Weekender: Big Dad Out

Baldwin Swamp Shelter refurbishment for community enjoyment

Ashley Schipper

The Baldwin Swamp Shelter Shed will soon be refurbished to transform the popular recreational area into a more functional, useable, safe and secure space.

The facility is situated at the main entrance to Baldwin Swamp in Steindl Street and is predominately hired by the community for events and functions.

Bundaberg Regional Council Parks and Gardens portfolio spokesperson Cr Wayne Honor said the upcoming work was part of the Parks, Sport and Natural Areas Capital Works Program 2021- 2022.

“This upgrade will provide a new layout to the area that improves cooking, storage, toilet and lighting facilities,” he said.

“It will ensure the existing facility supports the future recreation needs of the community and is in keeping with Council's infrastructure standards.”

Cr Honor said the community was invited to take part in a survey to provide feedback on the upcoming design and improvements to the area.

“We would love to hear from people who have used the facility to let us know how we can improve on the space,” he said.

“The survey will only be open for a set time, so we really want to encourage people to fill it out to help inform the design of any upgrades.”

Cr Honor said the shelter shed was situated in a perfect location inside the Baldwin Swamp Environmental Park.

“Many people love to use this area to host parties, functions, school holiday events and much more,” he said.

“It is a fantastic spot, surrounded by a beautiful area of freshwater wetlands and rainforest close to the centre of Bundaberg.

“The network of walking tracks, boardwalks and bridges around the shelter shed make it an easy area to explore and enjoy and these upgrades will only further enhance the wonderful experience that visiting Baldwin Swamp offers.”

Cr Honor said a survey would be open for community feedback until 17 October with construction to begin in January 2022.

You can participate in the survey here.

Taribelang Bunda tours share culture and stories

Ashley Schipper

New cultural tours, being launched during Milbi Festival, will see Taribelang Bunda Elders share language and dreamtime and historical stories at significant sites across the region.

The Taribelang Bunda people have lived in the Bundaberg Region for over 60,000 years.

The special opportunity to hear these stories from Traditional Owners will take form as Taribelang Bunda Cultural Tours, where participants will be immersed in the richness of country and culture.

Tour guide Rebecca Domaille said the festival tours would open up a dialogue with guests about moving forward together as one.

“Taribelang Bunda Cultural Tours will highlight the importance of the turtles to the Taribelang Bunda people and significant and sacred site where they nest at Mon Repos,” Rebecca said.

“Our tours will give a well-rounded, authentic view of Bundaberg's history, exploring the unique sites and stories and looking at yesterday, today and tomorrow.

“These stories come from local historians including our Taribelang Elders and there are many stories that most locals will not know.”

Taribelang Bunda Elders Uncle Wayne Mothe and Uncle David Broome said The Hummock would be included as part of the tours due to its cultural significance.

The Taribelang people were the first to inhabit the area that was once called “burning mountain”.

“What our old Aunties used to tell us is that they used to come up to The Hummock, way back before colonisation, to pray,” Uncle David said.

“It was a really spiritual place and I have heard that there were footprints on the rocks that were left from a spiritual being who came down to visit the area.”

Uncle Wayne added the site was later used as a meeting place for the Taribelang Bunda men.

“They would meet in regards to business,” he said.

“Women were not allowed at the site and instead, their meeting place was over towards Kepnock way.”

Uncle David and Uncle Wayne said it was important to share their stories to keep Taribelang Bunda history alive.

“We like to make people aware of what is happening in the area, the historical side in regards to aboriginal culture,” Uncle Wayne said.

“It is good to share in the knowledge of our history, which many people may not know about.”

“We also like to pass on our knowledge and stories to our young people, to our sons and daughters and grandchildren so that they can continue to share our history,” Uncle David added.

Milbi tours an opportunity to learn

Rebecca said the Milbi tours were a unique and special invitation to connect with the culture of the Taribelang Bunda people.

“Taribelang Bunda history is scattered around the Bundaberg Region, even in the name Bundaberg,” she said.

“The Elders are very excited to share these stories with the community.

“They believe that the knowledge and acceptance of the past will only create a better future for our entire community as one.”

Taribelang Bunda Cultural Tours will be held on Monday 1, Thursday 4 and Saturday 6 November.

Ticket numbers are limited, book your ticket here.

Liz and Wendy form special bond for life

Ashley Schipper

More than 50 years ago Liz Tobin was a very sick, abandoned baby who was given a second chance at life by 16-year-old nurse, Wendy Wilson.

Their bond and connection made during their short time together has remained strong over the years and through a series of events, the pair have recently found each other again in Gin Gin.

The heart-warming story has been shared as part of Bundaberg Regional Council's Our People Our Stories Project, which aims to bring people together through a connection to community.

At just two months old, Liz was found ill and abandoned in a box in Tenterfield, New South Wales.

She came into the care of Wendy who was a nurse at the local hospital assigned to her case.

Wendy cared for Liz for five weeks, affectionately calling her “funny face” especially at night when she was feeding and starting to show her personality.

After Liz had regained her health, she left the hospital and found her home with a lady by the name of Mrs Tobin, and that was the last Wendy heard about the beautiful baby she once cared for.

Little did she know that 50 years later their paths would cross again.

Posting a photo of her biological family to Facebook on the Tenterfield Memories Facebook page, Liz turned to the community in the hope to find out more information about where she had come from.

Wendy responded to the post, realising the family in the picture lived over the paddock from her.

Liz returned a private message without realising the connection they had shared, and the pair soon began talking on the phone.

“I’ve heard the voice before,” Liz gasped, putting two and two together.

After the phone conversation, Liz and Wendy planned to meet.

On 10 January 2020 Liz travelled to Bundaberg to spend seven weeks with Wendy and her family.

It was after this visit that Liz knew she needed to be closer to Wendy.

Liz now refers to both Mrs Tobin and Wendy as her two mothers.

Liz and Mrs Tobin made the decision to move from Tenterfield to Gin Gin in March last year to be closer to Wendy, who she now calls Nan.

Wendy said Liz was now all grown up from the beautiful baby she had saved decades prior.

“Elizabeth has flourished through the care of a very good lady, Mrs Tobin,” Wendy said.

“I idolise Wendy and just love her so much, she means the world to me,” shared Liz.

“I can still give her a cuddle and a kiss, but I can’t nurse her now!” Wendy said.

Passion for animals sparks business idea for twins

Adele Bennett

Twin sisters Ashleigh and Tayla Gilson have turned their passion for animals into a business venture, after going live with their new online store All Fur Pets.

From Ashleigh’s backyard in Burnett Heads, the online store sells everything from enrichment toys and specialist food to medications for dogs, cats, birds, horses and livestock.

Tayla’s background as a vet nurse and years working in the pet supply industry means the pair are well placed to offer advice on pet wellbeing and only stock high quality products.

“It’s what I love to do, I’m very passionate about it. Between vet nursing and pet retail, I keep coming back to it every time,” Tayla said.

“We want people to have as much fun with their dogs as we have with ours and have healthy animals.

“We strive to give ours everything they need to make sure they’re happy, healthy and fed, and that’s important to us.”

Tayla lives on a farm in Bucca with sheep, ducks, pigs and horses, plus the pair have eight dogs between them.

Ashleigh said the initial response to All Fur Pets was encouraging, with support first coming from family and friends and developing quickly through online platforms.

“Our most popular product so far is definitely the bone marrow dog chew. It’s a nylon bone filled with jerky, and the dogs just love it!

“Now, with Covid-19, I’ve noticed people like to shop online and want the option for contactless deliveries.

“Were planning to be open at local markets and events as well and a delivery service around Bundaberg to get us going, then through the online store service other communities throughout Australia.”

The twins both returned to Bundaberg in recent years to be closer to family and escape city life.

“Tayla just had a baby and we wanted to start up something that she could do from home while on maternity leave.

"Working with my sister is wonderful really, it’s great to be able to spend a lot of time together and with my new niece who is five months old.”

The online store is a side business for busy Ashleigh, but she has big plans for its future.

“I’ve got a lot of plans that I hope to expand into, at the moments were working from the backyard but we hope to expand into a commercial space with a store front soon.”

People within the Bundaberg area and coastline, including Burnett Heads, Bargara, Innes Park, Coral Cove and Moore Park Beach can take advantage of free delivery from All Fur Pets by using discount code ‘Local1’ at the online checkout.

Bargara Meats snag bevy of AMIC Wide Bay awards

Emma Reid

The butchers at Bargara Meats have snagged a bevy of accolades at this year’s Australia Meat Industry Council (AMIC) Wide Bay awards.

Up against some tough competition, Bargara Meats won top gong for the following categories: Regional Sausage King Competition for both poultry and traditional Australian beef, and the Regional Smallgoods Competition for their pre-cooked scalded sausage, their leg ham on the bone and their kabana.

Along with the wins Bargara Meats also placed well in several other categories in the AMIC Wide Bay awards, taking home three silvers and two bronzes.

Bargara Meats owner Dan Sauer has been in the industry for almost three decades and said the team was gobsmacked by the recent awards.

“To win five golds is a massive achievement and definitely came as a welcome surprise,” Dan said.

“We are super proud of our butcher shop and team of butchers.

“We have always endeavoured to provide our customers with only the very best.”

Competition comes with taste testing perks
The competition this year was held in Hervey Bay and Dan said it was one of the largest butcher contests with more than 200 entries.

“It's huge really, and to take home these awards makes us so proud of our team and shop,” he said.

“The dedication and hard work for our industry really shone through.

“It was a whole team effort and the butchers really got on board – showing excitement and passion.”

Dan said one of the perks of entering a competition such as the AMIC Wide Bay Awards was the dedication in taste testing each product by his staff before the event.

“We definitely do a lot of ‘quality control’ to be assured that our customers are getting only the very best,” Dan laughed.

“To ensure we get every product to the high standard we are happy with. This helps us all work on our butcher bods!

“Of course, only in the best interest of the butcher shop – best part of the job!

“Kath and I have always said from day one that we would only ever sell and make our absolute favourites. If we love it, our customers will too.”

He said each of the products that entered in this year’s AMIC Wide Bay awards was available to customers in store seven days a week.

Dan said they had only entered a few competitions in the past, and the biggest highlight until now was winning gold in the Australia Pork Mark Bacon award in 2016-17.

“We won first, gold, in Queensland with short cut bacon,” Dan said.

“Then we placed second, silver, nationwide in Australia.

“This was a huge achievement for our family-owned, coastal, local butcher shop.

“Something we are still super proud of – it shows that the even the little guys can achieve big things.”

After winning at the AMIC Wide Bay awards Dan said the team would now strive to do well in the Queensland finals held in Brisbane during October.

“We will be hanging up the knives and dusting off our suits.

“We are invited to now enter the five categories we won,” he said.

“(We’re) really looking forward to it no matter what the outcome. It will be a great evening celebrating our industry with some of the very best.”

Bargara Meats AMIC Wide Bay awards
Leg Ham on the Bone – Gold
Traditional beef sausage – Gold
Poultry Sausage: Thai chicken Basil – Gold
Precooked Scalded Sausage: Cheese Kransky – Gold
Precooked Scalded Sausage: Honey and Garlic Kabana – Gold
Poultry Sausage Chicken, jalapeno and honey – Silver
Best Butchers Beef Burger – Silver
Boneless Ham – Silver
Best Butchers Gourmet Burger Pesto, Haloumi and Lamb Burger – Bronze
Bacon Rasher – Bronze

Margaret and Leigh's sewing skills help those in need

Ashley Schipper

In 2013, Bundaberg East State School had 90 families impacted by flood water.

With some handy sewing skills and a passion for helping the community, Margaret and Leigh Evans got to work to create embroidered sachet bags filled with goodies to distribute to those affected.

It was a project close to the hearts of the couple, with Bundaberg East State School the place where Leigh had worked as a teacher before retiring.

Margaret and Leigh's passion for helping others has been featured as part of Bundaberg Regional Council's Our People Our Stories project, which aims to celebrate the local community.

The couple have been married for 57 years and share a love for volunteering their time to put a smile on the faces of those in need.

In fact, they have continued to make their goodie bags for many organisations throughout the region and beyond.

The project is something the couple enjoy doing and the work is made easier with Margaret’s fantastic sewing skills.

Diagnosed with a slow-moving muscular dystrophy at just 10 years old never stopped Margaret from taking up sewing, and after a bit of guidance from her mum, she became talented at the hobby.

Margaret and Leigh, through the help of friends, family and local organisations, have distributed hundreds of bags within the community, and even outback Australia, over the years.

“I’m sharing this story to encourage other people who use wheelchairs to get involved in helping their communities,” Margaret said.

“Although I do realise not everyone does quilting and embroidery!

“Every little bit helps to ease the pain for those who are going through desperate times.

“God loves you; people love you too – I hope this is the message people feel when they receive one of my bags.”

You can view the Our People Our Stories project here.

Winning designs to Knock Ya Socks Off

Georgia Neville

Three young local artists have had their winning designs printed on to socks as part of a unique competition celebrating Youth Month 2021.

Jesse Sutton, Sienna Edwards and Hope Burgess were recently named the winners of Bundaberg Regional Council’s Knock Ya Socks Off competition with their winning designs to be produced on hundreds of pairs of socks.

The socks will soon be available as prizes and giveaways for young people at events and activities across the region.

Council’s Community Development Officer Savita Gurung said the Youth Development Action Team (YDAT) came up with the concept for the competition, and judging was very tight.

Each of the artists created something very different, producing unique artwork for their socks.

Sienna Edwards said her design was inspired by her favourite animal, the frog, and her favourite colours blue and green.

“I entered the competition when it got sent to me because I like art and I do it at school,” Sienna said.

“I love frogs so that is why my socks feature the frog, I have many frog hotels made from pipe that are home to about six frogs.

“It feels good to win and I look forward to designing more in the future.”

Hope Burgess used the Bargara shoreline as her inspiration, with sand bars, turtles and palm trees all featuring on her socks.

“The inspiration for my design came from Bargara and it includes the heel of the sock being designed as a sand bar, along with trees and a turtle,” Hope said.

“It feels interesting to have my art on a pair of socks, everyone at school was coming up to me and saying congratulations.”

Jesse Sutton said his design took him around two weeks to complete and was inspired by waterholes filling with water.

“The inspiration came from when I was thinking about how good it is when waterholes are filled up with water and then I thought that it would look good on a pair of socks,” Jesse said.

“I saw the competition on Facebook and I decided to enter, and it took me about two weeks to do the artwork.

“It felt amazing to know I would have a pair of socks with my own artwork on them, it will be really cool to wear them at school.”

What's on

New oceanfront accessible cabin at Elliott Heads

Ashley Schipper

People of all abilities can now enjoy overnight stays at Elliott Heads Holiday Park in an all-new accessible family cabin.

Situated at 1 Lihs Street the cabin has been designed by Bundaberg Regional Council to provide visitors with easy access and mobility and features spacious rooms, inclined surfaces, grabrails, ramps and more.

The villa will be officially opened to the public on Wednesday, 20 October at 11am at a special community event.

Mayor Jack Dempsey said the project was part of Council's goal in ensuring the region was both inclusive and accessible.

“It's so important to continue to find ways to connect our community and enhance our quality lifestyle,” he said.

“The accessible family cabin is situated at Elliott Heads Holiday Park which provides ocean-front living at one of the region's most beautiful beaches.

“With enough room for a family to stay comfortably and plenty of features that allow people of all abilities to enjoy their stay, this cabin is a fantastic addition to an amazing destination.”

The cabin has been built to accommodate people who use mobility devices and features compliant doors, bathroom fittings, light switches and power points.

The kitchen features space under the benches to allow for wheelchair access and the room has been designed for full manoeuvrability.  

There is also a threshold ramp to the cabin, compliant car park with a set-down section and accessible ramp to the cabin entrance.

Mayor Dempsey said along with the accessible family cabin, the park would open three more cabins on site in the near future.

“This is part of Council's five-year masterplan to bring the holiday park up to modern standards and provide more accommodation for the increasing number of guests in the area,” he said.

The project has received support through the State Government's COVID Works for Queensland program.

Community callout for Milbi’s March of the Reef

Georgia Neville

As part of the upcoming Milbi Festival, Bundaberg Regional Council is on the lookout for an energetic group of 100 participants to perform in the March of the Reef created by the Dead Puppet Society.

The March of the Reef will take place during the Milbi Festival Sunset Launch on Friday 29 October from 4.30 pm to 6.30 pm at Nielson Park Beach, Bargara.

In preparation for the event, six trainers including Dead Puppet Society artists Matt Seery and Helen Stephens will be hosting a four day training course in puppet performance skills development, culminating in a contemporary street parade specifically choregraphed for the Milbi Festival.

Participants will have the opportunity to puppeteer the locally fabricated creations and age is no boundary, with puppets ranging from simple corals and anemones, to swimming schools of fish and turtles or the chance to handle larger reef sharks.

Council’s Arts, Culture and Events portfolio spokesperson Cr John Learmonth encouraged the community to register to take part in the March of the Reef which presented a once in a lifetime opportunity.

“The Milbi Festival is always a fantastic event and it is great to see the community able to take part with opportunities such as this,” Cr Learmonth said.

“I encourage everyone interested to register.

“You will not only be supporting and contributing to a wonderful celebration of arts and culture, but you will work with experts in this field and develop skills you may never even have contemplated before.

“This is a truly unique opportunity to be part of something very special for our region.”

Registrations close 30 September 2021, with registrations to be completed here.

All applicants will be contacted by Friday 8 October with updates about the performance and rehearsal schedule.

The Dead Puppet Society is an Australian based production house and design company with international reach, which creates deeply imaginative visual theatre, public art and sculpture.

The team visited the Bundaberg Region earlier in the year to meet with local educators and artists for professional development, teaching them the art of puppet making in preparation for the March of the Reef.

You can find the full Milbi Festival program here.

Plants galore at the Huth’s Meadowvale garden

Morgan Everett

Nola and Reg Huth’s Meadowvale garden is best described as a hidden treasure, showcasing an extensive plant collection from succulents and cacti to indoor plants and colourful foliage.

Each part of the yard is themed through plant selection.

A shade house was built for the veggie patch and the existing garden beds have been transformed into a feature cacti garden.

“I really got into gardening when I moved here 16 years ago,” Nola said.

“Reg had established the existing gardens and after moving in I added my touch with the cacti and succulents.

“It's changed, it’s very, very different to how it used to be.”

With this being Nola’s largest garden to date she said she loved to keep it low maintenance.

“I love easy care stuff, I've always said that it has got to be easy,” Nola said.

“I find myself planting in pots more than anything else.”

Handyman Reg has crafted many custom pieces in the garden.

Nola said this included tin animals and edging to complement her plant arrangements.

The green thumbs said they were no stranger to upcycling and loved giving life to old and broken items.

In their Meadowvale garden plants have found new homes in old swing sets, water features and wheelbarrows just to name a few.

Nola said there were always changes being made, as she spends most of her time outside in the garden.

“I love my space, I love my garden and the open spaces,” Nola said.

“I don't think I'd want to go back into town.”

The most recent change to the outdoor space is Nola’s succulent corner that came to life after the space needed a tidy up.

“It was just because it was really messy and I thought, I'll clean this area up,” she said.

“I like it to look good and I am able to propagate the succulents.”

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Isaac Cooper back in Bundaberg

The region's very own Olympic swim star was welcomed home at a special reception at the Bundaberg Multiplex this week.

Isaac Cooper met with students and aspiring swimmers and discussed his recent trip to Tokyo in a Q&A session.

Showing off his bronze medal to the crowd, the young athlete said he was over the moon to be back in his hometown.

"It's really incredible to be back," he said.

"Its great to see my family again, I didn't get to see them for a month after the race."

Isaac competed in the Tokyo Olympics after securing his position on the Australian Swim Team earlier this year.

"I went to the games to compete in the 100 metre backstroke and made it to the semi-final, placing 12th," he said.

"I was then chosen to be the heat swimmer in the 4x100 metre mixed medley relay and ended up coming home with the bronze medal."

Bundaberg Region Mayor Jack Dempsey congratulated Isaac on his success.

"We were all thrilled and so happy when Isaac made the team for Tokyo after many years of hard work," he said.

"Also being selected in the 4 x 100 metre medley relay team was an outstanding achievement and reward for effort."

Isaac is the first Bundaberg athlete in 17 years to win a medal at the Olympics after Troy Elder, in hockey, won gold at the 2004 Games in Athens.

He got his start at Fairymead Swimming Club under coaches Paul Simms and Scott Hamlet.

"It’s a wonderful story that a boy from Bundaberg has achieved a childhood dream through dedication and hard work," Mayor Dempsey said.

"Isaac, the entire community was right behind you and cheering as you represented Bundaberg on the world stage.

"We hope that in future Olympics we’ll be cheering you at trials and competitions here in our new Bundaberg Regional Aquatic Facility."

Isaac said Bundaberg Regional Council's plan to develop a new Aquatic Facility would provide plenty of opportunity for Olympic athletes in the region and beyond.

"The Aquatic Facility is going to be an incredible development," he said.

"If we could have our team come and train here in Bundaberg, that would mean so much to me to be in my home town, with my family and training in preparation for the biggest competition in the world."