Weekender: 50 marathons

Medals awarded for bushfire support

Maria McMahon

Recognised for their dedication and commitment during the 2019 / 2020 bushfires in the Bundaberg Region, four of Council’s Disaster Management team members were recently presented with National Emergency Medals.

Receiving the medals were Local Disaster Management Group Chairperson and General Manager Community and Environment Gavin Steele, Disaster Management Support Officer Beth Whitworth, Branch Manager Community Services Kirstin Harrison and Angela Everist who is now working for Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) but was employed by Council as the Disaster Management Officer at the time of the bushfires.

The award criteria includes sustained service for a minimum of five days’ duration which must be in the protection of lives and property or in the service of interests that are not their own and in direct response to the emergency. 

This includes support that enables or facilitates the emergency response.

Mayor Jack Dempsey praised the efforts of the medal recipients as well as the emergency services crews and volunteers who put in enormous hours, which meant time away from their families.

“I am immensely proud of our team and the part they played in coordination from a local government perspective,” Mayor Dempsey said. 

“We recognise their hard work and professionalism in doing the job they needed to do to protect the community.

“Their decision-making processes, carried out in conjunction with the emergency services teams, ensured the community, officers and volunteers were kept out of harm’s way.”

QFES North Coast Region Acting Assistant Commissioner Neil Francis attended the presentation to offer his congratulations and show support.

“The Queensland Disaster Management arrangement involves many important stakeholders and one of those is local government,” Act Ass Com Francis said.

“Essentially, local government and QFES partner up to make sure the community gets the services and support they need during disasters.

“The National Emergency Services Medal is a significant recognition of effort and commitment to the community.

“It’s not just handed out to everyone but has to be earned and it’s really important that we take the time to acknowledge staff, and today is a very good example.

“It’s great that Angela is receiving a medal as well and it’s important now that she is with QFES that we show that level of support to her, even though her commitment through Bundaberg Regional Council afforded her the award today.”

Kirstin Harrison was responsible for setting up the Evacuation Centre in Childers for Woodgate and Buxton residents who couldn’t make it back to their homes.  In receiving her medal, she acknowledged the work of those who assisted her.

“I accept this on behalf of the whole team,” Kirstin said.

“It’s not just my work but that of everyone who made things happen in the space of community wellbeing.”

The National Emergency Medal is administered by the Australian Honours and Awards Secretariat at Government House who provides secretariat support to the National Emergency Medal Committee. The National Emergency Medal Regulations 2011 were approved by Her Majesty The Queen in October 2011.

Mat takes on 50 marathons in 50 days

Ashley Schipper

Ultra endurance athlete Mat Grills is taking on a challenge of epic proportions, running 50 marathons in 50 days in order to train his body for his next big event.

The Bargara man began his journey on 22 September and will crank out at least a marathon (42.2 kilometres) and up to 50 kilometres every day until 10 November.

“Everything I am doing is the build up to running from the Western most to the Eastern most points of the country next year,” Mat said.

“It's basically to practice, build up and test my body before the mammoth task ahead of me where I will run 100k a day.

“Last year I ran 100 half marathons in a row and this year I am running a marathon a day for 50 days, but 50km on my days off from work.”

During the 50 day challenge Mat will put the region's coastal areas, bush tracks and streets to good use as he travels along different routes.

Mat said he had been ultra running for more than 12 years and loved the challenge that came with each step.

“I'm constantly trying to push myself and explore the outer limits of human potential and this is another way of doing that,” he said.

“I have not done anything to this magnitude before.

“I have run much further in one go, but not the volume of doing 42.2 kilometres or more day after day for over seven weeks.”

And while he is known to complete some of his runs barefoot, Mat said he won't be sans shoes as part of this challenge.

He has secured zero drop shoe sponsor Altra and, because they are made specifically to keep your heel and toes level which mimics your natural barefoot position on a flat surface, he no longer feels the need to travel barefoot.

Mat said while he was on his own personal and physical journey as part of the 50 marathons in 50 days, he was encouraging others to join him on some of his runs while also adopting a vegan lifestyle.

“I encourage people to set their own challenges, push themselves and make no excuses,” he said.

“Ultimately I would love people to try and go vegan for 50 days but any sort of challenge, sport related or otherwise would be super rad!”

You can follow Mat's progress with the 50 day challenge on Instagram at Adventures and Activism or Strava at Mat Grills.

Bundaberg East water among best of the best

Megan Dean

Water from the Bundaberg East scheme finished a close second in the 2021 Best of the Best Queensland Water Taste Test.

Announced at the recent qldwater state conference, the Bundaberg East water was just pipped at the post by Mackay Regional Council’s Marian Water Treatment Plant which claimed top drop.

Bundaberg Regional Council Water and Wastewater portfolio spokesperson Cr Jason Bartels said it was a great result for the entire water services team.

“There is a lot of people involved in the water treatment process behind the scenes to ensure our community has access to reliable, safe and clean drinking water,” Cr Bartels.

“This recognition that it also tastes good is a credit to the entire team.

“We are certainly thankful for the staff that are dedicated to providing this quality of water to our community.”

It was the first time Council had put forward the Bundaberg East water for judging, having previously won awards for its Lovers Walk Scheme water.

Now in its tenth year, the Best of the Best Queensland Water Taste Test competition aims to celebrate the achievements of the state’s water service providers and to promote healthy rivalry.

Qldwater launched the quest to find the state’s top drop of tap water among the state’s 75 drinking water service providers which includes over 300 schemes (or community water supplies).

Entry into the competition was optional, with seven regions fighting it out in 2021, judged by the water services professionals in attendance at the event.

Qldwater CEO Dave Cameron said the taste test was about more than just how good the water tastes.

“It is a way to help inform the community about how much effort goes into providing quality drinking water – an essential, sustainable service provided 24/7 by the staff of our local water utilities,” Mr Cameron said.

Mini Bee Coffee combines tricycle with caffeine cart idea

Ashley Schipper

An Italian Piageo Ape 50cc tricycle has been transformed into Bundaberg's newest coffee stop, providing good caffeine and an assortment of other drinks in a mini cart on wheels.

Mini Bee Coffee was established by local couple Renee and Arron Hollis who were initially on the hunt for a coffee cart setup for their business, Ezi-Web.

“Originally, Ezi-Web was looking at purchasing a decent coffee machine for the office space but when Arron and I spotted the bee while researching we fell in love and thought it would be a unique opportunity,” Renee said.

“Now we have great coffee available in the office foyer for not only ourselves but the businesses around us, served with a smile by our lovely barista Kylie.

“Both Arron and I have also completed our barista training now so we can enjoy that side of the venture as well.”

The unique tricycle has been fabricated into an all-onboard mobile coffee business and while only tiny, has plenty of room to cart around delicious drinks and treats.

“Our little bee allows use to supply hot and cold beverages such as coffee, tea and hot chocolate along with iced frappes of different varieties,” Renee said.

While Mini Bee Coffee is based in the foyer of Ezi-Web on most weekdays, the duo have also been offering their coffee cart service at a range of events.

“The vehicle is very mobile and we have already been lucky enough to be part of Oceanfest, the PBR Bullride, Nardoo Nursery plant market, and just the last few days the super vaccination clinic run by Queensland Health and the State Hockey competition,” Renee said.

“We are looking forward to other events leading into the end of the year as well.”

Renee said with such a unique but simple look, the couple wanted to name the business accordingly.

“We chose the word ‘mini' because the vehicle is so small and ‘bee' because in Italy where the vehicle originated, the Ape part of the tricycle name means bee,” Renee said.

“Plus, she buzzes around a little like a bee when she drives along!”

The couple said they were over the moon to offer their Mini Bee Coffee service in the region.

“We love the fact we can make someone’s day by a simple drink and the fact we have such a quirky vehicle to share,' Renee said.

“We offer the convenience of using Doordash, Menulog and even the ability to pre-order via our website minibee.coffee or through our mini bee coffee app available in the App Store.”

Therapy and support provided through love of horses

Ashley Schipper

Local man Andrew Abbott has combined his love for horses with his career as a counsellor and is now offering support services through animal-assisted therapy.

Bundaberg Equine Assisted Therapy and Counselling Services was established earlier this year and features eight horses and a donkey as part of the team.

The business provides a mixture of therapy and learning programs, counselling services, behavioural support for teenagers, coaching classes and more.

“Equine Assisted Therapy brings people outside the normal clinical setting into the great Australian outdoors, giving our clients the opportunity to use all their senses while learning and processing through their emotional challenges,” Andrew said.

“Our team consists of eight horses, a donkey and we are in the process of including the addition of some baby goats, alpacas and a calf to enhance the animal assisted therapy.

“Our service has the flexibility to evolve with the participants needs and demands which can range from mental health, capacity building, life skills, behavioural therapy and assisted learning.”

Andrew said there were many benefits to equine assisted therapy and the program was equally effective with children and teens as it was with adults.

“Children and adults alike can experience challenges such as trauma, anxiety, depression, PTSD and much more,” he said.

“Equine assisted therapy offers a safe space for people to explore deep emotional hurts and painful experiences, offering an environment to openly share their thoughts.

“Having the horse present can offer a sense of peace without the threat of bias or judgment of their emotional experiences.

“The simple acts of caring and nurturing something else can also help build empathy.”

Andrew said he had many years experience within the field of counselling and was proud to be able to combine his love for horses with his new business to help those in need.

“I have worked closely with a local Bundaberg psychologist for the past 15 years, five of those while Manager of the Btransformed Gym, working with clients to manage their physical, emotional and weight loss journeys,” he said.

“Counselling was a natural progression for me, I am also a counsellor with the Phoenix House child, youth and family counselling team providing community counselling and support services to people affected by a range of traumatic life events.

“I have now been able to combine the two loves of my life, helping people and sharing my love for my horses, through Bundaberg Equine Assisted Therapy and Counselling Services.”

Andrew said what he loved most about his work was being able to offer a space where people and animals could connect.

“As a counsellor you strive to learn from those with lived experience in order to develop a different perspective and understanding of individual needs,” he said.

“I have witnessed so many positive stories when you add a horse into the lives of people who are struggling with difficult aspects of their life.”

To find out more about Bundaberg Equine Assisted Therapy and Counselling Services contact Andrew on 0428 942 009 or click here for more information.

Bagpipes at the ready for Pipers Loch Doon concert

Ashley Schipper

The bagpipes will be played proudly and with gusto when the Bundaberg Caledonian Pipe Band holds its annual concert at the Moncrieff Entertainment Centre next month.

It comes after the popular event was cancelled last year due to Covid, with the 2021 comeback concert aptly titled ‘Pipers Loch Doon'.

Local singer Suellen Cusack-Greensill is set to perform alongside the pipers, with performances also featured by the Rum City Highland Dancers.

Secretary Julie Myers said the Bundaberg Caledonian Pipe Band was the oldest in Queensland and had been a part of the region's history since its incorporation in 1884, for 137 years.

“The band has performed regularly over the past century at numerous local functions, which include Harvest Festivals, Railway Picnics, Bundy in Bloom, Light up Bundy, the opening of both Burnett and Tallon bridges, and welcoming Queen Elizabeth II to Bundaberg in 1954,” she said.

“The year 2020 would have been the band’s honour of leading every parade of ex-servicemen and women to Bundaberg’s Anzac Day Dawn Service since its inception in 1920.

“However, as we all know Covid dealt its hand, and this was not able to be achieved.”

Julie said instead, the band would celebrate the milestone this year.

“I don’t know of any other band in Queensland or Australia that would be able to own this recognition,” she said.

“The members are very proud to uphold the tradition of the band, which was built by their predecessors, and march proudly wearing the ancient Sutherland kilt.”

Julie said the upcoming concert at the Moncrieff Entertainment Centre would be the eighth annual concert the Caledonian Pipe Band had held, which doubled as a fundraiser event.

“We have taken this night back to the traditional Scottish tunes that most people have heard somewhere,” she said.

“Nine pipers and six drummers will bring a toe-tapping night with a couple of surprises along the way.

“Also, having the beautiful Suellen Cusack-Greensill on stage to sing, accompanied by Kate Hardisty on violin, will be a great highlight of the evening.

“Bundaberg’s own Suellen has performed all over the world and we have been grateful and privileged that she has performed at many of our concerts.”

Julie said the concert would evoke many emotions from the audience, with a range of music to be performed.

“To hear the sounds of a bagpipe playing, whether it is in a march or as a lone piper, is like no other,” Julie said.

“The instrument can play a haunting melody or a lively jig.

“I think the fact that it has lead men to war, and these days is played at commemorations and memorials, as well as festive occasions, does keep the tradition and the band alive.”

Pipers Loch Doon will be presented at the Moncrieff on 16 October at 7pm.

Book your tickets here.

Nora finds happiness in helping others

Ashley Schipper

“The more you help people, the happier you will be.”

That’s the message Gin Gin resident Nora Reeves likes to live by and is something that has not only helped her find her way in the move from the Philippines to Australia, but also in her goal in providing community support wherever she is.

Having a fiercely independent attitude, Nora decided she wanted to explore the world at a young age and in 1983 she left her home in the Philippines to travel Japan.

“After high school I go by myself. I don’t rely on anyone. I never relied on my parents,” she said.

At age 34 Nora made the decision to move to Australia and landed in Moura where she lived before finally calling Gin Gin home.

Experiencing a not-so-warm welcome in the beginning, Nora made it her mission to create a space in Gin Gin where people of all cultures could come together and feel part of a community.

Her passion for creating connection has been told as part of Bundaberg Regional Council's Our People Our Stories project, which aims to shine a light on the lives of local people.

Nora began her journey in creating a multicultural group at the Gin Gin Neighbourhood Centre, where she went to study English.

It's where she met with a handful of Filipinos which became the start of the Godwana Group.

The organisation has since evolved into the Gin Gin Multicultural Reference Group which operates to this day.

It's not the first time Nora has provided a helping hand to those in the community.

When her children started school, Nora was there supporting the kindergarten through the P & C and community.

She continued to offer help to the primary school and then the high school as her children grew older.

It was important to Nora to teach her children how to survive and be good people in life.

Her children assisted Nora with community events by helping with the decorations and the raffles.

Nowadays, Nora still loves to give back to the community through baking cakes, teaching people how to cook international cuisine or creating international dolls.

She is always happy to share her culture with anyone who wants to learn.

“I am very proud of myself; I work so hard to help the people,” Nora said.

“My mother influenced me with kindness – I want people to succeed.

“The more you work hard you will achieve your goal. Anything you can do it’s achievable.”

What's on

Ray's passion for environment a lifetime adventure

Ashley Schipper

Ray Johnson is best known around the Bundaberg Region for his knowledge of rare fruits, native plants, and his passion in establishing the Gin Gin Landcare Nursery and Bush Food Garden.

In 2014, Ray was awarded Bundaberg Regional Council's Green Spirit Award for his community involvement and love of the environment.

“It makes it all the more rewarding when visitors come to the nursery and comment on how much they enjoy the experience, the friendly staff and an interesting lot of native plants,” he said.

Ray's profile has been featured as part of the Bundaberg Regional Council project called Our People Our Stories which aims to celebrate residents within the local community.

Born in Kogarah, Sydney in 1944, Ray completed his early education but at 15 was ready to go bush and leave the learning side of things to a later date.

His love was in the natural world and town life was not for him.

Over the next 11 years Ray worked around the country as a sheep shearer, cattle worker, timber cutter or anything else to bring in a dollar.

At 26 Ray became curious about the world beyond what he had seen so far, so for the next three and a half years he travelled Europe, Canada, New Zealand, USA and parts of Asia.

During his travels Ray took an interest in his Christian background and at one time spent four years studying theology in America.

It was here he met his wife-to-be and together they returned to Australia to spend the next 12 years establishing a place of worship.

As situations changed Ray and his wife Marsha then went on to spend the next eight years travelling and working their way around Australia.

A four-wheel-drive and an old caravan took them on an adventure of a lifetime.

Finally, becoming weary of the traveling life in 2004, they looked for a place to settle and Gin Gin was chosen as their final destination.

“Life has been good!” Ray exclaimed.

The couple have two children, seven grandchildren and love the place they now call home.

Marsha enjoys her art, while Ray, just like in the beginning, still has a love affair with the great outdoors and a passion for the environment.

If you want to catch up with Ray, he is never far from the Gin Gin Landcare Nursery, so head on over and have a chat.

Milbi Festival to celebrate David Gulpilil AM

Georgia Neville

The David Gulpilil Film Retrospective event is a highlight of the Milbi Festival program for 2021, taking a look back at the works of one of Australia’s greatest actors.

Fittingly, 2021 marks fifty years since audiences first experienced the onscreen talent and charisma of David Gulpilil AM, who has worked on a number of award winning films over this time.

As actor, dancer, storyteller, educator and painter, Yolngu man David Gulpilil’s place in the history of Australian film can’t be overstated.

The films on show during the event include Walkabout, My Name is Gulpilil, Ten Canoes, Storm Boy and The Tracker, all of which tell a very different story.

This film festival will be held over five days, with the opportunity to choose between watching one or all of these incredible films.

Tickets are $10 per movie, or $30 for a five movie pass.

Council’s Arts, Culture and Events portfolio spokesperson Cr John Learmonth said the film retrospective event would shine a light on the talent of Mr Gulpilil and give audiences the chance to reflect on his works.

“The film retrospective event is one that I am very much looking forward to, celebrating the incredible work of an inspirational man who achieved so much in the Australian film industry,” Cr Learmonth said

“Mr Gulpilil led the charge to changing the way the Australian screen represents Aboriginal people and their cultural heritage and I encourage everyone to attend at least one of the films and view it through a different lens.”

Session times for the films can be found below:

Walkabout -Monday 1 November 10am & Tuesday 2 November 6.30pm
My Name is Gulpilil – Sunday 31 October 4pm, Monday 1 November 6.30pm & Thursday 4 November 10am
Ten Canoes – Tuesday 2 November 10am
Storm Boy – Wednesday 3 November 10am & Thursday 4 November 6.30pm
The Tracker – Wednesday 3 November 6.30pm

You can find out more about the event and book tickets here.

Seniors encouraged to connect during Seniors Month

Georgia Neville

This October there will be a range of activities to celebrate Queensland Seniors Month, with everything from outdoor adventures to arts and movie events on offer.

This year’s theme, social connection, is about connecting people of all ages, cultures, and abilities through inclusive events and activities and celebrating the important and essential roles older people play in the community.

Bundaberg Regional Council has created a detailed Seniors Month calendar which brings together community events and events and activities hosted at council operated facilities in Bundaberg, Gin Gin, Childers and Bargara.

Council Community Services portfolio spokesperson Cr Tracey McPhee encouraged everyone to try something new as part of Seniors Month while meeting new people in light of this year’s theme.

“We encourage everyone to take a look at the activities that are on throughout the month and if you are interested in something, give it a go and meet someone new; that is what the month is all about!” she said.

“We look forward to seeing people out and about enjoying the activities that are on offer across the region.”

Many activities are free of charge, with some having a small fee for transport to the event location.

Activities include bird watching and board games through to arts and craft sessions, lawn bowls and both easy and medium level walks exploring different parts of the region.

Queensland Seniors Month aims to:

Improve community attitudes towards older people and ageing.

Facilitate community participation and activity by older people, including those from Indigenous and culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

Enhance community connections and inter-generational relationships.

A full guide to all the activities can be found here.

You can find out more about Queensland Seniors month here.

Josephina’s art garden planted with passion

Morgan Everett

A strong connection to nature has led Josephina Beckers to create an intricate art trail in her one-acre garden, with all but one gum tree planted by hand.

The vision arose for artist Josephina as she wanted to curate a creative and wild space, filled with spirit, colour and passion.

“I love flowers and colour,” she said.

“They feed my soul more than a veggie garden for some weird reason.”

A garden created out of pure excitement has blossomed into a natural wonderland for Josephina to enjoy every day in her own backyard. 

“I knew nothing about trees, how big they would grow and what would be the best place for them,” she said.

“I just got enthusiastic and threw anything in.

“Of course, that means that some trees are not quite in the right place.”

In the past 12 months the newest vision to come to fruition was the art trail, Josephina said she wanted it to be inspiring, exciting and fun to walk.

“When I walk and work in my garden, I feel a profound spiritual connection with the land,” she said.

“I create beauty and love around me that fills my spirit daily, despite the drought or maybe because of it.

“It can take almost half an hour now when you walk slowly around and take the time to look at all the different little bits and pieces.

“The different parts of the garden all have a distinctive different energy.”

The garden currently features a variety of themed areas.

“At this stage we have a fairy-gnome garden, a rock garden with succulents, a veggie garden, a bamboo walk trail, a living labyrinth, a magical ‘gum tree forest’ with an energy circle, a mandala garden, and a mosaic section,” Josephina said.

With the challenge of drought Josephina said she has developed a love for bromeliads and succulents which are hearty plants that can thrive on very little water.

“At this stage the bromeliads provide most of the colour,” she said.

“I do try to get more and more edible plants everywhere.  

“I remember thinking that I wish to see the trees grow for the next 50 years!”

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Book review

Paddleboarders test the waters

Stand up paddleboarders competed at Elliott Heads last weekend in what 4670 SUP Club Inc organisers said was the biggest event of its kind in Queensland this year.

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