Weekender: 50 marathons

Top 100 sustainable destination recognition for region

Megan Dean

The Bundaberg Region has been listed among the top 100 sustainable destinations in the world for 2021 in recognition of work carried out to reduce urban glow.

It means the Bundaberg Region will now be featured by Green Destinations in its 2021 Top 100 Destination Sustainability Stories alongside other leading cities and regions throughout the globe.

The stories are an annual selection of destinations demonstrating innovative and effective good practice to be shared as inspirational examples to other destinations, tour operators and international visitors.

The recognition is a boon for the region with Bundaberg Regional Council working with regional stakeholders and tourism operators to seek eco destination certification.

Bundaberg Regional Council’s submission to Green Destinations highlighted the work undertaken as part of the Reducing Urban Glow project.

The project’s aim was to use smart technology to measure urban lighting levels and make that data available to the community to reduce the negative impact of lighting on both nesting and hatchling marine turtles.

Top 100 evaluators provided their comments on the Bundaberg Region’s submission, commending the community collaboration that took place to make the project possible.

“This story stood out because it is not only addressing a serious problem – how light pollution endangers the hatching rituals of sea turtles – but it also involves various stakeholders and partners to collaborate in the project and work together to reach their goal,” one of the evaluators said.

“The destination stands out for their successful conservation strategy to protect sea turtles by using both traditional and high-tech methods,” another top 100 evaluator said.

“Furthermore, they effectively engaged the local community in the conservation project and created strong local support for the measures taken in and around the destination.”

Mayor Jack Dempsey welcomed the announcement that the Bundaberg Region had made the top 100 and been recognised among the best green destinations in the world.

“Simply put, the Bundaberg Region is a naturally diverse and naturally beautiful location,” Mayor Dempsey said.

“As a Council we are passionate about preserving and protecting that beauty while promoting it to the world.

“By attaining destination certification, we will not only have a positive impact on the environment, we’ll support our local economy by boosting visitor numbers to the region.

“Being recognised in the world’s top 100 sustainable destinations is a great first step towards achieving this status.”

Bundaberg Regional Council was also invited to speak at the Green Destinations Online Conference following the announcement of the top 100 sustainable destinations.

Photo: Mon Repos Turtle Encounter, Bundaberg
Credit: Jesse Linderman via Tourism Events Queensland and Bundaberg Tourism

Wendi Guy paves way with positive attitude

Ashley Schipper

Wendi Guy is a go-getter who loves nothing more than helping out in the Gin Gin community.

The local resident has played a part in many organisations over the years, taking on the role of president or secretary to clubs including Gin Gin Rugby League Sports Club Inc, Gin Gin Historical Society Inc, Gin Gin Social Club, Gin Gin Community Alliance and many more.

Wendi has been a big part of the emergency services within Gin Gin, working on many road accidents, fires and even rescuing people during the floods.

She dedicated 18 years to the SES until she had a heart attack.

“I had a triple bypass after having two strokes and ended up with a stint in 2017. Then in 2018 I had a triple bypass,” she said.

“Everyone tells me I need to slow down, but I won’t – it gives me meaning to live and I love seeing people happy and smiling.”

Her positive attitude and constant support for others has been highlighted in Bundaberg Regional Council's Our People Our Stories project.

The initiative aims to bring residents together to create positive conversations and celebrate their work in the community.

Wendi has spent 28 years with the rural fire service and is currently serving as a Volunteer Community Educator, but her interests don’t stop there.

She is most known for her work with the Gin Gin Theatrical Society Inc. which she founded in 1994 but sadly had to close last year due to COVID-19.

To add to her repertoire, Wendi pulled the Bullyard Hall out of a three-year remission in 2019 when she became the secretary and began fundraising within the community.

“We found out the hall was going down the gurgler and I came on board as the secretary,” she said.

“We started the monthly markets and then from there a car rally and we had a massive Halloween night last year.

“There are about 200 to 300 people who attend the markets, I think because they can see that we are trying to do something with the hall for the community.”

Originally born in England, Wendi was eight years old when she moved to Australia and would often pass through Gin Gin while on holidays.

“We would come through this town and Mum said, ‘one day I would love to live here’,” she said.

“Eventually all the family moved up and my son was born here – we have been Gin Ginites now for 30 years.”

Wendi said what she loved most about Gin Gin was the people.

“They are just so friendly,” she said.

Seniors lend a hand for Milbi Festival

Maria McMahon

Coral and sea anemones were just some of the art works keeping clients of the Gracie Dixon Centre busy while they helped to prepare for the Milbi Festival.

Twenty enthusiastic seniors were tasked with painting puppets of marine life for the March of the Reef parade as part of the launch on 29 October at Nielson Park Beach, Bargara.

Bundaberg Regional Council's Community Arts Development Officer Jolene Watson said she was thrilled to have the participants involved in the event.

“I decided to call on the Gracie Dixon clients for help because I wanted a wider reach for this art project,” Jolene said.

“Until now, it’s mainly sat within schools.

“Spending the morning with the seniors was very enjoyable and it was lovely to see such keen engagement.

“I got to hear lots of stories of their own experiences ranging from swimming on the reef at night to repairing typewriters.

“A few were quite keen to attend Milbi’s opening event to see the fruits of their labour in action.”

Gracie Dixon Centre Coordinator Lyn Frost welcomed this opportunity for the clients.

“Each and every client was well engaged in this project and were calling me over to show what they had painted,” Lyn said.

“As well as really enjoying the activity, it allowed them to help with the Milbi Festival.

“Most of them asked questions about how they can attend the event, while others asked if they could see pictures of the festival once it’s over.

“Their faces showed a lot of concentration while they worked and at the end of the session there was a real sense of achievement.”

More help is needed for the March of the Reef performance and organisers are on the look-out for 100 energetic participants to join the Dead Puppet Society’s choreographed performance.

The Dead Puppet Society is an Australian based production house and design company who create deeply imaginative visual theatre, public art and sculpture.

A once in a lifetime opportunity to learn puppet performance skills before taking part in the parade is available by registering your interest here.

Dimmeys ready to serve up some bargains in Childers

Ashley Schipper

Dimmeys will soon reopen its doors to the Childers community, providing bargains-galore to local shoppers who have been missing the popular discount store since its closure a few years ago.

Steve Deckton has been on site for the past few weeks getting the family business at 62 Churchill Street ready to reintroduce to the public.

He said the business had been in his family for 40 years, owned by his uncle Doug Zapelly, and had enjoyed plenty of support from locals during that time.

“It was unfortunate that, due to the way the retail industry works plus Covid, the doors had to close for a while,” he said.

“However, we have managed to work out a plan to keep the tradition of Dimmeys continuing in the Childers area.”

Steve said there was already plenty of positive feedback coming from locals who had spotted the refit taking place in the main street.

“So far, so good! The locals have expressed happiness about Dimmeys opening up again,” he said.

“There was a lovely lady that came by last week who said she was so excited when she heard the news about the reopening that she couldn't sleep the night before.

“You know, Dimmeys has been around for a long time and a lot of people in the regional areas rely on it to pick up a bargain or to get what they need on a budget.”

Steve said he had been working with the team to repaint and refit the store to get it in top shape for the new stock which would be arriving this week.

“We have donated a lot of the old stock to local charities to make room for the new range,” he said.

“Once open, we will have two or three local people employed, which is a really good thing in a small community.

“If we get lots of local support we will be able to grow and employ more people.”

Steve said while there wasn't an open day set in stone just yet he anticipated the store would be ready to welcome customers by the end of next week at the latest.

He said it may not be the only Dimmeys to reopen in the region, with plans starting to come together for a Bundaberg store.

“We also have a property in Bundaberg that we are looking to establish,” Steve said.

“Plans are still underway but we are 90 per cent certain that things will be starting to happen in the region soon.”

Headline acts set to light up Milbi at the Lighthouse

Georgia Neville

Milbi at the Lighthouse is shaping up to be a music lover’s festival with local musicians performing throughout the day followed by headline acts Ash Grunwald and Alex Lloyd.

Kicking off at 11 am on Saturday 30 October the entertainment will continue into the evening when the music industry icons take to the stage.

Adding to the festival atmosphere will be roving entertainment, fire dancers, stilt walkers, interactive activities, and amusement rides.

Artisan market stalls will feature local and handmade items along with a number of local food vendors and a licensed bar.

Both Ash and Alex have seen hugely successful careers within the music industry and are both looking forward to performing at the upcoming event.

Having recently moved to Queensland, Alex Lloyd, who is best known for his hit single Amazing, is looking forward to performing in Burnett Heads.

“I have always had great shows in Bundaberg and have some amazing memories, so I am really looking forward to singing my heart out at Milbi at the Lighthouse,” Alex said.

“I’m hoping that the crowd will join me in a good old-fashioned sing along, especially to my song Amazing, as well as Crowded House’s Better Be Home Soon.

“I can’t wait to be a part of this event.

“I love Queensland and have some amazing friends up this way so maybe one or two might join me on stage.”

Ash Grunwald is a well-known Australian blues musician who has won many awards for his music, recently releasing a collaborative album with John Teskey from the Teskey Brothers.

Looking forward to coming to the region to perform, Ash said he always had a great response from his Bundaberg performances.

“I got up to Bundy earlier in the year and the area was a great place to perform as the crowd is awesome and I really look forward to playing more gigs in the region in the future,” Ash said.

“Touring for a long time now, most of the time is spent playing overseas and you can miss a lot of local places, so it is great to be able to perform in areas where we can drive to.

“I love doing gigs and I look forward to this being a great event.”

The full on-stage Milbi at the Lighthouse line up includes:

11:00                    First Nation Song & Dance

11:15                    Official Ceremony

11:30                    Keely Sliwka

12:00                    Charlotte Smith

12:30                    Matthew Barker

1:20                      Lewis McKee

2:10                      Joel Fenton

2:30                      Colt Seavers Band

3:30                      Elektra City

4:15                      The Wild Sauce

5:00                      Danny Faifai

6:20                      Ash Grunwald

7:20                      Fiesta Fire & Drum Show

7:40                      Alex Lloyd

There are a number of roving acts that will be around the festival throughout the afternoon:

Dead Puppets Society

Seaweed Stilt Walkers

Bubble Pirates


Stunt Man Joel

King Neptune & The Giant Jellyfish

 Council’s Arts, Culture and Events portfolio spokesperson Cr John Learmonth said the festival would be a great afternoon and evening out for the entire family to enjoy, with everything from fire dancers, roving entertainers, and live music on show.

“This will be a great event for the whole family to come out to Burnett Heads and see a range of performances and listen to great live music,” Cr Learmonth said.

“Being able to host headline acts of this calibre is very exciting for the region and I look forward to a great night full of entertainment.”

The full Milbi Festival program can be found here.

Event details:

When: Saturday 30 October

Where: Jack Norgate Oval, Burnett Heads

Time: 11am – 9pm

Cost: Gold coin donation at the gateThe individual frames of a traditionally animated film are photographs of drawings that are first drawn on paper. To create the illusion of movement, each drawing differs slightly from the one before it.

Flick the switch for Turtle Hour event

Ashley Schipper

Residents and businesses are being encouraged to flick the switch in support of the region's nesting turtles as part of the upcoming Milbi Festival's Turtle Hour event.

The initiative aims to spread awareness about the negative impact artificial light has on nesting sea turtles and hatchlings.

Bundaberg Region Mayor Jack Dempsey said Turtle Hour provided an opportunity for everyone to play a part in protecting the local environment.

“Our beautiful coastline is world renowned as a turtle nesting site and Mon Repos is an important natural area that we’re very proud of and keen to preserve,” he said.

“This has been highlighted in many aspects of Council work, including the recent upgrade to the Mon Repos carpark which has been created to use as little artificial light as possible, the eco-build of the Mon Repos Turtle Centre and Council’s Reducing Urban Glow initiative.”

Mayor Dempsey said everyone was invited to participate in Turtle Hour on Tuesday, 2 November from 7.30 pm to 8.30 pm.

“All you need to do is switch off your lights for one hour to help reduce the glow and help turtles survive and thrive,” he said.

“With minimal artificial light polluting the sky, there will be fewer negative impacts on turtles.

“Too much artificial lighting can deter adult turtles from nesting and confuse hatchlings.”

Mayor Dempsey said the Bundaberg Region has a “duty of care” to protect the local turtle population.

“All of the world’s sea turtle populations are considered rare or threatened and out of the six species that live in Australia, three nest along the Bundaberg Region’s beaches,” he said.

“We should all work together to improve their survival rate.”

Anyone interested in being part of Turtle Hour can easily get involved by registering here.

The event is part of Bundaberg Regional Council’s Reducing Urban Glow initiative.

To find out more about what Council is doing to reduce urban glow, how you can get involved and to track light glow in our region, visit www.knowyourglow.com.au

Turtle Hour event details:

Date: Tuesday, 2 November

Time: 7.30pm to 8.30pm

Cost: Free

Location: Online community event

Vicki pushes herself in Great Cycle Challenge

Emma Turnbull

Burnett Heads grandmother Vicki Ward is stepping out of her comfort zone and onto a bike as she pushes herself to peddle 750km to help fight children’s cancer.

Signing up to the Great Cycle Challenge Vicki hopes to raise $2500 for the Children’s Medical Research Institute (CMRI), and her goal is to ride a minimum of 25km each day.

Vicki said there were a number of reasons why she had committed to the Great Cycle Challenge, one of which was especially close to her heart.

“I have had firsthand experience as a mother of a child with a serious chronic illness,” Vicki said.

“I know the difference support for the CMRI can make.”

Vicki, 52, said prior to taking on the Great Cycle Challenge she cycled a few times each week along the Turtle Trail, and she was now busy warming up for the cause.

“I have never been an athlete – and never will be! But I try to keep reasonably fit,” Vicki said.

“I love where I live, and my rides are great for my mental health as well.”

Vicki said earlier this year she challenged herself to ride 400km in a month, and after conquering that she wanted to extend herself and take on the Great Cycle Challenge.

“My target of 750km is way out of my comfort zone,” she said.

“At the moment, I am mixing up riding with some swimming and walking – just trying to keep fit, but not get too tired. I'm riding about 18km four times a week.”

“I chose that figure because I wanted it to be a challenge, and I figure I'll try to look at it as just 25km each day.”

​Great Cycle Challenge started in 2013, and after just eight years, the event has grown to become one of the biggest cycling events in Australia.

People of all ages, abilities and from every state across the country set themselves a personal riding goal and challenge themselves to pedal throughout October to fight kids’ cancer.

To find out more about Vicki’s Great Cycle Challenge click here.

Connect Fest: Art in the Park

People gathered in BRAG Park this week to celebrate Queensland Seniors Month with an inclusive morning of local arts and crafts.

Bob Massie and Sonya Atkins from Bundaberg Woodworkers Guild.

Bob Massie and Sonya Atkins from Bundaberg Woodworkers Guild.

Anne Druitt and Necia Rosevear from Pottery Club.

Anne Druitt and Necia Rosevear from Pottery Club.

Tim Mulvena and Yvette Sturmanis learning to weave.

Tim Mulvena and Yvette Sturmanis learning to weave.

Di Martin getting weaving lessons from Heather Hupalo.

Di Martin getting weaving lessons from Heather Hupalo.

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Bob Massie and Sonya Atkins from Bundaberg Woodworkers Guild.

Bob Massie and Sonya Atkins from Bundaberg Woodworkers Guild.

Anne Druitt and Necia Rosevear from Pottery Club.

Anne Druitt and Necia Rosevear from Pottery Club.

Tim Mulvena and Yvette Sturmanis learning to weave.

Tim Mulvena and Yvette Sturmanis learning to weave.

Di Martin getting weaving lessons from Heather Hupalo.

Di Martin getting weaving lessons from Heather Hupalo.

Chris Hammer shares story secrets in virtual author talk

Georgia Neville

International best-selling author Chris Hammer will discuss his latest thriller novel Treasure and Dirt with fans this month during a virtual book tour facilitated by the Bundaberg Library.

His newest read is set in the desolate outback town of Finnigans Gap, where police struggle to maintain law and order.

Thieves pillage opal mines, religious fanatics recruit vulnerable young people and billionaires do as they please.

Chris said the storyline dove straight into dramatics and spent no time in setting up the suspense to hook in the reader.

“The body of an opal miner is discovered crucified down his mine and we follow two police detectives as they investigate; the more they probe the more secrets they uncover," he said.

“Before long their own careers are on the line as more and more mysteries emerge.”

While Chris was due to tour the region to promote the book, current covid restrictions have meant the event has become virtual, providing guests with two ways to participate.

•  From home, 6pm to 8pm. Register here and you will be sent a Zoom link the day before the talk.

•  In the library, 5.15pm to 8pm. Register here.

Chris said he was looking forward to a fun conversation with those who tune in, discussing Treasure and Dirt and how he came to write it.

“There’s the opportunity to learn more about the book, but also the background story of how I came to write it and the writing process itself,” he said.

“I’ve done similar events in the past with the same interviewer, Queensland author Ben Hobson, who is the best fun and I am really looking forward to it.”

Having been to Bundaberg once before, Chris said he had been looking forward to visiting the region again.

“I visited Bundaberg once, briefly, a very long time ago,” he said.

“I love regional Australia – maybe that’s why my books are usually set in the countryside – and I was so disappointed when covid caused the tour to be cancelled.

“I was looking forward to visiting as part of the book tour for Treasure and Dirt – now I’ll have to write another book, so I can visit post covid!”

Council’s Arts, Culture and Events portfolio spokesperson Cr John Learmonth said the event was a fantastic opportunity for people to come down to the library and hear from a great author.

“The library are putting on a great event despite Chris not being able to be here in person,” Cr Learmonth said.

“I encourage the community to come down to the library and be part of the author talk while meeting others who might have similar interests.”

With a Q&A session set to be undertaken after the talk, you can email your questions to library@bundaberg.qld.gov.au by 5pm Wed 13 Oct.

This event has been made possible through event host, OverDrive, and publisher Allen & Unwin

In-library event:

Date: Wed 20 Oct

Time: 5.15pm – 8pm (refreshments served prior to talk)

Bookings open here.

At-home participation:

Date: Wed 20 Oct

Time: 6pm – 8pm

Bookings open here. A Zoom link will be sent to registered participants closer to the talk.

What's on

Jan’s green garden flourishes on low maintenance

Morgan Everett

After buying her Walkervale property sight unseen 19 years ago, Jan De Mattia has used her artistic flair to transform the space into a colourful garden, embellished with handcrafted art.

With no plants in place, Jan set about making many changes to her outdoor space from refurbishing her studio, building the tea room and creating a connecting garden between the two. 

With 30 years of experience in leadlight craft Jan said her Studio 166 had regular visitors, all greeted by the plant-filled entrance.

“They walk in and say ‘oh wow’ and ‘I love that’,” Jan said

“I love seeing others enjoy the garden.”

Keeping everything in pots has led to Jan’s freestyle planting method, granting her the self-proclaimed title of a professional ‘plonker’.

“My sister goes ‘oh you’re such a good plonker’,” Jan said.

“I just plonk everything anywhere.

“It’ll be right, just plonk it!”

The garden is filled with many upcycled items, including painted bikes, mosaic shovels and chairs featuring succulents.

Jan said with her busy lifestyle a low-maintenance garden was a must and with hearty foliage that thrived on neglect, beauty was provided all year round.

“It’s got to maintain and look after itself, as long as it looks pretty because I’m in the studio 24/7,” Jan said.

“A favourite of mine would have to be the bromeliads, they’re just so easy!

“I decided to remove all the grass because well, I just don’t need it.

“I don’t want to mow and strive for maintenance free.”

Jan said nature was welcome in her garden with frogs, birds and a possum calling the bright garden home.

“The birds are here which is quite nice, and I have a lot of bees at the moment, which is lovely,” she said.

I water the garden and that gives me pleasure, watering and relaxing because I don't relax much.”

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Book review

Bundaberg local named in Australian Bobsleigh team

Georgia Neville

Sport was always part of Joe Williamson’s life growing up in Bundaberg but he never imagined he would be part of the Australian bobsleigh team embarking on an Olympic campaign.

Currently living on the Sunshine Coast, Joe was named in the team after starting in the sport only four years ago.

He said he tried the sport because former Australian bobsleigh athletes recommended he give it a go but, prior to that, he'd never even seen snow.

“Being named in the squad is incredible, there’s nothing I’ve done that is even close to standing on the start block with Australia written across my back,” Joe said.

“It’s a reward for a lot of hard work, but also a reward to the people who have supported me.

“It’s for them as much as it is for me.”

The team is due to depart to North America early this month, with only a few competitions standing between them and a spot in the 2022 Winter Olympics.

“The next competition for us is the North American Cup circuit which will take us up to Christmas, then to Europe to race some European cup races until the end of January when we will find out if we have crossed the line and qualified an Olympics berth,” he said.

Having been involved in local sport while living in Bundaberg during his younger years, Joe said he never thought he would be competing in an Olympic campaign, let alone in a winter sport.

“I never thought I’d be here, a few days out from leaving the country for an Olympic campaign in a winter sport after having grown up and lived in Bundaberg,” he said.

“The sporting community in Bundaberg really helped shape me as a youth athlete and I’ve carried a lot of my old coaches’ teachings with me since.”

With limited snow in Queensland, the opportunity to train with a sled proved challenging.

However it was Joe's dad Ivan, who still lives in Bundaberg, that came up with the solution.

“When I started, I needed a push sled of similar dimensions to a bobsleigh to train the push start and with my dad, being the handy man he is, was able to weld one together for me,” Joe said.

“The sled is actually kept at the Queensland Academy of Sport now, and all the members of the Australian men’s squad train with it.

“Without the sled, it would be impossible to train the push start, which is arguably 50% of the race as a good start is essentially to reach in peak speed sooner, and then obviously you’re down the track faster.”

The current men's team has been developing and racing for the last three years, with one goal in mind – to maintain Australian representation at the elite level.

Joe said the Australian team was looking to raise funds to cover the cost of their two and four man sleds.