Weekender: Coming home

Bundaberg Recreational Precinct upgrade almost complete

Ashley Schipper

New, modern facilities which make up the first stage of the Bundaberg Recreational Precinct upgrade have recently been opened up for bookings to the community.

Taking shape as construction nears completion, an impressive new entry plaza sets the scene as visitors enter the grounds and will improve the flow of event ticketing.

In place of what was once a large shed now stands an impressive Main Pavilion space featuring a modern entry way, meeting rooms and landscaping.

Bundaberg Regional Council's Sport and Recreation portfolio spokesperson Cr Vince Habermann said the multi-million-dollar development was nearing completion and aimed to provide an upgraded, state-of the-art facility for the community to use and enjoy.

“There's new administration spaces and plenty of landscaping that has been completed to make the facility look extra special,” he said.

“The upgrade also features pedestrian-friendly avenues for art displays and more.

“The old space, which was much like a tin shed, has now transformed into a new and modern area and I am sure the community are really going to enjoy this space going forward.”

Bundaberg API Show Society president Maree See said the upgrade would greatly benefit the annual show held at the precinct each year.

“We as the show society will not have to hire a donger at the entrance and, overall, it looks a lot better,” she said.

“The new space will make it so much easier and safer for our volunteers who man the gate and will also speed up the entry of patrons into our show.”

Murchie Constructions were the local company behind the build with owner Andrew Murchie stating he was proud to have had a hand in the major project.

“We are very proud to have been involved in this sort of development,” he said.

“This project is a great benefit to the community and our region.”

The Bundaberg Regional Council project has been supported by the Federal Government Drought Communities and the State Government 2020-2021 COVID Works for Queensland programs.

The upgrades were identified through the development of the Bundaberg Recreational Precinct master plan.

Coming home: Elders return for Milbi Festival

Emma Turnbull

For Gooreng Gooreng Elder Douglas Graham, feeling the sand between his toes as he returned to his traditional Country was a special moment.

Uncle Douglas is just one of the Woorabinda Elders invited to the Milbi Festival by Bundaberg Regional Council.

The Woorabinda VIP Elders represent the family bloodlines of people forcibly removed from the tribal homelands of Bundaberg under the Aboriginal Protection Act (1897).

“My connection extends not just from the seas and the islands but all the way back to the Gooreng Gooreng range out west,” Uncle Douglas said.

“That was really deadly to feel the sand again and taste the salt.

“We come from dry country, not much water out there in the creeks, working and living in Woorabinda.

“Getting back to Country is always great and renews you and reinvigorates you.”

The Milbi Festival commemorates the launch of the region’s turtle season by celebrating the beauty of Aboriginal culture.

Local Elders Uncle Raymond ‘Willy’ Broome (Taribelang Bunda), Uncle Chris Thiesfield (Gooreng Gooreng) and Uncle Lester ‘Micky’ Hill (Gurang) provided the Welcome Acknowledgements to Country.

Bundaberg Regional Council Cultural Development Officer Selina Hill said there are four traditional owner groups recognised within the region and it was important that our First Nations Peoples were recognised in a respectful and meaningful way.

“So we invited our VIP Elders to celebrate the opening of the festival with us,” Selina said.

“The Milbi and our mob might be oceans apart, but the weekend meant we all shared in a journey called coming home.”

A message stick, crafted by Wakka Wakka Elder Maurice Mickelo, also found its way to the festival after being guided along the song-lines of the region’s First Nations People by the Bunya Mountain Murri Rangers before being presented to the local Gidarjil Land and Sea rangers at the event

Bundaberg Region Mayor Jack Dempsey said this cultural exchange was a mark of respect from one Ranger group to another.

He said it highlighted the importance of First Nations people continuing the cultural legacies to look after Country.

“For countless generations, our turtles have been coming home,” Mayor Dempsey said.

“Their DNA is closely linked with this beautiful coastline where they were born.

“We celebrate this coming home for what it represents – an incredible and sacred environmental event, which is iconic to our region.

“Today, we have a special symbolic celebration. As a mark of respect, we invited Elders from Woorabinda to join us for the Sunset Launch.”

Local First Nations leader Dr Kerry Blackman understands the importance of recognising both the turtles returning year after year, and also the coming home of the First Nations Elders.

“The significance of the Elders coming home, the concept is you-beaut just as the terms of the coming home of the turtles,” Dr Blackman said.

“The word Milbi is the Aboriginal word for turtle and just as the turtles navigate the oceans for 20-30 [years] before returning home, we have the connection to Country and the connections to community, and it’s a great idea to bring the Elders back now to recognise this.

“Our ancestors were moved off country when colonisation happened.

“My great-grandmother Rosie was taken to Fraser Island, and she went through the cold, and through starvation in hard conditions.”

Dr Blackman’s great-grandmother and her four sons were forcibly removed from their home on Warro Station under the Act and were incarcerated in Batjala country at Bogimah Mission on K’gari.

“Unfortunately, my great-grandmother died off country, sad and lonely. Her children were taken from her,” he said.

Dr Blackman commended Bundaberg Regional Council and the community for recognising the past and helping to move forward together.

“Now this is part of the healing process of our generation.

“It sends a powerful message and is symbolic.”

The significance of the Elders coming home was also recognised by Gail Mabo, daughter of land rights activist Eddie ‘Koiki’ Mabo.

Gail was in the region to host a special event in line with her Bundaberg Regional Art Galleries exhibition Legacy: Reflection on Mabo.

“It’s like serendipity actually, for the turtles to come back and the Elders to come back now also,” Gail said.

“With the Milbi Festival, what you are doing in breaking down the barrier between people, to just come together as people.

“As people sitting together, we learn together and then you grow together.

“Including a whole lot of things where kids are involved and acknowledging all these things, that’s a change for the future, and for the positive – so you’re moving in the right direction.”

The celebration of First Nations culture and heritage throughout the 10-day Milbi Festival was made possible with the support of Port Curtis Coral Coast (PCCC) staff, the River Nations Cultural Dance Group, Gidarjil Development Corporation and Taribelang Aboriginal Corporation.

 Bundaberg Regional Council acknowledges the traditional Country of the Taribelang Bunda, Gooreng Gooreng, Gurang and Bailai Peoples and recognise that this Country has always been and continues to be of cultural, spiritual, social and economic significance.

Marquis Macadamias expansion set to crack on

Megan Dean

The multi-million dollar expansion of Marquis Macadamias Australia’s Oakwood facility could start in the second half of 2022 and is set to deliver jobs and industry growth.

The development, which was recently approved by Bundaberg Regional Council, will almost quadruple the facility’s floor area and will see on-site nut processing nearly tripled.

In a statement Marquis revealed it aimed to commence stage one in the second half of 2022, subject to final design details, government agency approvals and possible additions to the first stage of the development.

Marquis Macadamias Limited already processes almost half of the nation’s macadamias between its two Australian facilities.

Following the approval of its development application, which included all three stages of the expansion, Marquis Macadamias can now crack on with its plans which include increasing the nut processing floor area by 1300 m sq and building a three-storey office building.

The ancillary office space will be able to facilitate board meetings, training, meeting and reception in addition to providing general office space.

A 2750 m sq cold storage shed and four drying and storage sheds with a total ground floor area 7200 m sq will also be constructed.

A laboratory, lunchroom, storeroom, biomass boiler shed and boiler rooms are also set to be constructed along with 120 additional car parking spaces with a bitumen loop road connecting the existing car parking area.

The three stages of the expansion project would include:

Stage One:

- Development of a new delivery area

- Drying and storage buildings providing capacity for an additional 4,800 tonnes of NIS

- Installation of a solar farm

Stage Two:

- Building of a new warehouse

- Building of a new production area

Stage Three:

- Two additional storage buildings

Marquis Group Chief Executive Officer Larry McHugh said the company changed the initial scope of stage one when finalising designs for approval.

“When taking into account the rapid growth of macadamias in Bundaberg, we made a number of changes to the design of stage one,” he said.

“We are also considering bringing forward parts of the later stages, so that we can better deal with the rapidly expanding crop coming from our increasing grower shareholder base.

“This may increase the cost of stage one to $25 million.”

When all three stages are complete, Marquis estimates the expansion will cost from $35 million to $40 million.

The Oakwood macadamia nut processing facility currently handles 10,213 tonnes of macadamias annually but, according to the application, this will increase to 30,000 [tonnes] per annum when the expansion is complete.

Mr McHugh said the project would support the growth of the macadamia industry in Bundaberg.

“The expansion project is an important step in the development of Marquis Group as a grower-owned company and for the broader Bundaberg macadamia industry.”

“It will provide a secure platform for further industry growth and deliver increasing benefits to the Bundaberg community, including new jobs for Bundaberg locals across construction, farming and other areas.

“The expansion project will significantly increase Marquis’ processing and export capabilities, catering to the demand for macadamia products globally,” Mr McHugh said.

Milly Moo & Co launches DIY cooking kits

Georgia Neville

Local resident Skye Zielke has launched her new business Milly Moo & Co, offering DIY cookie and cupcake packs for children aged four to 12 years.

Skye said she decided to establish her business after struggling to find the perfect gift for her god-daughter during Covid lockdowns.

She said she wanted to send her something that was different to the usual presents of toys and clothes.

After posting a personalised hamper box filled with items to bake cupcakes and cookies, Skye realised there was a gap in the market that she thought she could fill.

“I wanted to send my god-daughter a gift that was unique and involved her being able to do something,” she said.

“She loved the hamper I made and sent her.”

From there, Skye’s Milly Moo and Co cooking kits were brought to life.

Skye said the DIY kits were suitable for a range of ages and were an ideal gift that kept young ones occupied and engaged through a fun learning experience.

“Milly Moo & Co is a hamper-based service for children who love to bake and get creative,” Skye said.

“The children use the items from the hamper to bake the cookies or cupcakes.

“While they are waiting for their items to cook, they can enjoy a colouring-in card which is also part of the kit before finally decorating their baked goods.”

Skye said each of the boxes that are available for order contain ingredients and instructions required to bake cookies or cupcakes.

“Each box contains pre-measured dry ingredients to make eight to 12 cupcakes, including cupcake holders, or cookies, toppings, colouring in card and pencils and an instruction card,” she said.

“Customers can expect an amazing unboxing experience, a unique gift in the mail and a gift that keeps on giving while making memories as a family.”

Skye said the inspiration for her business idea and name came from her daughter.

“Milly Moo & Co is named after my daughter, Amelia Grace, who we call Milly Moo,” she said.

“I want to show my daughter that if you put your mind to something you can do it.”

Skye has been working to bring the business to life since April, with the kits now available for delivery Australia-wide.

You can find out more about Milly Moo & Co on Instagram and Facebook.

384 North Micro Brewing taps into growing industry

Emma Turnbull

Tapping into the craft brewing market was a passion project for Anthony and Natasha Sfettina and it has led to success with interstate and take home markets now growing the 384 North Micro Brewing venture.

The Casablanca on See owners saw the opportunity to develop their microbrewing business, 384 North Micro Brewing, and gain experience during Covid lockdowns.

Independent craft brewing is emerging as a vibrant and dynamic sector across Queensland, and a change of licencing has allowed the family business to sell the craft beer made on the premises as takeaway to the public.

The change in Queensland legislation earlier this year helped Anthony and Natasha follow their passion for brewing craft beer, with a new brew canned and ready to go each fortnight.

The couple said the expansion of 384 North Micro Brewing was doing so well, they had already received orders from interstate.

“We are officially a brewery now, and that’s kind of unique, as it’s unusual for a place like ours to produce and sell alcohol like we are,” Anthony said.

“It’s great to know there are locals who have been waiting months for us to do this, and the support we’ve had already is amazing.”

Natasha said after their takeaway craft beer had already exceeded expectations after they started selling it only three weeks ago.

“We thought it would take a while to gain traction, but it’s doing so well that we’ve even had people who follow us on social media order our beer,” she said.

“So, we are sending beer in the mail to Victoria and Tasmania now!”

They said it was during the time businesses were closed because of COVID-19, when they took the opportunity to branch out, and their motivation hasn’t stopped.

“During COVID-19 it allowed us, and other restaurants, to sell beers with takeaway meals – that’s when we realised there was a market for it,” Anthony said.

“COVID-19 gave us the opportunity to experiment, and we followed our passion.”

Under their new artisan producer licence, 384 North Micro Brewing, can produce at least 2500 litres of craft beer but no more than 5 million litres in any financial year, and sell the craft beer for consumption on or off the licensed premises.

Barry Johnson OAM a stalwart of Gin Gin community

Ashley Schipper

Community leader, influencer, OAM recipient, father, grandfather and great grandfather are just some of the words people use to describe Barry Johnson OAM.

The proud local has had many roles within the region, including Chairman of Gin Gin Fruit and Vegetable Growers for four years and then Director until the organisation ceased operation.

It's his passion for his community, as well as farmers in the region and beyond, that had him nominated for Bundaberg Regional Council's Our People Our Stories initiative which celebrates local people.

Through his work with farmers and his own history growing up on a dairy farm, Barry has always had a passion for showcasing quality produce and product, which also steered his love for the Gin Gin Show.

“We became known as one of the better country shows in Queensland because of our fruit and vegetable display,” he said.

“The local growers supported the local show enthusiastically.”

Support for rural workers a top priority for Barry

Barry also did plenty of work behind the scenes, campaigning State Government to provide rural workers with accreditation for their skills.

It was a move eventually introduced by the Beattie Government which overall increased employment opportunities in the horticulture and agriculture industries.

Barry also used his knowledge and expertise to help improve practices in farming and agriculture.

With a group of growers, in conjunction with the Queensland Department of Primary Industries, he helped trial a new technology using controlled atmosphere which would assist in getting fresh fruit overseas.

This technology is now being used across the world.

For Barry’s outstanding accomplishments in primary industry, he was nominated and received an Order of Australia Medal in 2003 and was honoured with Kolan Shire Citizen of the year the same year.

“Ordinary Australian Male,” he joked.

Barry has not only been a positive figure in the agricultural industry, he has also played an instrumental role in providing support to the whole community through various initiatives.

In his role as President of the Gin Gin Historical Society Barry leveraged the Gin Gin Markets as a fundraising tool through the Saturday morning markets.

He was also on the steering committee to help get the Gin Gin Community Bank established.

Another feather in his cap is holding the title of founding member of the Gin Gin Men’s Shed

You can still find Barry at the shed every Friday morning or in his own sawmill that provides timber to woodworkers in the community.

Nowadays, Barry is known as Mr Fix It Man.

“People around me comment on my patience and they don’t know where I have gained those skills from, it’s in my DNA,” he said.

Barry was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease which affects his movement, but he doesn’t let that get in the way of a good time and continues on without a fuss.

“Life’s too short to be bothered with that,” he said.

Linah takes pride in supporting culture and community

Ashley Schipper

Linah Mountford, who originally hails from Papua New Guinea, made the move to Bundaberg in the late '90s.

She is well known for her work with the CAMS Program – Community Action for a Multicultural Society – at the Bundaberg Neighbourhood Centre, as well as the Ol Meri Wantok Bundaberg Inc organisation.

Linah takes pride in providing support to people from all cultures by helping them integrate into Australian society through networking, sharing information and connecting.

Her work and passion has been highlighted as part of Bundaberg Regional Council's Our People Our Stories initiative which celebrates people in the local community.

After growing up in PNG, Linah finished school and became a trained customer service officer for the National Airline Service.

In 1998 she came to Australia and landed in Bundaberg after getting married.

Linah was 25 years old when she moved to the country and said it came with its own challenges.

It was a new life away from family and something that she could never be fully prepared for.

“Everything was new, completely different,” she said.

“I had an idea, but I didn’t realise how difficult it was going to be.”

Linah said she felt isolated and lonely in her new world, but housework kept her busy and then kids came along.

It took seven years before she would build the confidence to drive on Australian roads, which made the 40-minute walk to and from Alexandra Park with her children a long journey.

Nowadays Linah has settled in beautifully to Australia, which she now calls home, and volunteers to promote PNG and other Pacific Island events and programs through her role as secretary at Ol Meri Wantok Bundaberg Inc.

She is involved in NAIDOC celebrations, the Moore Park Beach Arts Festival, Cultural Connections, Harmony Day and Milbi Festival, just to name a few.

Linah said what she loved most was teaching children about culture.

“It helps for people to identify themselves and how they can contribute by knowing who they are,” she said.

“If they don’t know who they are, they aren’t able to see themselves as value to the community unless they have some form of identity.

“Knowing the importance of their culture and their background helps make the person.”

Exclusive Florence Broadhurst exhibition to be held at BRAG

Georgia Neville

Florence Broadhurst was a born designer.

From her artistic works, her many careers and her everchanging appearance and personality, everything about the enigmatic and mysterious woman was artfully designed.

Born near Mt Perry in 1899, Florence lived an extraordinary life in Australia and overseas, earning herself a reputation as a risk-taker and style maven.

She went on to reinvent herself many times during her life, changing everything from her accent and her hair right through to her history and her name, up until her death in 1977.

Recognised as one of the world’s most influential post-war designers, her archive of works grew to 500 images, ranging from tapestries to geometrics, florals and psychedelics.

Florence’s design archive is revered throughout the world to this day.

One of those designs is emblazoned on the façade of the Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery - just one of the many legacies she has left behind.

With a rich history throughout Bundaberg and surrounds, Florence Broadhurst will now be the subject of an exclusive exhibition in that very same gallery.

Three years in the making, the special Bundaberg exhibition has been curated by Bundaberg Regional Galleries Director Rebecca McDuff.

Rebecca said the curation of this exhibition held special personal meaning for her, with historic ties to Florence, making it a very exciting undertaking.

“When I started at the gallery seven years ago, I was intrigued by the pattern on the Barolin Street entrance to Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery,” Rebecca said.

“On learning it was the ‘Turnabouts’ pattern by well-known Australian designer, Florence Broadhurst, memories were triggered of stories from my grandmother about a ‘Flo Broadhurst’ from her years in Mount Perry.

“My curiosity was ignited, and for the last three years I have been curating this exhibition about Florence Broadhurst, and the role that this region played in moulding this creative, independent character whose designs and life are still talked about internationally today.”

The exhibition will showcase a range of her works from fashion through to her globally recognised wallpaper patterns.

“We have many different pieces from Florence’s collection that will be on show as part of the exhibition,” Rebecca said.

“It has been carefully curated to ensure that each piece tells a story about her influential life.”

Council’s Arts, Culture and Events portfolio spokesperson Cr John Learmonth said the exhibition was very exciting for the region, with the galleries team continuing to bring high quality exhibitions to the region. 

“Our galleries team continue to work hard to bring exclusive exhibitions, such as Florence, to Bundaberg for our community to enjoy,” Cr Learmonth said.

“I encourage everyone to visit the exhibition as it is a great opportunity to see the exquisite works of the iconic Florence Broadhurst.”

In true Florence style, the Bundaberg Regional Galleries team invite the community to attend the Florence Cocktail Gala event for the launch of the exhibition.

The gala Florence Broadhurst exhibition opening will be held on Friday 12 November and the exhibition will be on public display at Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery from 13 November 2021 – 6 February 2022.

Saltwater Creek bridge a unique part of local history

Megan Dean

In the 1890s some lighthouses were constructed using screw piles - the same foundations used for the Saltwater Creek railway bridge.

It’s one of the quirks of the structure which has piqued the interest of consulting archaeologist Simon Gall.

Ahead of the restoration of the heritage-listed Saltwater Creek bridge, Simon was charged with researching the heritage of the unique structure.

He described it as an “unusual bridge” and said Bundaberg was lucky in that it featured a number of historic and interesting bridges, including the Burnett Traffic and Kennedy bridges which were constructed after the Saltwater Creek railway bridge.

“It's on a state register for the primary reason being the use of screw piles, which was not new at the time, but still probably relatively unusual,” Simon said.

“I think they started off using them in things like lighthouses and stuff like that originally.

“From an engineering perspective, it's unusual and I think it’s, if not the oldest, might be the second oldest surviving in Queensland with that sort of construction.”

He said the remainder of the bridge was fairly traditional timber bridge construction.

“I think, actually, another little interesting bit of history is there's some girders that come from the Gold Coast Railway, which disappeared.”

The bridge was originally built by Millaquin Mill owner Robert Cran and required an Act to be passed to allow this private railway to connect the North Coast Railway to the mill.

Simon said it was great to see Bundaberg Regional Council’s bridge crew, skilled in the construction and repair of historic timber structures, working on the bridge.

“Heritage is not just about structures, it's about skills and the knowledge and what these things represent,” he said.

Find out more about the history of the Saltwater Creek railway bridge and the efforts to restore it in the latest episode of the Bundaberg Now Hidden Histories podcast.

Hear from external consultant archaeologist Simon Gall, cultural heritage specialist Ulrike Oppermann and structural engineer Anthony Chen, as well as Council engineer Clete Perrott and project supervisor Hunter Cole.

What's on

Mel’s eccentric Gin Gin garden

Morgan Everett

Mel Bayntun has transformed her overgrown backyard into a unique, upcycled wonderland in just eight months.

After changes in her personal life, Mel moved into her Gin Gin home by the name of Moonstone, which she said symbolised inner growth, strength and new beginnings.

 It was then that she started planning her garden and, with most of her visions coming in dreams plus some help from friends and family, her ideas have been brought to fruition. 

 “The property was unkept and the gardens were very overgrown, I had lots of friends over the years to help cut away all the ‘dead wood’ so to speak,” she said.

 The front yard was the first to get upgraded.

 “I normally dream my visions and when I wake, I get busy writing notes and then source my supplies,” she said.

 “I am a quick worker once I have that vision.

 “I want it to come to life quickly, just in case life happens.”

 Mel said a blank canvas was then created in her backyard after a friend was able to clear out the whole space including trees, shrubs, roots and all.

 “At the end of last year we had a shed built and then February this year is when I started creating the backyard,” Mel said.  

 “I have black soil, so I had truckloads of garden soil brought in, then I just planted native trees.

 “My partner is a surfer so I created one side of the garden beach theme, with sand being brought in.

 “It’s beach meets bush.”

 A boundary fence was created out of recycled posts and roofing iron supplied by a good friend.

 “It makes a rustic privacy fence, which brings the whole back yard together,” Mel said.

 “There are always changes, I find something to upcycle or recycle and then it grows from there.”

  Mel said the garden also showcased a teapot wall, vegetable garden and painted car home to many plants.

 “The sun beams through that section in the morning and I thought if I hung teapots, it would block the sun as well as being a feature,” Mel said.

 “The vegetable garden area is called ‘Grandad’s corner’ after my late grandad.

 “He was an amazing green thumb when it came to his vegetable garden. 

 “The section with the spray-painted car is called ‘The Bronx’ due to the high buildings next to my property.”

 The afternoon brings wildlife to Mel’s garden.

 “We have up to 20 wild ducks, king parrots, rosellas, apostlebirds, finches, lorikeets and many other bird species,” she said.

 “They all have such fun personalities.”

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