Weekender: Childers ambulance

Shalom College solar project national awards finalist

Ashley Schipper

Shalom College's drive to create a greener future for students and the community has seen the school named a finalist in a nation-wide Clean Energy awards event.

The Bundaberg school's $3.3m solar farm project has been announced as a finalist in the Clean Energy Council Solar Awards, which recognises the outstanding contribution businesses and individuals have made to clean energy in Australia.

Shalom College was nominated by Kurt Elvery of Elvery's Electrical Service and Dhayan Nadarajah of GEM Energy, with both companies playing integral roles in the installation of the $3.3m solar farm.

Principal Dan McMahon said the award nomination showcased just how important a greener and more sustainable future was to the college.

“At Shalom College, we are proud to be playing our part in protecting the environment through the installation of more than 2000 solar panels on our grounds, the largest of its kind in an Australian private education facility,” he said.

“This system helps us to create a sustainable future for our students and the college.

“We are thankful to GEM Energy and Elvery's Electrical for nominating the college for the CEC Solar Awards, and to be recognised for our dedication to clean energy.”

Mr McMahon said since the solar farm was established late last year, the school had already experienced many benefits.

“Our solar farm means that we are essentially running the college using 100 per cent renewable energy,” he said.

“It allows us to not only run the college on solar but also feed back to the grid and allow Ergon Energy to take their backup generator for fluctuations offline.

“With close to 1600 students at the college every day, plus our staff, it is fantastic to operate in a way that does not have a major impact on the environment.”

Shalom College solar savings

Mr McMahon said the school had significantly decreased CO2 emissions and reduced electricity costs since the installation.

“In September 2020 our emission of CO2 was about 39.3 tonnes and in September this year it was 0.6 tonnes,” he said.

“In dollar terms, electricity cost the college $3,468 in September 2020 and September this year we paid just $60.”

Mr McMahon said, apart from the cost savings, other benefits of the solar farm included a growing interest from students about clean and green energy.

“The solar farm shows our students how we can all take steps to protect our environment,” he said.

“We are helping to reduce air pollution, our carbon footprint, and the reliance on fossil fuels.

“Along with our solar farm, the college is committed to implementing environmentally-friendly measures and the students are involved in many different activities such as tree planting and recycling.”

You can view the CEC Awards nomination for the Shalom College solar farm here.

Childers Ambulance Station celebrates 100 years

Ashley Schipper

From using wooden splints to transfer patients to the introduction of two-way radios, the Childers Ambulance Station service has experienced plenty of change in its 100 year history.

Local paramedics and officers past and present will celebrate the station's centenary in December and former officer Ben Clutterbuck is one of many who look back on his career in Childers fondly.

He started as an honorary officer in 1952 before becoming superintendent in 1972, then eventually retiring in 1993.

“I had a pretty good life with the ambulance,” Ben said.

“Just being able to serve the community was a great privilege and I had very happy years in the service.”

While recounting the highlights of his career, Ben said things were now very different to what he had experienced back in the 50s and onwards.

“Nowadays there has been a fantastic change,” he said.

“The equipment paramedics have is absolutely mind blowing to an old fella like me.

“We only ever dreamed of having this sort of equipment!”

Ben said when he was a paramedic in Childers, wooden splints were often used to carry patients, even if they weren't the most reliable.

“They were rather uncomfortable and not good to use!” he said.

“We had one bottle of oxygen and a mask, which is laughable in these days.

“We also had to supply our own tools like scissors and forceps – they were all our own property.”

Ben said the technology used within the service had also drastically changed, making communication faster and easier than it was in his time.

“We didn't have two-way radio until the mid 50s and communication – you may as well say was non-existent,” he said.

“If you were in town, the girls on the exchange could track you down by ringing around to see if anyone had noticed you in the shops or about.

“With the invention of two-way radio it gave us communication from the cars to the various centres.”

Ben said he was incredibly proud to have played a part in the Childers Ambulance Station's 100 year history through his role of caring for the community.

“From sudden sickness, severe pain, heart attacks …the service is always there for people if they want it,” he said.

“I have had to use it myself a few times so while I know exactly what is what, I am also able to share in the appreciation felt for service providers.”

Ben said while he had enjoyed his career in the QAS (formerly the QATB), he was no stranger to the harsh reality of the job.

“In my first 12 months I attended so many fatal road accidents that the police gave me a nickname of Dr Death,” he said.

“It was a strange title, but when I look back over the years I can see their point.

“Some of the accidents were absolutely horrendous but when I came back into my home, that was it – I didn't bring it with me.

“That is a very important thing for officers to remember, don't bring your work home with you.”

But with death, there is also life in Ben's former line of work, with the local also having lent his skillset to help in the delivery of babies.

“The first baby I had to deliver was a patient from the Bingera Sugar Mill,” he said.

“I had to do the delivery coming over the Burnett Traffic Bridge, it held the traffic up a bit!”

Jody one year on the job and loving her role

And while Ben had clocked up more than 40 years in his career at Childers Ambulance Station, current paramedic Jody Nerney is just getting started.

“I am relatively new to the service, I have been serving in Childers since the start of my career one year ago,” she said.

“It makes me feel quite proud to be involved and I think it is amazing that we have served the Childers community for 100 years.”

Jody said she had already seen some huge changes at the station in her 12 months on the job.

“We now have two power stretchers in our ambulances, they all used to be manual, so these make our job so much easier,” she said.

“We also have new radio communications such as push-to-talk and satellite which makes a huge difference when we are out in the middle of nowhere.

“Also, the station has just introduced a brand new car that includes a rumbler.

“You hit the horn a few times and it sends vibrations into the cars ahead of you, so not only are you relying on the siren to move people out of the way you also have the vibrations.”

Jody said her work at the station was varied and could see her assisting someone in the middle of town or out in a paddock on any given day.

“Childers is surprisingly big and we service so many different farming communities,” she said.

“We cover not only the highway crashes but people experiencing some pretty major illnesses and we can be anywhere from Childers, Woodgate, Biggenden and more.”

Jody said no matter what she was doing, she loved every minute of her career as a paramedic.

“It is the best job in the world,” she said.

“I get to see people in their day to day lives – I get to help them in what may be the best or the worst day of their life.

“It's an unreal view of humanity.”

Natural waterway takes shape in Belle Eden

Megan Dean

The first stage of a winding natural waterway, featuring about 39,000 shrubs, trees and plants was recently completed in Belle Eden.

It’s surrounded by green open space dotted with bench seats and picnic shelters.

A wooden bridge passes over the waterway along the newly constructed pathway.

It’s hard to imagine that just months ago it was a barren man-made drain.

Stage one of the Bundaberg Regional Council project, funded with support from the Federal Government, is now complete, bringing the vision for the innovative project to life.

It was based on a simple concept – a natural waterway can provide a better outcome for the environment when filtering stormwater runoff.

Nicole Bunter and her daughter Anna recently took advantage of the opportunity for residents to speak with project managers about the new Belle Eden natural waterway.

They live nearby and are thrilled with the outcome which gives their family more time to enjoy the great outdoors.

“It looks absolutely beautiful,” Nicole said.

“It’s just a great area for the kids to run around and play and get to know each other in the community, it’s absolutely lovely.

“It definitely has encouraged the kids out.

“It’s just very beautiful and serene and refreshing and it’s just nice because you can go for a nice walk. It’s just really enjoyable.”

Federal Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt congratulated Bundaberg Regional Council on the project which received $1.5 million funding from the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program.

“The Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program was established by the Coalition Government in response to the Covid-19 pandemic to help local councils get shovel-ready projects underway as soon as possible to help boost the local economy,” Mr Pitt said.

“This project has not only improved drainage in Belle Eden but made an inviting space for local residents and wildlife to enjoy.”

“I’m pleased the Federal Government has been able to provide Bundaberg Regional Council with almost $10 million under the three phases of this program, with access to Phase 3 funding from 1 January 2022.”

Bundaberg Regional Council Environment portfolio spokesperson Cr Wayne Honor said natural waterway’s innovative approach to stormwater drainage would set the standard for future projects.

“This is a fabulous result for the community and the environment – it’s a win-win,” Cr Honor said.

“Residents now have this beautiful area to enjoy, we have created a habitat for wildlife and are improving the quality of the stormwater runoff.

“Native plants like water reeds will naturally treat this runoff which ultimately finds its way to areas like Baldwin Swamp, so this is a critically important improvement.”

Some of the main features of stage one include:

  • New footpath from Longview Drive to Belle Eden Park including a new bridge crossing across the waterway
  • New park benches
  • New picnic shelter
  • About 39,000 new shrubs, trees and plants
  • Rock lined low flow channel
  • Reinstatement of a riparian corridor to reinstate the attributes and qualities of a natural waterway
  • Several informal rock crossings for exploration and engagement with the waterway

    This project received $1.5 million funding through the Australian Government’s Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program. This program supports local councils to deliver priority local road and community infrastructure projects across Australia, supporting jobs and the resilience of local economies to help communities bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Karen Geiszler named finalist in national awards

Georgia Neville

No challenge has proven too big for Karen Geiszler who has developed her own range of hair and skin products, while also being nominated for two Australian Beauty Industry Awards.

From her salon and office set amongst gum trees just outside of Apple Tree Creek, Karen has been quietly competing against hair and beauty salons around the country.

She has been nominated for Educator of the Year for her one-woman training operation, KG Beauty and Modality Practical Training, and Sole Operator of the Year for her hairdressing, beauty and paramedical clinic.

Karen is being judged against salons and training organisations Australia-wide including Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.

She said having lived and worked in both the fast-paced world of Sydney and the relaxed, rural setting of regional Queensland, it meant she understood what it took to make a business work in a range of situations when faced with different challenges.

“As a clinic owner I understand the day-to-day needs and challenges of my clients, the students, and the salon owners,” Karen said.

“I understand how challenging it can be to get quality training at a time and location convenient to budget and operational requirements.

“I get so much enjoyment from sharing my passion and knowledge with other practitioners, particularly those based regionally who may not always have the same opportunities as city-based clinics.”

Through her training business, Karen provides bespoke beauty treatment training with options for both in-clinic and classroom delivery across Australia.

By travelling to salons in regional locations, she allows beauticians and clinics access to training in-clinic which means minimal business disruption and saving on the expense of travel and accommodation for staff.

Karen also offers customised training, tailored to the salon and staff and to the equipment they have in-salon.

Like her training business, Karen is also being recognised nationally as a finalist in the Sole Operator of the Year Category of the ABIA’s.

Karen owns and operates Karen Geiszler Hair and Beauty, Laser and IPL Clinic.

Services include IPL hair removal, facial treatments, plasma, laser skin rejuvenation, vascular lesions, laser tattoo removal, massage, waxing, event and wedding make-up, hair cutting and colouring services.

Karen also pivoted during her clinic’s shutdown last year by developing her own range of hair and skin products called KG Cosmeceuticals.

Following extensive testing and development and designing packaging, Karen has established online sales through her new website.

You can find out more about Karen Geizler here.

RipeGlobal takes dentistry training online

Emma Turnbull

Bargara may be a small seaside community but it's home to a dentistry training business making global waves with students in 55 countries and teachers in about 40.

Bargara dentist Lincoln Harris has taken the world by storm with RipeGlobal leading the way in cloud delivered procedural dentistry training.

RipeGlobal launched in mid-2020 and uses a technology platform to connect students and teachers, delivering hands-on training right around the world.

With 15 years of dental educational training under his belt, Dr Linc is passionate about sharing his extensive knowledge and skills from the seaside community in regional Queensland.

“Most dentist in the world can’t afford the type of education that I deliver and that I consume,” Dr Linc said.

“There are huge barriers, and so RipeGlobal was started purely to remove barriers from dental education.

“So that more people could access better quality education – no matter their nation, their race, their sex, their religion and their wealth.”

The ‘ripe' in RipeGlobal is an acronym of restorative, implant, practice, excellence, and Dr Linc said it was the world’s leading cloud delivered procedural training business for dentist.

“Our whole goal is to make education more accessible, more inclusive, more effective and obviously provide greater social connection and support for our students,” he said.

Dr Linc said if he had lived in a metropolitan region, he would not have had to take the time to learn procedures that he now teaches to hundreds of other dentists from around the globe.

“Bargara is crucial to what we do,” he said.

“If I lived in Brisbane, I would never have had to learn many of the procedures that I have had to learn.

“Over time, being in Bargara has forced me to learn complex, multidisciplinary dentistry, and so, because I have had to learn it – I’ve then begun to teach it.

“I’ve been involved in social media for dentist for 15 years and we have 150,000 dentist that follow our groups.”

Dr Linc said RipeGlobal offered high-quality lectures and bootcamp style cloud-based hands-on learning to participants online.

“Last year RipeGlobal designed and manufactured simulation kits, which are shipped to students all around the world,” he said.

“This then allows the dental students or dentist to jump online, and take part in the hands-on education, while reducing the cost dramatically.”

Dr Linc said the cost was reduced by up to 76 per cent, and it also benefited the environment as it reduced carbon emissions.

“On top of that per student we save about 50 tonnes of carbon per course,” he said.

“That will become economic benefit over time.”

In the next 12 months, Dr Linc expects RipeGlobal to continue to grow as fast as it did in the first year, and he thanked the local community for its support.

“Another aspect of the Bundaberg Region is that people here are so supportive,” he said.

“Two of our largest investors are here, and literally we have well over $1 million of backing just from local people.

“That support from local people is just unbelievable, if we were in a bigger city, I think it would be more difficult to get the initial – as the initial start is by far the hardest.

“The things we are doing, you can’t copy someone because no one has ever done it before, we are the first and still the only people running courses of this type 12 months on.”

Last month RipeGlobal won Business of the Year Award at the Bundaberg Chamber of Commerce's Business Excellence Awards, which has helped spread the word about the growing business.

“It has been hugely helpful because we need so many people in marketing, finance, operations and assistants,” he said.

“Those awards have helped us to get people to start applying for jobs so that’s been really, really rewarding in so many ways.”

Alex Lloyd and local kids create 'Amazing' Auslan video

Twenty years after the debut of hit song Amazing, Alex Lloyd recreated the music video with a local Auslan children's group.

The well-known musician was booked to perform at the Milbi Festival but travelled to the region early to donate his time for the special performance.

The local performers make up the Live More Life's Auslan Children's Group.

Message stick shares Indigenous culture and history

Emma Reid

A message stick, which travelled to the Milbi Festival along the song-lines of the region’s First Nations People, helped to launch the event and share Indigenous culture.

Message sticks were used as communication tools between tribal groups over countless generations and this year it showcased the respect of cultural exchange from one Aboriginal Ranger group to another.

The significant tradition has been shared with the Bundaberg community thanks to Wakka Wakka Elder Maurice Mickelo who designed the message stick and the Bunya Mountains Murri Rangers who delivered it to the Gidarjil Land and Sea Rangers.

A special smoking ceremony was even held before it began its journey.

Gidarjil Land and Sea Ranger Des Purcell said carved and painted message sticks helped to provide connections between groups and they were particularly useful between different traditional owner groups who spoke different languages.

“The message stick is the earliest form of writing a letter,” he said.

“We use them to break down barriers between groups by engraving or painting pictures on them”.

Message sticks were used for a number of reasons to share news about ceremonial events like the Bunya (bonye-bonye) tribal gatherings or to give notice of marriage alliances and burials (sorry business).

“It’s an exchange of information to help us share resources about our country,” Des said.

“We have a different form now, like a telephone where the exchange happens.

“But it is important to keep this history going.”

Traditional message sticks were made and crafted from wood and were generally small and easy to carry, between 10 and 20 cm.

They were carved, incised, and painted with symbols and decorative designs conveying messages and information.

Des said the use of a message stick during Milbi Festival 2021 was significant as it helped share the history of traditional owners, by weaving Aboriginal culture into community events.

He said message sticks shared the history, culture and art of traditional owners, and it was symbolic in helping to connect communities.

“It’s a way of sharing our history while helping to break down barriers and close the gap between communities,” he said.

“They represent the journey of the Bunyas coming out to the coast.”

Indigenous Land and Sea Rangers use traditional knowledge and conservation practices to look after land and sea Country.

“These message sticks will stay in our care until the next Milbi Festival, when they will come out again to show the community.”

Turtle awareness campaign shares tips with tourists

 Megan Dean

Visitors to the Bundaberg Region can easily learn more about the impacts of lighting on local marine life with the launch of a Bundaberg Regional Council turtle awareness campaign.

 The video shares with visitors the significance of the Bundaberg Region’s shoreline as a nesting location for rare or threatened turtle species.

“Loggerhead turtles are endangered, so each of these tiny hatchlings is precious,” the video explains.

 “Just one in a thousand reach maturity and return to our beaches to nest.”

 Mayor Jack Dempsey said he encouraged everyone to take on the messaging of the turtle awareness campaign and help to reduce the glow.

 “Research tells us that turtles, including hatchlings, can become disorientated by bright lights,” Mayor Dempsey said.

 “Small and simple actions like turning out your lights or closing your curtains can make a big difference to the survival rate of the hatchlings.

 “Council has been working to achieve internationally recognised sustainable destination status through Ecotourism Australia and this campaign is just one of the ways we are supporting local industry to achieve this goal.”

 Elliott Heads Holiday Park has already signed up to display the video on a new screen soon to be installed.

 Managers Jess and Ross Threadgate said many visitors to the coastal location during nesting season were interested in seeing and learning more about turtles.

“Most people these days are pretty aware of the environment and want to be eco-friendly and do everything they can,” Jess said.

 “Most people coming through the door are asking about the local area and the environment already.

“We get a lot of families through so it opens up that discussion with the kids.”

With a number of low glow initiatives already in place throughout the park, including red lights around the office and camp kitchen, Jess said the turtle awareness campaign video would help guests to understand the importance of protecting turtles.

Turtle awareness campaign tips:

- After 7.30 pm between October and April help reduce the glow affecting our beaches by:

- Switching off unnecessary lights

- Closing curtains or blinds

- When driving, avoiding using high beam near beaches where possible

- Only using a small torch on the beach at night

 Local businesses keen to display the turtle awareness campaign video or provide visitors with turtle awareness campaign materials head to the project page for more information or call Council on 1300 883 699 to find out more. 

Council unveils expanded 2021 Christmas program

Megan Dean

The award-winning Bundaberg Regional Council Christmas program, launched last year, will be back and bigger than ever in 2021.

Popular sell-out events including Merry and Bright in the Botanic Gardens and Christmas on Bauble Street dining in Buss Park have been expanded to spread the joy of the season even further.

Both events received Parks and Leisure Australia Queensland awards and are national finalists for the 2021 Awards of Excellence.

Mayor Jack Dempsey said it was wonderful to see the popular events return this festive season.

“The Christmas program and displays delivered by the Bundaberg Regional Council team were extraordinary last year and I’m sure many residents will be thrilled to see these events returning,” Mayor Dempsey said.

“CBD trees will dazzle with light displays, the Botanic Gardens will be transformed into an enchanted Christmas wonderland and Buss Park will once again host the elegant bauble dining event.

“These events were introduced on a trial basis in 2020 as our events team quickly adapted to the ever-changing situation and the requirements of delivering Covid-safe events.

“This year they’ve been expanded so there will be extra showings of the Merry and Bright in the Botanic Gardens and more Christmas on Bauble Street dining options.

“In fact this year, in addition to our catered evenings, you can also book a bauble in Buss Park for the whole family and bring along your own picnic hamper.

“The 2021 Christmas program is an excellent opportunity to come together as a community and celebrate the year that was.”

The 2021 Christmas program will launch on December 1 and continues through to December 20.

Bundaberg Regional Council Arts, Culture and Events portfolio spokesperson Cr John Learmonth said there would be something for everyone throughout the extensive program.

“Council, community groups and businesses have collaborated to deliver what could possibly be the biggest ever Christmas program delivered by BRC,” Cr Learmonth said.

“Whether it’s a free movie screening, a dazzling public light display or an evening out with friends for a special event at a fabulous local restaurant, there really is something for every member of the community to enjoy.

“They say it’s the most wonderful time of the year and the 2021 Christmas program is certainly making that a reality in the Bundaberg Region!”

The full 2021 Christmas program is available to view here, with tickets on sale from midday Wednesday 17 November.

What's on

Kate’s cottage garden springs to life

Morgan Everett

The vision of a cottage garden planted the seed that grew Kate Brignull’s passion for gardening, going on to transform her outdoor space head to toe with floral colour.

After moving in a year and a half ago, it was clear the backyard needed a facelift, with plants on top of plants Kate said she first began with removing the foliage.

“The elderly couple we bought it off weren’t able to maintain the garden as you could tell when we moved in,” Kate said.

“Everything was in need of some love and care to bring the plants to life again.”

Kate said after researching how to achieve a cottage style garden, it set her soul on fire and the passion continued to grow.

“I have spent a lot of time and money at Bunnings, trialling plants, different fertilisers, compost and soils,” she said.

“So much stuff was beyond a good prune back, there were lots of weeds, rocks and old irrigation systems that no longer worked.

“We found about five garden hoses amongst our travels within the gardens, that’s how random it was.”

Kate said the soil changed throughout the property which required a lot of compost, potting soil, and mulch to add the much-needed nutrients.

“There is red clay on one side and then very moisture retaining clumpy soil in other parts of the gardens,” she said.

“I have started exploring seed sowing recently and had some fails and some success.”

The inconsistent soil was not the only hurdle Kate had overcome.

She said her love of hydrangeas had led her to learn they were difficult to keep happy.

“Lots of research on different species and their wants and needs, I’m hoping by next season they would have sprung back to looking stunning,” Kate said.

The colourful blooms do not go to waste, as Kate likes to experiment with flower pressing and make flower arrangements to gift to friends and family.

The Bundaberg green thumb said that all the perennials should be right at home and happy by next season and the annuals added that seasonal interest.

“It’s fun playing around and trying different hanging baskets and pots,” she said.

“It’s an inexpensive way to add colour and happiness to the garden that’s for sure.”

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Book review

Bundaberg NRL game to drive junior sport opportunities

Megan Dean

"When they're in New South Wales they are the Canterbury Bulldogs, when they are in Queensland they are the Bundaberg Bulldogs!"

That was the sentiment from Mayor Jack Demspey as he welcomed news this week that Bundaberg would host an NRL game in August next year.

The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs will play the North Queensland Cowboys for NRL premiership points at Salter Oval in August, with the game set to open up plenty of opportunity for junior sport in the region through coaching clinics and more.

"We want to make sure Bundaberg is seen as a breeding ground for rugby league talent and we certainly appreciate the commitment from the Bulldogs in coming to regional Queensland," Mayor Dempsey said.

"It's not just about developing rugby league, it is about developing a culture with the Canterbury Bulldogs so there is a clear pathway for our juniors.

"They can set their vision and goal right from primary school and all the way through."

A partnership between Bundaberg Regional Council, the State Government and the Bulldogs is bringing the clash to Bundaberg, providing an economic boost to the region and delighting and inspiring local rugby league fans.

Mayor Jack Dempsey said it was exciting to see the Bundaberg NRL game confirmed.

“I’ve been talking to the Bulldogs and State Government about this for several months and it’s terrific to see it come to fruition,” Mayor Dempsey said.

“Council is contributing $150,000 cash and in kind.

“It’s an investment that will bring top-class professional sport to Bundaberg, provide national media exposure and inspire our youth.

“The club is keen to develop a partnership with Bundaberg that includes community engagement and coaching clinics.

“Salter Oval will be decked out with temporary stands and amenities to cater for an expected crowd of 10,000 people.”

Member for Bundaberg Tom Smith said the announcement was a “gamechanger” for the region.

“This is about the State Government, Council and the NRL working together to bring something iconic to Bundaberg,” he said.

“In the past we have had trial matches and we have had the Maroons up here as well but this is the real thing, the real deal.

“We can't wait to see kick off next year for Round 21, 2022.”

Bulldogs welcome Bundaberg NRL game

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs board director Andrew Gifford said the club was ecstatic to announce the Bundaberg NRL game.

“We are very pleased to be part of the region and commit to the region,” Mr Gifford said.

“We are looking forward to playing here.

“The collaborative approach here in Bundaberg will make this a great event and hopefully we can do it in years to come.

“Our players want to come up and be part of the community.”

He said, while it was dependent on schedules ahead of the Bundaberg NRL game, the Bulldogs would like to take part in school and community events.

See the full 2022 NRL draw at nrl.com.