Weekender: Childers ambulance

Longest-studied flatback returns home to Mon Repos

Ashley Schipper

The first turtle to nest at Mon Repos this summer has a very special connection to the area.

Known as flatback turtle X23103, she is one of the world’s longest-studied marine turtles, breeding for at least 47 years and visiting Mon Repos for more than 18 nesting seasons.

Wildlife officers from the Department of Environment and Science have been learning from X23103 ever since she was tagged at Mon Repos in 1974.

“She has so far accomplished 82 nesting crawls at Mon Repos,” a DES spokesperson said.

“She has laid more than 40 clutches with a nesting success of 49%.”

Mon Repos supports the largest concentration of nesting marine turtles on the eastern Australian mainland and has the most significant loggerhead turtle nesting population in the South Pacific region.

The success of nesting and hatching turtles at Mon Repos is critical for the survival of the endangered loggerhead turtle.

Plenty to learn from Mon Repos flatback

Like other turtles being studied at Mon Repos, X23103 is teaching wildlife officers how long they live and how often they breed.

“Satellite telemetry tracking of X23103 during her 2015-16 breeding season showed that she lives in Repulse Bay, 648 km north of Mon Repos beach,” the DES spokesperson said.

“She has a long-term fidelity with one nesting beach at Mon Repos, and in 2015 was recorded swimming 645 kilometres in 28 days, coming from Repulse Bay where she forages in the off season.”

According to the Department of Environment and Science, flatback turtles lay the fewest eggs of any marine turtle, with approximately 50 eggs per nest buried under the sand.

They return to the region of their origin to breed, with females then laying their eggs on a nesting beach.

Historic carriage with special Bundaberg connection restored

Megan Dean

A 100-year-old guard’s van, which is one of only two still in existence in Queensland, has been lovingly restored by passionate members of the Bundaberg Historical Railway Society.

Constructed of timber and brass the ornate carriage may no longer traverse the tracks but can still take its passengers on a trip down memory lane.

From paper-wrapped parcels to vintage uniforms, stepping aboard the restored DAV 993 – or Davidson A class Van - is akin to stepping back in time.

Bundaberg Historical Railway Society president Jim Morris said the restoration had been a labour of love for about half a dozen of its members.

“It’s our pride and joy to look after it because it's only one of two in existence in the Queensland Railway,” Jim said.

“It's made a great difference to us because it's such a popular tourist attraction for us.”

The society has been working overtime to complete the project this year in time for the carriage’s 100-year anniversary on 6 December 2021.

It was commissioned in Ipswich as a first-class sleeper carriage and has gone through two transformations to become what it is today, a guard’s van with passenger seating.

Jim said at the time, which would have been around 1981, the guard was in charge of the train and this particular carriage was “palatial”.

“The guard was in charge of the train as opposed to the driver, so he guarded the train, hence the name guard.

“His responsibility was to make sure everything was recorded when they arrive somewhere, when they left.

“He had the ability to make a cup of tea, the ability to - if the carriage was on its own - to shut it down with a hand brake.

“Communicating with the drivers at the front, he could use this valve here just by going clunk, clunk at the air pressure, and the driver would know ‘whoops, time to go’ if they couldn't see each other.

“They used to pay the men on the track cash every week, so that was part of their job.

“So they played an important role in the life of Queensland railway.”

The carriage was donated to the museum in 1989 through a chance meeting in Rockhampton.

In another twist of fate, the very same carriage had been used previously by the museum in the 1980s to ferry passengers between Bundaberg and Gin Gin.

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Life members contribute to restoration

Bundaberg Railway Historical Society life members Eddie Wolff and Gary Fletcher are two of the members that, alongside Jim, have spent countless hours restoring the carriage.

Each of them also have a special connection to the railway but circumstances had prevented both from pursuing a career in the industry.

For Eddie, whose father was in the railway for 30 years, he was unable to take up a lad porter position at Roma Street because he had no family to stay with in Brisbane.

Instead, he completed his blacksmith apprenticeship in Bundaberg and worked with Bonnells for 46 years.

“So when jobs come up here that need a tradesman, I'm the only tradesman in the group, so I cop everything,” Eddie laughed.

At 84 years of age he’s also the club’s oldest member but that didn’t slow him down in the restoration process.

“I did the clamps that hold the fence each end, like on the verandas, did the timber work on the verandas and steel work where the gas bottles go.

“There was a lot of rust in them - had to cut out and put new steel in - and various jobs inside here.

“I like to see the guard's van completed to its near original condition.”

Gary was destined to become a third-generation railway worker and follow his passion to drive locomotives, before his father told him he couldn’t work in a job that would involve so much shift work.

Instead, he became a teacher but his passion for rail never diminished.

“I've always had a longing for the railway station,” Gary said.

The opportunity to restore the historic guard’s van was a dream come true.

“I was very keen to get into it because I could see, like Eddie, getting it back to what it was when it came out of the Ipswich Railway workshops in 1921, a hundred years ago, and we did our bit to try and get it back to that sort of condition.”

He said they were not only preserving railway history but an important part of Queensland’s history as well.

“We're rapidly changing and there's the era, the kids today, just didn't experience what I experienced, and they don't know about how the railways virtually opened up the state.

“If it wasn't for the railways, a lot of the places would not have been opened up and developed like they were.

“And that part of the history is sort of being forgotten by today's generation.

“And of course, they won't have the thrill of travelling around on the back of a train anymore because the guard’s vans have been taken off the trains, they no longer exist.”

Both men have seen incredible development in the railway industry in their time.

“Well, I've started off with the steam locos and put your head out the window and you got soot in your eyes,” Gary said.

“It was painful and you soon learnt not to do it!

“And then you progress to the diesel haul trains. And now we've got the electric trains, and then we've got also the tilt trains.

“We've progressed from the maximum permissible speed of 80 kilometres an hour to 160 – double - in my era.”

The Bundaberg Railway Historical Society is eagerly applying some finishing touches to the carriage restoration and are excited to share the guard’s van with resident and visitors.

The Bundaberg Railway Historical Society museum is located at 28 Station Street, North Bundaberg.

The guard’s van, and the many other interesting items on display within the complex, can be viewed Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays between 8.30 am and 2.30 pm.

Admission:  Adults - $6; School age children - $3; Seniors -$5; Family - (eg 2 adults, 2 children) - $15; Groups by negotiation.

For more information head to the society’s Facebook page.

Active volunteering program to inspire local youth

Ashley Schipper

The region's youth will have more opportunity to gain experience in active volunteering thanks to a new Council program being launched early next year.

From February to June 2022 Bundaberg Regional Council, in partnership with Volunteers Queensland, will be delivering a Certificate II in Active Volunteering.

The initiative is part of the Community Resilience Youth Program which aims to provide young people the opportunity to increase their community engagement.

The Community Resilience Youth Program is open to people aged 14 to 18 years who live in and are enrolled at a high school in the Bundaberg Region and will be hosted outside of school hours.

Mayor Jack Dempsey said the program would feature a range of benefits for those involved, including the chance to build upon skills and create relationships within the community.

“This program is a fantastic way to build real-world skills, experiences and confidence that is required in today’s workplaces,” he said.

“Not only will participants be able to develop their employability, but they will also be able to embrace networks within the community and, importantly, learn more about the transition into life after school.”

Mayor Dempsey said volunteering was an integral and honourable role which could be utilised in a range of services including disaster management, community assistance, charity work and more.

“Volunteers are the backbone of our community and, without them, we would not have the many great services and organisations operating int he region today,” he said.

“Also, in a time of uncertainty, it is important to learn how to give, and not just receive.”

Registration is now open for the program with places limited.

Information sessions will be held across the region, where participants will be provided with details and enrolment forms.

Information sessions will be held at :

Gin Gin: Monday 6 December: 5pm – 6pm: Gin Gin Community Hub – HH Innes Room

Bundaberg: Wednesday 8 December: School of Arts- 186 Bourbong Street: 5pm – 6pm

Childers: Thursday 9 December: Childers Neighbourhood Centre: 5pm – 6pm

To RSVP your attendance to Council's Community Resilience Coordinator on 1300 883 699 or by emailing ceo@bundaberg.qld.gov.au

This program is funded by the Australian Government under the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements. The qualification being delivered will be CHC24015 Certificate II in Active Volunteering RTO 6020.

50 years of safety and security for Rechenberg

Georgia Neville

When local business Rechenberg was established 50 years ago, it was a man in a van travelling throughout Queensland offering security and locksmithing services.

Now, the third-generation business has grown to a team of over 30 people and monitors tens of thousands of alarm signals across every state and territory of Australia and New Zealand on a daily basis.

The local company is celebrating 50 years of their safety and security services this month, with managing director Michael Rechenberg looking back on the changes that had impacted the business over time.

“It is great to be able to keep our national headquarters here in Bundaberg and while we have established an office in Brisbane, most of the operations are run locally,” Michael said.

“A lot of people just see Rechenberg as locksmiths from what they see from the shopfront or when we are cutting keys and doing different things in store.

“In the back end though, we are actually monitoring alarm clients all over Australia and New Zealand, so every state and territory we cover with the alarm monitoring side of things and there is a lot of different technology involved as well.”

Rechenberg was originally established in Bundaberg in 1971 by Mr Gordon Rechenberg and his wife Marion as a family business named Lock Sales and Service.

The company specialised in locksmithing, with the focus of the business on security in the form of locks, safes and related services.

Gordon first delved into the world of electronic security in the mid 1970s, being one of the first to do so at the time.

“Dad started the electronic security side of the business around 1975 and then started a control room in the late 1970s with technology that was pretty much ahead of its time, especially for a regional centre like Bundaberg,” he said.

With changes in business, the electronic security side slowed and closed, taking Lock Sales and Service back to basics.

In 1992, Lock Sales and Service was renamed to Rechenberg Locksmiths Pty Ltd, which was changed to Rechenberg Pty Ltd in 1993.

This marked the business' second foray into electronic security with the supply, installation and monitoring of alarm systems via their 24/7 control room.

This control room opened a world of opportunity for the team, enabling them to expand their reach further than ever before and monitor electronic security systems, medical alarms, and other electronic devices.

“The boom was probably right time. right place,”Michael said.

“In the early 1900s the electronic side of the industry really took off and I guess we were already equipped to run with this so perhaps there is a little bit of luck that we got into it when we did.

“It all started again because I was out and about on the tools at that time after completing my apprenticeship.

“From the business we had at the time, I had customers saying to me you need to get back into the electronic side so I started to ask the questions and pushed to restart it, with it opening and growing very quickly from there.”

Ten years later in 2003, the business had outgrown its location, moving to 7a Maryborough Street, which was Bundaberg's former ambulance station.

“To ensure it was suitable for all of Rechenberg’s requirements, the building underwent a major renovation with the control room being purpose-built to Australian standards,” Michael said.

“This allowed Rechenberg to be one of the few Grade A control rooms in Australia and allowed us to monitor Australia-wide from Bundaberg.

“Our only real restriction for who and where we can monitor now is that they speak English – so we can monitor anywhere in the world as long as they speak English – from right there in Bundaberg.”

Michael and the team look forward to continuing to provide their high quality services to both the local community and those around Australia for many more years to come.

“Looking into the future we will continue to work on the electronic security side of the business,” he said.

“We do a lot of different things such as alarm monitoring and we continue to look to move away from being a security alarm monitoring company to an alarm monitoring company.

“While that sounds pretty much the same it is different being a security device to being a medical device or it could be anything that sends an alarm out to monitor, that type of thing.”

Cherished memories of dancing keep Chris moving

Ashley Schipper

Chris Cook has always loved to dance.

The Childers local, alongside her late husband Mike, spent many years teaching people different dance routines as part of their classes at Apple Tree Creek Memorial Hall.

It was a place of joy for many with plenty of events and celebrations – including the tradition of the Apple Blossom Ball – providing a space to move, groove and have a good time.

“Mike and I taught hundreds of debutantes to dance over the years,” Chris said.

“We also hosted a dance party for the kids, movie nights, old time dancing, belly dancing, line dancing, modern dancing, cloggers and more.

“Dance lessons were held weekly on a Wednesday night at Apple Tree Creek Community Hall and we would have special events and dress up once a month.”

Dance lessons have not resumed to the ATC Hall since COVID impacted classes in early 2020.

Chris has looked back on her life, and her dancing days, as part of Bundaberg Regional Council's Our People Our Stories initiative.

She said she threw herself into dancing and teaching after finishing Year 10.

“After school I went on to land a job at Isis Body Works for over a decade,” Chris said.

“I was at Isis State High School as a teacher aide, work experience coordinator and in the office – I just loved it.

“My husband Mike drove the school bus, he assisted with manual arts and he drove the kids to TAFE in Bundaberg.”

Mike passed away five years ago and Chris said he had left her with beautiful memories of a passion for dance that they both shared.

And even after suffering a life-changing incident which left her permanently disabled, Chris said she still managed to “keep on dancing” for Mike, thanks to the many wonderful people who had supported her.

“I had an accident at school and fell backwards and hit my head,” she said.

“I had a brain bleed which affected the left side of the body and my back – it has left me with a permanent disability.”

Chris said although she could no longer move in the same way, she continued to teach.

“I love teaching people to dance, I just show people what I know,” she said.

“I love to watch the kids dance. I love to see people enjoy themselves.”

Ian Watson's career takes flight in Bundaberg

Ashley Schipper

Bundaberg man Ian Watson has had an extensive career as a pilot and aircraft engineer which has taken him across Australia and the world.

As part of Bundaberg Regional Council's Our People Our Stories project, Ian has been recognised for his work at his former business Watson's Aviation.

It was established in 1997 at a hangar at the Bundaberg Airport and focused on aircraft repairs and rebuilds.

“In that time, we also used to build the wings and centre section for the replica spit fire fighters,” Ian said.

“Some were pretty extensive rebuilds from age, corrosion, neglect, fatigue.

“On the side we built 33 sets of spitfire wings, and each was about 200-man hours… it kept my staff in jobs.

“We had between six to eight people employed for about 10 years.”

Before his Bundaberg business was established, Ian said he got his start in the aviation industry after becoming a diesel fitter mechanic.

“I went to Papua New Guinea as a mechanic in the Sepik River area and got involved in building air strips in remote areas,” he said.

“I worked as both a mechanic and on improving existing airstrips and while I was doing that, I had the opportunity to have a go at flying which is where I first started to learn to become a pilot.”

Before locating to the region, Ian said he worked on many different locations with planes and was even employed as a pilot mechanic on a cattle station during 1980 and 1986.

“I did a small amount of crop work spreading and dropping fertiliser over crops,” he said.

After moving to Bundaberg and operating Watson's Aviation for more than a decade, Ian went mobile as an aircraft engineer.

“I also got involved in a research and development project for an overseas military developing a drone engine in partnership with the Australian Government and a small team,” he said.

“We spent nearly 12 months converting a Jabiru engine for use as a drone engine for the military.

“We had lots of failures; we had more failures than we had successes but you learn a lot from failures.

“Eventually we got some pretty smart stuff that worked and, in the end, it was relatively simple.”

Nowadays, Ian has put his pilot licence away and spends his time teaching backpackers the English language and the “Aussie way of life”.

He said while he had achieved some amazing and technical things in the world of aircraft engineering, he would always be old fashioned at heart.

“I’ve lived most of my life without ever having a phone,” Ian said.

“Same with flying, I don’t even use a GPS, I just turn that off and use the old DRD system, which is Deduced Reckoning Navigation.

“My motto in life is just do the very best you can with what you’ve got and if you haven’t got much, just do the very best you can.

Christmas movies spread cheer across region

Georgia Neville

Christmas movies in the park are back as part of this year’s Bundaberg Regional Council Christmas program, providing a free night of family fun for all.

Gather the family for a night of fun across the region, with movie screenings at Alexandra Park in Bundaberg, the Childers Showgrounds and the Gin Gin Showgrounds.

Council’s Arts, Culture and Events portfolio spokesperson Cr John Learmonth said the movie nights provided a great opportunity to spend time together with family or friends, getting in the spirit of Christmas.

“The free movies in the park are a great chance for you to get your family and friends together and celebrate the most wonderful time of the year,” Cr Learmonth said.

“We look forward to seeing many people out and about enjoying the nights, as well as many of the other events that are on offer as part of the extensive Christmas program.”

For more on the Christmas movies in the park or to book head to the Christmas program here.

Christmas movies in the park

Bundaberg – Elf

Buddy (Will Ferrell) was accidentally transported to the North Pole as a toddler and raised to adulthood among Santa's elves. Unable to shake the feeling that he doesn't fit in, the adult Buddy travels to New York, in full elf uniform, in search of his real father. As it happens, this is Walter Hobbs (James Caan), a cynical businessman. After a DNA test proves this, Walter reluctantly attempts to start a relationship with the childlike Buddy with increasingly chaotic results.

Date: Saturday 4 December
Time: 6 pm start for a 7 pm movie
Cost: Free admission, bookings required (max 6 tickets per transaction).
Location: Alexandra Park, Quay St

Childers – Arthur Christmas

Everyone knows that, each Christmas, Santa Claus delivers presents to every last child on Earth. What everyone doesn't know is that Santa accomplishes the feat with a very high-tech operation beneath the North Pole. But when the unthinkable happens, and Santa misses one child out of hundreds of millions, someone has to save the day. It's up to Arthur (James McAvoy), Santa's youngest son, to deliver a present to the forgotten tyke before Christmas morning dawns.

Date: Saturday 4 December
Time: 5 pm start for a 7 pm movie
Cost: Free admission, bookings required (max 6 tickets per transaction).
Location: Childers Showgrounds, 5 Ridgway St

Gin Gin – Search for Santa Paws

Santa Claus and his faithful canine companion Santa Paws leave their chilly home at the North Pole on an important mission. They must try to persuade the heir of one of their greatest benefactors, toy store owner Mr Hucklebuckle, to continue with his grandfather's good works.

Date: Friday 10 December
Time: 5.30 pm start for a 7 pm movie
Cost: Free admission, bookings required (max 6 tickets per transaction).
Location: Gin Gin Showgrounds

Book one of the Christmas movies in the park here.

Uzi becomes top dog after Bundaberg training

Emma Turnbull

Police Dog (PD) Uzi has taken some big steps since he was first stationed with Bundaberg Police as an eight-week-old pup.

After 20 months of hard work, dedicated pup Uzi was one of 43 to graduate on Wednesday and be inducted into the Queensland Police Service.

As a member of U Litter, the German shepherd spent his first year alongside Bundaberg's Senior Constable Luke Giese as they embarked on a training course to ultimately land him the role of General Purpose Police Dog.

Even from the beginning Senior Constable Giese said he had big plans for Uzi, and now those dreams have come true as he settles into his role as PD in Townsville.

PD Uzi spent about 12 months in the Bundaberg Region in his mentorship, where he learnt the skills that have helped him become one of Queensland Police’s top dogs.

In July, after only two weeks of official police business, Uzi had already shown his worth as he successfully completed his first operation as he tracked down two men following a break and enter in Townsville.

Uzi completed a 14-week course involving tracking, obedience and building searches and is among the best of the new four-legged police recruits.

Uzi now lives with his new handler Senior Constable David Forrest of Townsville Dog Squad, and he believes PD Uzi is the top dog for the job.

“PD Uzi is very relaxed when not working and is known to nap in the back of police cars, but when the job’s on he is very focused and driven,” he said.

“In particular, PD Uzi shows great drive and interest in tracking, and really enjoys the reward he gets after a successful track.”

PD Uzi and Senior Constable Forrest completed the 14-week Dog Squad course together, addressing a number of different core dog squad capabilities including tracking, building searching, obedience and suspect apprehension.

“PD Uzi has been stationed in Townsville since the start of July, and has been working operationally since then,” he said.

“We are both progressing really well up here as a team and look forward to a long successful career together.”

What's on

Creativity flows in Heather's family garden

Morgan Everett

Since moving into her Norville property over 50 years ago, Heather Ryan never imagined her garden would be as bright as it is today.

Sprouting from a collaborative effort between Heather and her creative son, the outdoor space has been bought to life in the past 18 months.

The garden features a variety of flowering plants and fruit trees which Heather said has seen her spend far more time in her outdoor space.

“I like to stand there watering the garden and if I see a weed I can tend to it straight away,” Heather said.

“Coming out to see everything growing and the variety of colours brings me joy, but I especially love my roses and orchids.

“I have a number of garden lights which allow me to also enjoy the garden at night.”

Although not from a family of gardeners, Heather has always loved gardening including everything from planting to propagating.

“I’m always looking to grow the number of plants in my garden and find propagating my own plants a great way to achieve this,” she said.

To further enhance the garden designed by her son, Heather has added her own touch, incorporating a number of animal statues throughout.

“If I’m out and see a statue that I like I will buy it, I love what they add to the garden,” she said.

Heather said the pomegranate trees featured in her backyard held a special place in her heart, thanks to treasured memories of her son.

“I used to suffer from really bad nose bleeds, I’ve ended up in an ambulance three times because of it,” she said.

“He made me drinks out of the pomegranates along with orange juice as it’s really good for you.

“I now use the pomegranates to make my own juice.”

The garden has a range of other fruit trees including mandarin, lemon and orange trees.

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Recipe - omelette
Book review

New backstroke ledges arrive in time for City of Charm

Ashley Schipper

New backstroke ledges which assist competition swimmers during the start-up of their race have been installed at Norville Park Swimming Pool just in time for the City of Charm event being held this weekend.

Bundaberg Regional Council has worked with the Bundaberg Swimming Academy to install the ledges, which are being put to good use as more than 400 swimmers compete in the annual competition across three days.

Sport and Recreation portfolio spokesperson Cr Vince Habermann said the ledges were beneficial to local and visiting swimmers in many ways.

“This specialised equipment hooks over the top of the starting blocks and can assist with improving the start push and trajectory of the swimmer when entering the water,” he said.

“Each device features five different adjustment positions, grip handle, anti-skid surface and more.

“By using the backstroke ledge a swimmer gains power and force when entering the water.”

Cr Habermann said the ledges were an integral device in preparing local swimmers for competition or even for a possible future in the Olympics or Commonwealth Games.

“The ledges are FINA compliant which gives swimmers in the Bundaberg Region some experience using them in a race setting before they progress further to state or national trials,” he said.

“Overall, it could also greatly assist in getting our local swimmers to an Olympic or Commonwealth Games standard.

“Bundaberg already has a number of amazing Olympic swimmers and these devices will help our future sports stars to train like the best.”

The ledges are not the only addition to Norville Pool in recent times, with the devices complementing a timing system and scoreboard which were installed a few years ago.

Jessica Watson of the Bundaberg Swimming Academy said the ledges had arrived just in time for the 48th City of Charm swimming competition weekend.

She said the ledges would give regional swimmers an opportunity to prepare themselves for championship meets.

“Norville Park Swimming Pool has state of the art facilities that just keep getting better every year,” Jessica said.

“This year we see the introduction of backstroke ledges that are brand new to Bundaberg.

“This is the only regional venue that provides this opportunity for swimmers to prepare themselves for State and National Championships.”

Olympic swimmers take part on City of Charm
Jessica said this year's meet was the biggest since 2001, with 412 swimmers ranging from eight years old to 33 years old participating.

She said among the crowd would be some familiar faces, with five Olympic swimmers also attending the event.

Local swimmers will meet with Olympians Isaac Cooper, David Morgan, Alexander Graham, Thomas Neill and Paralympian Liam Schluter.

“It’s a fantastic year to swim alongside their Olympic heroes, especially Isaac Cooper, but we also see a great depth of field in all age groups,” Jessica said.

“This meet benefits Bundaberg is so many ways, we are bringing around 350 families into the region who will be here for the weekend, this not only helps accommodation providers but also hospitality venues.

“Specifically to the swimmers, this provides our local swimmers the best opportunity to have some serious competition in their own back yard.”

Bundaberg Region Mayor Jack Dempsey will welcome swimmers at the official opening tomorrow morning and said he was thrilled to see such a large take up of participants at the local event.

“It's fantastic to see that more than 400 swimmers are participating in the City of Charm event and I want to congratulate organisers for putting together an amazing carnival,” he said.

“Bundaberg is the home of many great swimmers who have gone on to achieve Olympic status and I am sure there are many more of our future Olympians ready to swim their hearts out in this weekend's event.

“Good luck to everyone involved!”

The 48th City of Charm meet is held at Norville Park Swimming Pool this weekend.