Weekender: Lifesavers honoured

Boreham Park upgrade transforms popular area

Ashley Schipper

Stage Two of an upgrade to Boreham Park has just been completed with a new toddler swing, water bubbler, shelter area, barbecue and more added to the popular recreational space.

The work follows on from the major refit of new play equipment earlier in the year, with the space offering families and park visitors exciting features including a zero-depth water play area, adventure tower and in-ground trampoline.

Divisional representative Cr John Learmonth said it was fantastic to see the completed works bringing the area to life with an all-new look and feel.

“The upgrade has transformed the space into a modern and exciting place of recreation that local families are loving,” he said.

“This next stage of the upgrade has carried on with the wonderful transformation of the area to include a new water bubbler, barbecue and shelter within the park.

“A new concrete pathway and fresh turf have also been installed in the area along with the replacement of the toddler swing.”

Cr Learmonth said the final stage of the upgrade would be implemented when the popular clown swing makes its way back to the park.

“The clown swing, which is a well-loved piece of equipment for many, was taken down to be refurbished and will eventually be re-installed at Boreham Park,” he said.

The Boreham Park playground upgrade is a joint initiative of Bundaberg Regional Council and the Queensland Government.

Local surf lifesavers honoured with National Medal

Ashley Schipper

Two local surf lifesavers and life members of the Elliott Heads Surf Life Saving Club have recently been honoured with the prestigious National Medal.

Dale Leggett and Trevor Harvey were presented with the award by Surf Life Saving Australia, which recognises individuals who risk their lives or safety to protect or assist the community in enforcement of the law or in times of emergency or natural disaster.

Both surf life savers have been an active part of the club for more than four decades between them and have many fond memories of their time in the sun, surf and sand.

Trevor said it was his son's involvement in Nippers that spurred him to become a members of the Elliott Heads Surf Life Saving Club in 2004.

“From being a patrolling member I then became Youth Development Officer, then I took on the role as Club Captain for 13 years and since then I have been club CTO (chief training officer),” he said.

“I love the mateship, helping people and I also love training and upskilling up-and-coming lifesavers.”

Trevor said there had been many memorable times during his membership, as well as some challenges.

“My most memorable time was in the 2013 floods when we got to coordinate with other life saving members on helicopters,” he said.

“The role has taught me that things can change, especially in the ocean, and you should never underestimate it.

“It has also taught me to just to be a caring person because in this role you put yourself in danger before anyone else.”

Dale Leggett said he had been involved with Elliott Heads Surf Life Saving Club for 23 years and loved the patrol group and the people he met every week.

“I have always been involved in surf life saving from a young age – I loved the beach so it was just a normal step,” he said.

“The role has taught me a lot about discipline and self belief.

“I've been involved in a few dangerous rescues over the years but to me its more about limiting the rescues with preventive actions and always teaching kids and or adults about the dangers of the beach early.”

About the National Medal

Established in 1975 as a military recognition award, the National Medal has since branched out into government and voluntary organisations and is now Australia’s most awarded civil medal.

The National Medal is available to Surf Life Saving Australia volunteers who are eligible with a minimum of 30 hours each season, who have completed a minimum period of 15 seasons, from 18 September 1986.

Dale and Trevor join a short but distinguished list of surf lifesavers from the Elliott Heads SLSC who have previously been presented with the National Medal, including:

- Scott Collins

- Brett Holden

- David Merefield Hawkeye Pearce (First Clasp – 25 years)

- Kristine Holden (First Clasp – 25 years)

- Craig Holden (First Clasp – 25 years)

To view the full list of award recipients click here.

Region experiences wettest November since 1934

Ashley Schipper

It's been the wettest November in the Bundaberg Region since 1934, with forecasters predicting more rain on the way in what is expected to be a very soggy few months.

Katrin Rosse from Robertson's Flower Farm said flower picking season had finished up at the Bargara Road property two days ago, just before the brunt of the weather arrived in the region this week.

"The rain for us helps with a lot of our prep work, like our ground prep," she said.

"Most importantly though we are just so happy that the rain is here to fill up Paradise Dam.

"We have been following the issue closely and supporting all of the other farmers in the region - to have that dam back at capacity for next year is just so vital."

The soggy start to the month saw some parts of the region record over 200mm within a single day – a stark comparison to the 1mm recorded for the whole month of November last year.

Bureau of Meteorology Climatologist Tamika Tihema said the forecast suggested even more rain was on the way for the remainder of November, which would completely trump current records.

“There are two long-term sites for Bundaberg,” Tamika said.

“The current (open) site is Bundaberg Airport which had its highest November monthly rainfall of 227.4mm in 1974,” Tamika said.

“The old (closed) site is Bundaberg Post Office which has the highest November monthly rainfall between the two sites, with 353.8mm in November 1934.”

Tamika said November 2021 had experienced huge rainfall totals within a range of suburbs.

“These include Moore Park 398mm (isolated extreme daily rainfall totals on the coast saw more than 200mm reported at this site on 18 November), Bundaberg 395mm and Bundaberg South 352mm,” she said.

A La Niña, declared by BOM earlier this week, is creating the wetter than average conditions with an increased risk of tropical cyclones, heavy rainfall and widespread flooding across eastern Australia.

“In Queensland, a trough is moving eastwards, combining with a moist onshore north to north-easterly airflow, this is producing showers and thunderstorms, some ever over much of eastern Queensland,” she said.

“The La Niña is established in the tropical Pacific and is likely to persist until the end of January.”

As well as the wet conditions, BOM reported the region was likely to experience warmer-than-average temperatures over the next few weeks.

Wettest November puts emergency services on alert

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Greg Leach said State Emergency Service crews were responding to requests for assistance.

“Queensland’s storm and cyclone season has well and truly kicked off and we’ve already seen several severe weather events across the state in the past weeks,” Mr Leach said.

“With rain forecast to stick around into next week, I know our QFES personnel will continue to step up to the job, but I encourage everyone to take proactive measures to prepare not just for the coming days, but for the coming weeks.

“Clear gutters, remove overhanging branches and make sure your emergency kit is up-to-date.”

Keep up to date during wet weather with the Disaster Dashboard.

Massive tank removed from river by Ocean Crusaders

Ashley Schipper

Boats, cranes, trucks and plenty of people power have combined to remove a 37,000 litre water tank from a local river system this week.

The mammoth effort was completed by Ocean Crusaders as part of their quarterly clean up within the region.

Founder and managing director of Ocean Crusaders Ian Thomson said the water tank was located in the Kolan River at Miara using Google Earth and had likely been there since the 2013 floods.

“We found out about the tank last time that we were here but couldn't locate it, so this time we found it on Google Earth and managed to pluck it out,” he said.

“We were able to cut it in half and get it to where it should be.

“It had a lot of holes in it so no one can reuse it but at least the plastic can now be recycled.”

Ian said although heavy and large, when water tanks were empty and caught in floodwaters, they became flotation devices.

“If the water rises enough they just float and that's what we have seen in the Kolan River,” he said.

“We are fortunate enough to have a bit of machinery with us so we were able to put the tank on to a portable winch on the boat and bring it in.

“It took about half an hour to tow it back to the ramp even though it was only a 1km trip.”

Ian said the water tank find was just a small percentage of the rubbish that was being dragged in from local rivers as part of the six-day trip.

“We have been hitting it pretty hard,” he said.

“We keep working through the rain and have managed to pull out five-and-a-half tonnes of rubbish in just four days.”

Ian said with the wet weather set to stick around, now was as good a time as any for residents to prepare their properties to ensure they don't become part of the litter problem within local waterways.

“We need to better prepare ourselves,” he said.

“Also, street rubbish is a big problem.

“Any time there is rain, all of the rubbish from our streets is washed right into the rivers.”

Under a Bundaberg Regional Council contract, organisation Ocean Crusaders travels the region's waterways every few months as part of its rubbish-removal process.

Southern Cross Support Services celebrates 10 years

Ashley Schipper

Southern Cross Support Services has celebrated its 10 year anniversary with the official opening of its new building called The Network.

The space is situated in Bolewski Street and once housed Aldi Supermarket.

The Network features offices for a range of service providers plus a crib area that provides clients with a space to relax and unwind.

Southern Cross Support Services CEO Cheryl Barrett said The Network development was another way the team was building on its commitment to the community since the business was established a decade ago.

“It has been a wonderful journey over the past ten years,” she said.

“Now to be in The Network, where we have a crib area for our clients and a space that is modern and has everything that we need for our employees, is wonderful for a regional area.

“I think disability support services are important in any region, whether you are rural, whether you are regional or whether you are in a metropolitan area.

“Certainly we need to have these services right here at our doorstep for the clients that really need us.”

SCSS was established in the region in 2011 by Greg and Karen Gaston.

Since then, it has expanded to not only operate from Bundaberg, but to employ more than 100 staff across the state and beyond.

Bundaberg local and SCSS client Terry Warden said he loved being part of a company which looked after him.

“They are a good company because they help people out always,” he said.

“They do good things like the farm animals and I want to say a big thank you because they are the best company.”

Find out more about Southern Cross Support Services on Facebook or the website.

'Miss Chappy' role one of many for Gin Gin's Leanne

Ashley Schipper

Described as a “real-life superhero” Leanne Lawrence has a strong dedication to helping others through various roles she has taken on within the Gin Gin community.

Leanne has been recognised as a strong and independent female leader as part of Bundaberg Regional Council's Our People Our Stories initiative.

Currently, Leanne is the school chaplain for Gin Gin State School and Mt Perry State School, with some students affectionately calling her “Miss Chappy”.

“If a teacher notices something isn’t quite right with someone, they let me know and I catch up with them to help them work through it,” she said.

“I often use different analogies for the kids to help them become aware of their own potential and what they can achieve.”

Leanne's journey to becoming “Miss Chappy” came from a background of helping as she worked with the Queensland Ambulance Service for 10 years between the Bundaberg and Gin Gin communities.

“With my new job as a chaplain, I wasn’t able to work enough hours with the ambulance service to maintain my skills, so I had to finish up even though I really enjoyed it,” she said.

“Then, a position as a fire fighter became an option for me to stay involved with the emergency services.

“My brother had been in the fire service for several years and he asked if I had ever thought about joining.

“I thought of it as a bit of a boy’s job at first but then I decided, well I can do all of those things!”

In 2013 Leanne became a fire fighter and said she loved every minute of her role and is still involved in the service today.

“I love the comradery within our crew and the support we give each other,” she said.

Leanne said her commitment to giving back to the community and passion for helping and supporting others had been instilled in her from her own parents.

“My dad was an ambo for 28 years and my mum was heavily involved in fundraising for the ambulance and was always a part of the school P&C when I was growing up,” she said.

“The Gin Gin State School creed ‘we are a community working together to be the best that we can be' really resonates with me.

“My faith gives me the strength to get through the tough times and motivates me to want the best for my community.

“I love my community and that’s why I do what I do.

“Surrounding yourself with people who fill up your cup is also important.”

A passion for history leads to a life of knowledge for Denise

Ashley Schipper

Denise Rapkins has had a love for history and teaching others for as long as she can remember.

From studying the subject at university while raising her three children to being part of the Childers Historical Society while working in her role as librarian, Denise said history had always called to her.

“I’ve always been interested in history and I have even written a couple of history books,” she said.

“I like to educate people on the history of our town.”

Denise has been recognised in Bundaberg Regional Council's Our People Our Stories project for her passion in teaching others through her various roles within the community.

She began working with people early on in life after becoming a public servant at the Department of Immigration, Centrelink and more.

“I worked in lots of different departments,” she said.

“I’m a very methodical person and a stickler for the rules!

“A job then came up at the Childers Library and I applied for it and thought, ‘what the hell'.”

Last year Denise was named the Childers Australia Day Committee Citizen of the Year for 2020 for her work at the local library.

Through her innovative thinking and willingness to try new initiatives, Denise brought life to the library activities and programs that resonated with younger and older readers alike.

“I’ve missed decorating for Halloween and Christmas,” she said.

It was through this work that she was able to integrate her love for history.

“At the time I was also secretary of the Historical Society and we donated old photos through the library to be archived and kept as records,” she said.

“I loved it, finding out how people used to live and how they got on with their lives,” she said.

“It’s not the buildings, it’s the people who lived in them.

“People’s stories are the best.”

While Denise no longer lives in Childers, she said she had made many fond memories of her time in the small community and said it would be a place she would always feel connected to.

“Life carries on, we had no intentions of ever moving,” she said.

“With a daughter still in Childers and another daughter in Bundaberg, we will still always be part of the community.”

Rare plants find new home in Botanic Gardens


Some very rare and unusual plants have found a new home in the Bundaberg Botanic Gardens.

Bundaberg Regional Council’s Parks and Gardens spokesperson Cr Wayne Honor this week planted one of 13 species which are new additions to the region’s plant collection.

The trees, shrubs and herbs were donated by the Tondoon Botanic Gardens in Gladstone as part of a collaboration within the Queensland network of botanic gardens.

Cr Honor said the new plants included species that were found in just a single location between Bundaberg and Gladstone.

“Botanists have found a small tree growing in rainforest at Bulburin, which is north-west of Gin Gin,” he said.

“It is called Bulburin Medicosma and it is the only place in the world where it is found.

“At the same location there is a small shrub called Bulburin Phyllanthus which also only grows there.
“Having these plants growing and labelled in the Botanic Gardens means that people can admire them without having to travel to remote areas.”

Both of these species are officially listed as vulnerable to extinction.

Some of the recently planted trees have medicinal properties, while others such as Brush Senna attract butterflies and bees.

Cr Honor said the Botanic Gardens was a living museum that provided a safety net for plant species.

“Our Botanic Gardens maintain plants away from their natural habitat and remind us that plants are vital for human life.

“The gardens also bring people together - to relax, walk, meet friends and attend events.

“They offer a retreat from busy, modern-day life and have a rich natural and cultural heritage.”

The plants have been placed in various locations around the Botanic Gardens, depending on their soil and light requirements.

What's on

Sue sows bright floral haven

Morgan Everett

Sue Gees’ outdoor space has undergone two years’ worth of beautification after the local resident developed a love for gardening from which she hasn’t looked back.

When Sue moved into her unit her garden was nothing but dirt and a few cacti.

Today it is a floral display that she and her neighbours enjoy.

“It was all dirt along here and I was sick of looking at it,” Sue said.

“I laid the bricks myself and painted them too.

“I’ve added another two gardens and I am always working on something.”

Trips to local garden suppliers have grown Sue’s collection and she said she never failed to come out with a trolley full of plants for the garden.

“Some of my friends have started calling me Sue Bunnings and I do respond to it,” Sue said.

“My kids hope I never want to move out as there’s too many plants to shift but I do enjoy it here greatly.”

After planting her favourite fruit tree Sue said she hoped to reap the rewards.

“I eat so much papaya, hopefully this will stop me spending $6 a kilo!”

Sue said fellow neighbours had enjoyed the transformation with the flow on effect uniting the garden community among the units’ residents.

“Others say it’s a credit to me and how beautiful it’s become,” she said.

“Often they’re taking photos and asking what plants are, then they’ll go buy plants for their garden.”

Sue said there was always something to do when spending time out in the garden.

“I always come out to relax and do a bit of watering,” she said.

“I love bright flowers and with a bit of tender loving care they come along great.”

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