Photo: Kangaroos at Woodgate by Sharon Davis
Locals band together to support Tonga
The Bundaberg Region community is banding together to support disaster relief efforts for Tonga after a volcanic eruption and tsunami devastated the country last month.
Organisations and businesses have been offering their support to the newly established Tonga Appeal, a fundraising initiative by Bundaberg Regional Council and Shalom College led by the local Tongan community.
NRL legend and local teacher Antonio Kaufusi approached Council with the idea of the appeal when he was trying to find a way to support his family members impacted by the emergency event.
The fundraising was kick-started by a $10,000 donation from Council, and through its weekly markets, Shalom College also donated $2000.
It has now reached more than $19,000 thanks to the help of locals.
Recently, The Catholic Parish of Bundaberg donated $2000 towards the cause after hosting a garage sale filled with furniture.
Father Peter Tonti said the pre-planned event had transformed into a fundraiser when the church community heard about how the emergency had impacted some of their own.
“The Kaufusi's are part of the lovely Tongan family who are parishioners at our church and we really wanted to help them in their cause for supporting the Tonga Appeal,” he said.
“We decided that the profits made from the furniture sale would go towards the charity.”
Six furniture items including tallboys and dressers were sold, allowing the church to contribute funds to the appeal.
Fr Peter said he was proud to be involved in supporting a great cause.
“That's what we are here for and that is part of our mission, to assist wherever and to whoever requires it,” he said.
Local businesses have also have joined in on the fundraising efforts including The Lighthouse Hotel, who have donated $1000 towards the appeal.
Manager Gavin Hales said through their weekly Burnett Heads raffles, organised by volunteers Ken Graham and Deb Mason, patrons had raised the funds.
“It's really the support from the locals that has made this possible,” he said.
“To be part of a community that is always so willing to give back to others is mind-blowing, it's amazing.
“The raffles are held every week with help from Ken and Deb and have evolved to raise enough money for not only the local area, but also a wider target which is fantastic.”
Community groups offer assistance
Community groups have jumped on board to assist Tonga, with many donating items or raising funds on their own accord.
Local Rotary clubs recently joined forces to gather more than 100 pieces of fishing equipment, including items such as spinning reels and tackle boxes, that will soon be sea freighted to the island.
Local Rotarian Phil Saxby said much of the tackle and some of the rod-reel combinations were brand new, and he thanked those who supported the cause.
Bundaberg Quilters Inc members are also busy raising funds for the victims of Tonga through the raffle of a quilt.
The raffle is being combined with the sale of handmade turtle toys to be available for sale at Woolworths Bargara tomorrow.
For more information head to the Bundaberg Quilters Inc Facebook page here.
Mayor thanks community for support
Bundaberg Region Mayor Jack Dempsey has thanked locals for their support of the Tonga Appeal.
He said with the current funding now reaching almost $20,000, money would begin to be filtered through to the country.
"While we are not yet at our fundraising goal, we will be sending the funding that we have so far to the Tongan community so they can work on getting their lives back to normality," he said.
"The devastation was major and will have an impact on the community for some time, however, we are hoping to be able to assist them in rebuilding by donating the funds that we have, as soon as possible.
"Thank you to all of those residents, organisations and businesses who have helped thus far. Your generosity is greatly appreciated."
How to donate to support Tonga Appeal:
Account name: Shalom College
BSB: 034 210
Account Number: 831 772
Reference: TONGA APPEAL
Or by visiting Shalom College or phoning the finance officer on 4155 8111.
50 years of learning for Mrs Wedemeyer
If there is one thing that Jenny Wedemeyer has come to know in her 50 years of teaching, it's that she has never once stopped learning.
The Bundaberg woman recently celebrated five decades as a Catholic Education teacher and in that time, has always held a strong passion for making a difference to the lives of her students.
It’s been an interesting journey for Mrs Wedemeyer and while she still isn’t sure when she will retire, she does know that she will be guided in the same direction as she has been throughout her whole career – the right one.
Looking back she said she believed that she strived to do her best, instilling a range of values into each student that she had the pleasure of teaching.
“My lifelong commitment to my vocation of teaching has formed me as a lifelong learner, striving to be the best possible teacher of whatever subject that appears on my timetable,” Mrs Wdemeyer said.
“I strive to help the students to be the best they can be, while valuing each one by treating each as a young adult, empowering them to be.”
Mrs Wedemeyer, who is currently working at Shalom College, said over the years her classroom teaching experience had featured a diverse range of subjects including maths, English, history, religion and drama.
She said her highlight of her time at Shalom had been when she was drama coordinator.
“I fostered Christian dance, drama and clowning with student success at local, Maryborough and Gladstone eisteddfods while groups of my students committed to participation in Catholic Parish Masses and Year 12 graduation ceremonies when church services were still an integral part,” Mrs Wedemeyer said.
“This creative ministry empowered me to be holistically fulfilled as a Christian educator.”
Mrs Wedemeyer started her teaching career back in her hometown of Gayndah after attending Queensland University and Kelvin Grove Teacher’s College.
After three years of teaching, she moved to Bundaberg where she was transferred to Bundaberg State High School before joining St Patrick’s Covent Girls’ High School at the beginning of 1972.
“St Patrick’s was an idyllic place to work in with its 180-odd female students and more teaching nuns than lay teachers,” she said.
“Immediately, I felt at home as the sisters really took me under their protective wings where the entire school consisted of six classes: two for each of Years 8, 9 and 10.
“More importantly, for me as a devout Anglican, this new Christian environment provided me with a very firm foundation on which to grow and flourish because my work was deeply embedded in my deep inner spirituality.
“Thus, teaching became more than a profession to me.”
After a few years, St Patrick’s turned into Loyola College and in 1985, Jenny moved to Shalom College.
“Personally, this was a huge challenge because Shalom College had been established in 1984 as a Christian Brothers’ College with classes of boys from Years 8 to 12 and a smattering of girls in Years 11 and 12,” she said.
“So, the Loyola staff and students moved into an expanding, established school and it was like starting again on the bottom rung of the ladder.”
Mrs Wedemeyer said she had never stopped learning over the past 50 years, especially in more recent times when she had to adjust to online learning.
“Recently, the biggest challenge has been the coming of technology and online learning in the classroom,” she said.
“Dreading the discomfort of feeling incompetent, I am in the upskilling phase because I hate feeling inadequate.”
Having faced a number of challenges during her career, Mrs Wedemeyer said that these challenges have only helped to renew her passion for teaching.
“There have been two challenging, reflective phases in my years at Shalom where health issues tested my determination and resilience, although both experiences clearly renewed my passion for teaching and the deep desire to be present to my students,” she said.
“I trust that I have somehow made a difference in the lives of the children that I have taught.”
Shalom College Principal Dan McMahon congratulated Mrs Wedemeyer on her 50 year milestone.
“This is a remarkable achievement and so many Bundaberg young people have benefitted from her knowledge, commitment, and talent,” he said.
“Well done to an outstanding educator who is still going strong.”
Childers Heritage Weekend to celebrate history
An exciting weekend of activities and attractions is planned for Childers in May as part of a nation-wide celebration of regional local heritage.
The weekend, which will become known as the Childers Heritage Weekend, will celebrate the rich cultural and historical roots of the charming area during the Australian Heritage Festival.
A newly formed Childers tourism group called Experience Childers, formerly known as Stay in Childers, have been active in developing strategies to promote tourism in the local district.
Member Scott Stedman said the Childers Heritage Weekend would aim to showcase the region’s history and provide a welcome boost to the town’s economy.
“The aim of the weekend is to draw visitors into the region allowing the shared historic and cultural richness and experience to encourage economic growth and development in the local area,” Scott said.
“It is hoped that food outlets, accommodation providers, museums, businesses, tourism operators and the general community will benefit from an influx of visitors.
“All ages will be catered for, from under eight story-reading at the library to checking out all the patchwork quilts or the different cars and trucks on display for those a bit older.”
Childers Heritage Weekend features range of experiences
A number of experiences are on offer as part of the weekend with everything from museum visits to demonstrations and displays of traditional crafting.
“The range of experiences on offer include museum visits, a classic motor car display at the Childers Historical Complex, discovery walks around the town and an open-visit scheme consisting of visiting historic buildings and sites of significance,” Scott said.
“There will also be a music event featuring the iconic character, Chad Morgan at the Grand Hotel and demonstrations and displays of traditional crafting and Devonshire teas served in the old Apple Tree Creek School, now the CWA building.
“We are organising open access to all displays at the Historical Complex, the Soldiers Room, the Masonic Hall and West Street Hall, plus a tour of the Paragon Theatre and display of handmade quilts along with an orchid display in one of our beautiful churches.”
Scott said the committee was looking forward to welcoming more people to Childers, with the weekend providing a great opportunity for visitors to explore everything the historic town had on offer.
“It will be a great weekend to stay in Childers overnight so a vast array of activities and attractions can be experienced,” he said.
“A lot of buildings open this weekend are not usually open on a regular basis.”
You can find out more about Experience Childers and the Childers Heritage Weekend here.
Local chemist takes top spot for mental health support
West Bundaberg Pharmacy has been named one of Queensland’s winning stores as part of Chemists’ Own’s Help Us Help Our Local Community initiative.
The initiative aimed to support Mental Health Foundation Australia (MHFA) to promote better mental health in communities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It called on pharmacies to raise awareness of the importance of positive mental wellbeing in their communities for a chance to win a prize for their store and a $12,000 donation to MHFA.
Bundaberg West Pharmacy’s Director Brenton Veurman said being named one of the winners was a special moment.
“To be named one of the winners of this year’s initiative and support the Mental Health Foundation of Australia is particularly special considering the challenges the local communities have faced over the past two years,” Brenton said.
“West Bundaberg Pharmacy is proud to be part of the local community, so we felt the Chemists’ Own initiative was particularly relevant due to the uncertainties being faced by the whole community as a result of COVID.
“All pharmacies throughout Australia play a critical role in supporting their local community’s health and wellbeing.”
To promote the Chemists’ Own initiative West Bundaberg Pharmacy created a display highlighting how the pharmacy was partnering with Chemists’ Own to support the Mental Health Foundation of Australia.
As part of the partnership, the annual Chemists’ Own Help Us Help Our Local Community initiative was dedicated to supporting MHFA and breaking the stigma around mental health at a grassroots level.
You can find out more about West Bundaberg Pharmacy here.
Cheers to 130 years for Grand Hotel Childers
The first pub to open in Childers, the Grand Hotel, is still serving patrons and is celebrating 130 years since it was built in the Childers main street in 1892.
In the early 1800s, Childers was a small town made up of just 91 people within minimal agricultural work on offer.
During the 1890s things changed and Childers became a booming sugar region, with a new railroad linking the area to Cordalba which saw the population rise to over 4000 people.
It was in this time that the need for entertainment became apparent and, according to current publican Helen Corliss, in response the Grand Hotel was built.
“In 1892, a building was moved from Horton by horse and cart to begin the construction of what we see today,” she said.
“The hotel was built based on German-born architect Anton Hettrich’s designs and it stood out for its elegant look and as the only brick building on the block at the time.
“Around 1897 it was bought by a new owner who got a Bundaberg architect to make it into a two-storey building, which was very grand as it was the only two-storey building in town.
“It was the only survivor on this side of the street after the Childers fire in 1902 and in 1992 it joined the heritage register becoming heritage listed.
“We were very lucky that when the fires came through, this building remained intact, with only a little bit of smoke and water damage when most of the street was completely destroyed.”
History shines through
The pub standing today still showcases many of the original features from its establishment, including the original carriageway which Helen said had many a story to tell.
“Back in the day when ladies couldn’t drink at the bar with their husbands, the carriage would pull up here and drop off the husband and wives,” she said.
“The husbands would walk in and go to the bar and the ladies would stay in the carriage way with the horses and do their needlework and talk to each other.
“Then, when they were done drinking, the carriage would take them out again.
“I think that is unique having that lovely carriageway still there.”
Helen said the pub once looked a little different but they had worked hard to ensure it maintained its heritage charm.
“It used to look a little different as it had some beautiful lacework along the veranda at the time, but I believe the story went that they must have sold it to the government during the war to make bullets or something out of it,” she said.
“We would’ve loved to still have some on the building if we could.
“The hotel has been largely kept in its original state because we think that is very important as we don’t want to destroy what made it so beautiful and unique in the first place and as it is heritage listed we couldn’t do anything to the façade.”
Helen said while the pub had only been in her family for the past 26 years, she looked forward to continuing to maintain the historic building and serve the local community members who make the pub what it is.
“Childers is such a lovely town and it has a fantastic community feel which makes it what it is and makes running this pub so special,” Helen said.
“There are some locals who have been here in the 26 years that the family have owned the pub, including Nancy who is in her 80s and still comes down every week for the raffles and a beer.
“It is people like this who make the pub the place it is, and we like to think of it is as a meeting place for people of any age, those who have just turned 18 right up to those in their 80s.
“There is nothing better than a meal and a beer at the local pub.”
A family affair
Helen said she and her husband had been handed down the pub from his parents in recent years, now taking over as the caretakers.
“We are very much looking forward to continuing to restore and maintain the pub to its former glory,” she said.
“There is a fair bit of work that comes with maintaining a 130 year old pub.
“It certainly looks a lot different now we have taken it over, we have reopened the verandas as well as sandblasting the paint off the brickwork along the front of the building.
“I am hoping that the community appreciate the way the pub looks now as it is an asset to the region.”
The Grand Hotel Childers will be celebrating their milestone birthday in May, with a performance from Chad Morgan, coinciding with the upcoming Childers Heritage Weekend on 14 – 15 May.
“To celebrate, the hotel will have Chad Morgan coming to play as he used to be one of the cane cutters back in the day,” she said.
“So, here’s to another 130 years I hope!”
You can find out more about the Grand Hotel Childers on Facebook.
Boomerang Bags a special addition to citizenship ceremony
The crafty sewers behind Boomerang Bags Bundaberg have created a special keepsake for residents celebrating their citizenship at Council ceremonies.
From next month, not only will new Australian citizens be gifted a native tree by Bundaberg Regional Council at each ceremony, the tree will come inside a handmade Boomerang Bag created from upcycled material.
Coordinator of Boomerang Bags Bundaberg Carmen McEneany said providing the special keepsake for new citizens was something she was proud to be involved in.
“I thought it would be fabulous for our citizens to get something that is made right here in Bundaberg,” she said.
“The more things we can do to make people feel welcome in our amazing community, the better.”
Carmen said Boomerang Bags was established in Bundaberg four years ago and in that time, volunteers had sewn thousands of bags from upcycled, donated material.
“These bags are made from things like old sheets, pillowcases or even material that might have been in the back of your cupboard for 10 years!” she said.
“Anything we get, we appreciate.”
Carmen said there were plenty of benefits to owning a bag, including their large size and ability to be used for a range of different things.
“Shopping, a library bag, swimming bag – there are so many uses for these bags,” she said.
“There is also the benefit of recycling.
“We are not using plastic and instead are using material that might have ended up in landfill.”
Bundaberg Region Mayor Jack Dempsey congratulated the Bundaberg Boomerang Bags team on their efforts.
“Boomerang Bags are doing it again – supporting the environment, supporting the community and now supporting our great new citizens,” he said.
“These hardworking volunteers do a fantastic job and Bundaberg Regional Council is more than happy to support this great initiative.”
Want to become a Boomerang Bags volunteer?
Carmen said Boomerang Bags Bundaberg was always on the hunt for more volunteers.
“Even if people can sew at home, we would love them to get in touch with us,” she said.
“You don’t need to be a professional sewer to join, just basic knowledge on the sewing machine is enough.
“We also have a couple of big sewing bees during the year.”
Find out more about Boomerang Bags Bundaberg via the Facebook page here.
Bundaberg RFDS takes to the skies for 20 years
The Royal Flying Doctors Service has celebrated 20 years of serving the Bundaberg community, offering medical assistance via air to thousands of patients each and every year.
Before the service started locally in 2002, residents and visitors to the Bundaberg Region who were required to travel for specialist care were relying on aircrafts dispatched from Brisbane and Rockhampton.
It was two decades ago that RFDS bridged that gap in establishing a base in Bundaberg to provide immediate care for residents.
The local base has progressed to become a very busy service and primarily transports people from Bundaberg and the Wide Bay region to Brisbane to receive medical assistance.
Since establishing itself in the region, the RFDS has formed a strong alliance with RACQ LifeFlight Rescue, a partnership that began in 2011 to improve the health of the community.
Together the organisations transport around 3500 patients a year.
Reliance on the RFDS has continued to grow in the region.
In 2011, the Bundaberg base completed 2747 landings, when compared to the last year where the number rose to 3091.
What began as a team of four pilots and four flight nurses has since grown to six pilots, nine flight nurses and three admin staff.
Bundaberg Base Support Manager Jennifer Bruce said while she had only been part of the local team for just under a year, she still felt a deep sense of pride to be part of the 20-year milestone that coincided with the organisation's centenary.
“It’s a momentous milestone, twenty years for Bundaberg Base and RFDS nearing its 100 year anniversary,” Jennifer said.
“It demonstrates how we are truly entwined in the fabric of the local community providing an important service to so many community members in their time of need.
“We make a difference in the lives of so many and so many make a difference in enabling us to provide the life support service we provide.
“I look forward to celebrating the dual milestone celebration of RFDS Bundaberg Base supporting the community and the community supporting RFDS.”
Serving the community
More than just a medical service, the RFDS has been there for the community in times of need over the past 20 years, turning their hangar into a makeshift ward in 2013 when floods devastated the region.
Since then, the hangar has moved to what is now known as the Bundaberg Aeromedical Base, which allows both the RFDS and LifeFlight to deliver an even greater level of care through their Patient Transfer Facility.
This new area accommodates patients while they wait to move on to or off an aircraft.
RFDS Bundaberg Manager of Clinical and Base Operations Robyn Langton said it allowed the hundreds of patients who had already transferred through the facility to do so in more comfort than previously available.
“A real benefit of the new base is the Patient Transfer Facility, which allows us to care for patients in a comfortable, clinical environment inside the base while they wait for ongoing transfer,” Ms Langton said.
“Previously, patients often had to wait on a stretcher on the tarmac or inside the aircraft.”
Over the years, the Beechcraft planes have continued to be the aircraft of choice for the RFDS, with the Beechcraft Super King Air 200 (B200) planes in use when the RFDS first started.
The Beechcraft King Air 360CHW turboprop aircraft (B360) then took over in 2021.
The future of RFDS Bundaberg
Looking to the future the team is excited to see the building of their new flight simulator which will train their pilots and aircrew to be proficient in the Beechcraft King Air 360s.
The new flight simulator, to be located in Bundaberg, will also be the first of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.
The RFDS look forward to continuing to work within the Bundaberg Region, seeing continued investment into providing local opportunities and keeping the local community safe.
You can find out more about the RFDS Bundaberg Base and the work they do here.
Door opened on secret men's business
The local Freemasons have not only opened the doors to their Masonic Hall, but also shared some of their secrets, rituals and history.
Freemasons member Ian Clarke said while the group is no longer as shrouded in mystery as it once was, people will have to visit themselves to learn more.
“It's not a secret society, it is society with with secrets,” he said.
The building, at 61 Bourbong Street Bundaberg, has an unassuming façade, giving no hint to the rare Masonic Dome and pressed steel ceiling contained within.
“It's to represent the sky. So, the moon, the stars and the sky. And that all forms part of our ritual work.
“It's just really a wow factor, because from outside you don't expect to see a building like this with the architecture and all the columns.
“Everything in Freemasonry is done on the square and the level, so of course, compasses and squares and plumb rules all form a very important, important part of our ritual work,” Ian said.
In this podcast episode, Ian takes us on an audio tour of the building, which contains the meeting room for the Order of the Eastern Star, as well as a supper room added to the building in the late 1970s.
Listen now to hear more about the Freemasons and the Masonic Hall:
Subscribe to the podcast here.
In Our Garage: Rick Lang's 1973 HQ Monaro
In 1973 Rick Lang purchased a new Holden HQ Monaro and nearly 50 years later he is still behind the wheel of the same vehicle.
Rick shares with us his passion and the history of this iconic car.
Q. Tell us about your Holden HQ Monaro
I purchased this Holden HQ 4 door Monaro GTS in Bundaberg in 1973 from what was then known as AL Stewarts Holden.
That was just after they had built the new dealership out near the cemetery, which is now Ross Gray.
It's got extractors, 350 holley carby, which pretty much everyone does, but it's never been restored, just well-maintained.
This one has a 253, which is a very economical motor for a V8 with the 3-speed.
I've since changed it over in the last five years to put a 5-speed Toyota gearbox in it, which is better for cruising on the highway.
It's kind of typical Holden V8 sound but it's not a noisy car as it does run the dual system.
I don't have any exceptionally loud mufflers on it because as I get older, I tend to like the quieter cars.
The car was built in Brisbane at Acacia Ridge, so it's always lived in Queensland and it’s probably never going to leave Queensland as far as I'm concerned.
Q. Why did you purchase the HQ Monaro?
When I bought it, it was obviously not an old vehicle.
I just fell in love with the colour and have always loved owning it.
The colour is called orchid which is a difficult colour to describe, and people call it pink, but it's nothing like pink.
General Motors did bring out a pink car called Strike Me Pink and when you see the two together, they're nothing like each other.
I was an apprentice on around $20 a week and the car was on hire-purchase at about $100 a month, so paying it off was a bit of a struggle.
It's probably the best thing I ever did because it served us as a family car and we've raised our three girls, driving them to school in it.
The kids, of course, hated going to school in it because it was an old car, but now they realise the error of their ways and they wish they could get to ride it again!
I did get to a stage where I decided we would like to upgrade to get something with air-conditioning and automatic but with a young family, we couldn't afford both.
It was sad to see it go when I sold it, but eventually the opportunity came up to buy it back and it was quite exciting, almost like I was buying it new again.
Q. What do you love about old cars?
A. Keeping old cars restored and running on the road is a part of Australian heritage, it's what we do as Australians.
It's a good thing for younger generations to see these cars on the road.
It always got a lot of attention back in the day and still does because of its age now.
I like taking it to car shows or just showing the car because I love talking to people about cars, I find that part of it very interesting.
You must have that love for them and want to have to tinker with them, because they need to be tinkered with regularly.
Local cricket fans rub shoulders with Bulls Masters
There was nothing that could wipe the smile from James Spokes’ face when he met and interviewed some of Australia’s biggest cricket stars on Saturday.
It was a dream come true for the Bundaberg cricket fan, who caught up with Darren Lehmann and other Australian greats during their Bulls Masters Tour last week.
The team were in town to promote cricket and play in the Bundaberg Invitational XI, and while the game didn't finish due to rain, there was plenty of opportunity for fans to catch up with their idols.
Disability support service TotalCare was part of the action, with carer James Bulbert accompanying his client James Spokes to a meet and greet.
“James just loves his cricket and football,” Mr Bulbert said.
“He wasn’t aware we had organised the opportunity for him to meet and interview some of the players.
“I really have to commend the Bulls – they give a lot of time and effort to make sure they connect with the community.
“James loved interviewing Darren – it was such a surprise and shock for him!
“It was an amazing night, incredible and definitely a highlight for James.”
Brian would have given up spot on the bench for James
Mr Bulbert said the Bulls Masters meet and greet was made possible with the help of John Spencer from Habilitation Support Services, whose client Brian Zeller was quite familiar with rubbing shoulders with the Bulls Masters team.
“Each year for the last four years Brian has met up with the Bulls Masters when they come to Bundaberg,” John said.
“Brian loves his cricket, and he is one of the blind cricket participants here in the region.
John said as planning was underway there was a moment when the disability service providers thought only one client would be able to go out on the pitch and meet with the team.
“Brian was going to give up his spot on the bench for James,” John said.
“That’s a pretty big thing, as he looks forward to this every single year, but it turned out both were able to meet them and get lots of photos and memories too.”