Weekender: Deems share secret to lifelong love

Aquatic centre to benefit Bundaberg Special School

Ashley Schipper

The Bundaberg Special School has thrown its support behind the new Bundaberg Regional Aquatic Centre which, once constructed, will be available for students to participate in swimming lessons through the use of accessible equipment. 

The development is set to commence construction later this year with the overall project to feature a 50 metre, heated, undercover competition pool, a 25-metre heated indoor pool, an indoor program pool, a café and spectator area.

It will also include a range of equipment such as lifts, hoists, ramps and an adult accessible changeroom, with the design heavily focused on providing a facility for all abilities.  

Teacher Brooke Taylor said consultation with Bundaberg Regional Council had given the school an opportunity to discuss the needs and wants of their students when it came to accessing the new pool facility.

“Council came to observe the hoisting procedures of our wheelchair students entering and exiting the pool and we discussed how difficult it is for our students and staff having limited access to pools with wheelchair access.”

She said many of the Bundaberg Special School students loved aquatic activities but greater accessibility was needed.

“With the physical needs of a number of our students, swimming mitigates so much of the pain and strain on their muscles and bodies in general and allows them to experience the freedom of being in the water and feel comfortable.”

Brooke said the new aquatic facility would benefit students on a number of different levels.

“Swimming improves overall general health, it improves heart and lung health, motor skills, coordination, muscle strength, flexibility and helps maintain a healthy weight,” she said.

“These aspects are an integral part of staying happy and healthy.

“Anything we can do to support this will give our students, and others, the opportunity to live as freely and autonomously as possible.”

Jim and Margaret Deem celebrate 65 years married

Ashley Schipper

When Jim threw a bottle cap into Margaret's soft drink at a 16th birthday party, it put the wheels in motion for a love story that has blossomed over 65 years.

Wednesday 20 April 2022 will mark the Deems' blue sapphire celebration, a milestone they admitted they never thought they would reach.

“Out of our group of couple friends we were actually voted least likely to succeed!” they laughed.

It was an instant attraction between Jim and Margaret from the moment they met each other as teenagers.

“I was at my cousin's 16th birthday, which happened to be just a few weeks after my own, and Jim was there and he threw a bottle cap into my drink so that caught my attention,” Margaret said.

“It was a pretty good shot, I think,” Jim laughed.

“We began seeing each other when I turned 17 and we had to wait until we were 21 years old before we married at Christ Church in Bundaberg,” Margaret said.

While their love has remained strong over 65 years, the couple said their life together had not been without its challenges, especially during the early years.

“We did it tough. I had no money, I had no apprenticeship or skills and Margaret was earning more than I was,” Jim said.

“When we first got married we bought a house but it only had a wood stove, no fridge, no washing machine – nothing.

“That was life back then, we didn't know any different.”

Family a highlight of Jim and Margaret's love story

Soon after they were married, the couple welcomed their first child Bruce, then Susan and Paul.

They have five grandchildren and one great grandchild that they said lit up their lives.

“I think one of the main things for us is the love of our family.

“We are all so close and we keep in contact all of the time,” Jim said.

“Even our grandchildren will ring us up out of the blue about once a week.”

Reflecting on their life together, the couple said the key to their successful marriage was all about working as a team.

It's a rule they have maintained throughout their 65 years and as part of Jim's heavy involvement in Bundaberg cricket, with Margaret by his side as his biggest supporter.

“I have been involved in cricket for 60 years of my life,” he said.

“I honestly think you have got to be patient, understanding and try to be interested in their hobbies which is certainly what I did with Jim and his cricket,” Margaret added.

Special moments that last a lifetime

Offering up advice to others, the duo said it was important to savour the good moments and to remember that not everything was always simple when it came to marriage.

“Anybody that says the first few years are easy are very lucky, because it is not easy, you have to get used to one another!” Margaret said.

“It's pretty amazing how fast the years go,” Jim added.

“It felt like only yesterday we celebrated 40 years, then 50 years and now 65 years.”

As for their feelings for one another, more than six decades on from their wedding day, the couple said things were as good as ever, except for a few hearing issues.

“There are so many things I love about Jim,” Margaret said.

“What, don't you love me?” Jim exclaims after mishearing her response.

“I don't love that he has gone deaf, that is a bit of a pain!” Margaret laughed.

Jim smiles and looks over at his wife with a twinkle in his eye.

“I love her for being her, you can't get better than that!”

Locals encouraged to achieve wellbeing goals

Georgia Neville

Tammy McGregor says taking part in coordinated campaign Active and Healthy last year was one of the best decisions she has ever made to kickstart a healthier lifestyle.

The Active and Healthy program falls under the umbrella of the Do Your Thing initiative which was officially launched this month.

Do Your Thing aims to encourage community members to take control of their wellbeing in their own way.

Tammy was in the first cohort of the Active and Healthy program, which took place at the end of last year.

She said it taught her a number of key skills and strategies to improve her health and wellbeing.

“I have been involved in an active and healthy program and I was in cohort one which ran at the end of 2021,” Tammy said.

“As part of the program, we had three areas we were trying to improve which included physical fitness, nutrition and wellbeing.

“It was awesome because it was the perfect balance of all three for me and I managed to improve in all three areas and am still working to continue to improve at the moment.”

While finding the path to health and wellbeing is different for everyone, Tammy said the program she took part in provided consultation with local businesses to find what best suited each individual’s needs.

“I think this is going to benefit the wider community because it is all about local providers, for example we did workshops and local consults, so many things that involved local businesses and providers coming together across the three areas,” she said.

Tammy said she learnt a range of skills and tactics throughout the duration of the program which she has implemented into her daily routines to continue to strive for success.

“I will definitely take the things I have learnt with me into the future and implement these into my lifestyle,” she said.

“One of the main things I learnt was about changing a habit, so if you want to change a habit you put it onto something you already do.

“So, if you clean your teeth, if you are then wanting to make sure you drink more water, then every time I clean my teeth I drink two or three glasses of water.”

Do Your Thing is a collaborative program coordinated by Bundaberg Regional Council in partnership with Health and Wellbeing Queensland (HWQld) and the Department of Tourism, Innovation and Sport in conjunction with several other peak health bodies.

It takes a holistic view of health and wellbeing that encompasses three main areas:
• Good nutrition
• Mental health
• Physical activity

Do Your Thing is a Building a Healthier Bundaberg Alliance project, which has the goal of reducing the region’s overweight and obesity rate to below the national average by 2030.

You can find out more about the programs that are involved in the initiative here.

Angels spread wings in new support centre

Emma Turnbull

Angels Community Group has spread its wings with a larger support centre on Targo Street to provide the community with a range of new services.

The new bigger location will allow the not-for-profit organisation to continue to offer the community grocery items from Angels Mini Mart and a bite to eat from the funky new café, while the Angels team has now also pursued its dreams of opening a drop-in support centre.

Angels Community Group operations manager Jasmine Tasker said the new support centre had a free laundry and shower facility to help the community’s most needy.

Jasmine said during the current housing crisis it was more necessary than ever before to have a place the community could attend for everyday needs.

“We want to give people the chance to have an environment where they feel safe and they can have dignity,” Jasmine said.

“We found people would often sit down on the couch to watch television and they would fall asleep.

“While we have no sleeping facilities, our new centre will give them a chance to get out of the weather for a moment – have a shower, a cup of tea or coffee, and some heated food and access emergency food hampers when needed.”

The move from 45 Walla Street has proven beneficial for many reasons, including accessibility and comfort.

“We have been able to include a disability ramp, which is huge on our end,” she said.

“This not only gives everybody the opportunity to enter the centre, but it will also be an advantage for people with trolleys – young mums and dads who are juggling new babies etc – when they are shopping for their groceries with their hands full.”

Jasmine said the Angels Mini Mart was open to everybody, and she wanted to let the whole community know they were welcome.

“One of the biggest things for us is that not everyone realises they can shop at the mini mart,” she said.

“Some people feel they are taking away from others or the needy if they shop there, but it’s actually the opposite. They are supporting us.

“Our support centre is only possible because the money that comes from the community members who buy at the mini mart goes directly back to support this.

“Everyone is encouraged and welcome – I mean who doesn’t want Ben and Jerry’s for only $3!”

The doors to Angels Community Group’s new location at 66 Targo Street officially opens on Wednesday, 20 April.

Angel’s Second2None will remain at 45a Walla Street, offering affordable second-hand clothing to the community.

Family’s fighting spirit shines through as face of relay

Georgia Neville

This year’s Relay for Life will be a special one for the Challen family who have been selected as the 2022 face of relay after their daughter Maddison's brave battle with cancer.

While the challenges continue to be ongoing for the family, they have taken the opportunity to tell their story through the Bundaberg Relay for Life to make sure other families know they are not alone.

Maddison’s journey started when she was just four years old, with her mother Vanessa saying the family had to overcome many challenges in the midst of her ongoing treatment.

However, her daughter's fighting spirit has kept them going.

“Maddison was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma, which is a soft tissue cancer, when she was four and it changed our whole world,” Vanessa said.

“Everything from our family life right through to the medical practices saw us challenged and have to change our routine.

“With paediatric patients not treated locally, it meant we had to split our family up and Maddison and I headed to Brisbane, while my husband and son Andrew stayed in Bundaberg.”

Having had multiple surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation, Maddison will have ongoing health conditions that will continue for the rest of her life.

Vanessa said she hoped the involvement in Relay for Life would help other families who were experiencing their own cancer battle.

“Maddison has got a lot of long-term side effects from the chemotherapy and radiation, so we are still coping, but from where she was 12 months ago she is a much happier and stronger little girl,” she said.

“I hope our involvement with Relay for Life helps other families who have children who may be going through similar things realise that they are not alone, and the feelings they are experiencing are completely normal and it does happen to other people.”

Maddison said it was special to have her whole family involved in this year’s relay, having spent a lot of time in hospital and away from her dad and brother.

“I really like helping people and I am excited for costumes I get to see at the event and making everyone happy and helping out so other people will be better,” Maddison said.

“My family is very special, whenever I am scared my mum holds my hand and my brother cheers me up and my dad always helps me.

“Spending family time together is rare because my dad is working, and my brother is at school a lot and so it just leaves me and my mum so we don’t get to spend much time all together.”

Vanessa said while it was hard to see your children unwell, knowing that there were people supporting you and your family made it easier.

“It is such a hard time watching your children be sick, but I hope this helps others realise that you do have this strength within yourselves,” Vanessa said.

“During those times where you feel as though you can’t do it there is always someone you can reach out to or something to look back on that can give you the strength to get through it.

“It really is one foot in front of the other, don’t look too far down the track at what is going to happen in a years’ time, just keep realistic goals and see what is going to happen tomorrow.”

Maddison said while the past few years had been rough, she was looking forward to continuing to share her story so other children can also feel better.

“I am nine, turning ten this year and so it has been a bit of a rough journey since I was diagnosed but I feel so much stronger and braver now,” she said.

“I want others to know I always shut my eyes, take a deep breathe if you are afraid and all your fear will go away.

“I hate needles! So, I always shut my eyes and pretend I was asleep and hold my mum’s hand which helps me a lot.

“I have had chemo, radiation and so many surgeries but there have always been people there to help me through it.”

Relay for Life will be held on Saturday 13 August at the Bundaberg Recreational Precinct.

You can get involved by registering online here.

Family fun a feature in proposed Banksia Park upgrade

Ashley Schipper

A conceptual design for the upgrade of Banksia Park in Woodgate has been released by Bundaberg Regional Council, with the community invited to provide feedback on the proposed plans.

It's part of the next stage of a lengthy community consultation process which began in November for the popular recreational area along Mackerel Street.

“An online survey was made available to the community last year and Council has used this to gather information about what the park area should feature when upgraded,” Parks and Gardens portfolio spokesperson Cr Honor said.

“Feedback was also collated at a Conversation Day and now, a draft concept plan has been developed.”

Cr Honor said the proposed plans included a range of play equipment ensuring children of all abilities and ages would be catered for.

“Toddler, junior and senior play equipment catering to children aged from two to 12 years old have been featured in the plans,” he said.

“These include a trampoline circle, jeep rocker, play units, a spinning orb and giant tunnel, just to name a few.

“The adults have not been left out, with a designated exercise area featuring multiple pieces of equipment proposed.”

Cr Honor said the plans included plenty of facilities for families to enjoy, such as a barbecue area, picnic tables, drink bubblers, paths and more which would all be designed to complement the surroundings.

“Council is focusing on using natural tones and elements within the proposed design of the area,” he said

“Timber and stainless steel have been listed as the main materials in the design of bench seats, bollards, shelters, bin closures and more.”

Cr Honor said the aim of the upgrade was to transform Banksia Park into modern and inviting area for the whole community to enjoy.

“Banksia Park is located in a beautiful space, featuring stunning flora and fauna and situated just nearby the beach,” he said.

“We want to ensure this park is upgraded so that it reaches its full potential while providing an inviting space for locals and visitors alike.”

You can view the conceptual design plans for the Banksia Park upgrade and take part in the community survey here.

The survey will close on May 6 2022.

What's on

Helping others inspires Rachel to become paramedic

Emma Turnbull

Rachel Curnuck believes happiness comes as a result of what is given not what is received, and that’s why she’s followed her dream to become an Advance Care Paramedic.

Rachel knew the moment her life had become destined for her to pull on the teal coveralls and help save the lives of locals.

This moment was during the devastating 2013 floods when Rachel was just a teenager.

She offered to help stranded Bundaberg Queensland Ambulance Service personnel, including officer Steve (Sunny) Whitfield, stranded in Avondale for three days until floodwaters subsided.

Steve and his colleagues were looked after very well by the locals at Jo's Roadhouse during the floods.

Local school students pitched in to help the QAS team set up a triage centre for others that were isolated due to the floods.

“I wanted to become a paramedic because I love helping people even if it’s just a smile and, if possible, be a part of giving others a second chance at life,” Rachel said.

“Being able to help out the paramedics and nurses during the 2013 floods was an awesome experience.

“Initially, as a child I had the desire to become a doctor, but that soon changed and then I thought to become a paramedic.

“As most children, ‘what do you want to be when you grow up’ changes often, but this one stuck with me.

“The experience during the floods, meeting Sunny and the other paramedics, definitely had a significant part in confirming my desire to become a paramedic.”

It would be years later, when Rachel had swapped a school uniform for her paramedic uniform, when her and Steve’s paths would cross again.

Steve got a tap on the shoulder at the QAS Whyte Island Training Facility.

When he turned around he recognised Rachel who was about to head to Childers Ambulance Station to start her career with the QAS.

She has been stationed at the Childers station for eight months and, after dedicating years to study, she has recently received her advance care epaulettes.

“I feel very honoured to be a paramedic, being able to have the privilege to help people at their lowest and highest points in their lives,” she said.

“I will remain at Childers station for at least a couple of years. My OIC and colleagues have all been really supportive and willing to help out any way they can.

“I have learnt a lot working in Childers and have had the honour of working side by side with some amazing paramedics. I cannot wait to see where my career leads me.”

Rachel’s ambition to help others is also seen through her seven years of dedication to the Queensland Rural Fire Service, where she is currently serving as First Officer.

She now encourages others to work hard and follow their dreams.

“Being a paramedic is not always easy, it can be hard work, mentally, physically and sometimes emotionally, but I would never change my career for anything else,” Rachel said.

“If being a paramedic is your dream, then pursue it! My advice is to take it one step at a time and enjoy the process.

“It may get tough but if you work hard for your dreams, the end result will definitely be worth it.

“Being a young woman can be challenging in some industries but do not let that stop you living your best life and doing what you love.

“It does not matter who you are or what you have done or what kind of job you want to pursue, what matters is if you have a dream, aim for it.”

History: A rocky start to Boolboonda Tunnel

Ashley Schipper

Featuring 192 metres of rock and a large colony of bent wing bats, the heritage-listed Boolboonda Tunnel remains just as unique today as it was when it was built in the early 1800s.

As part of the two-month long Heritage Festival, we take a dive into the history of the tunnel, what it was used for and how it is utilised today.

Boolboonda Tunnel is situated near the goldmining town of Mount Perry, just a 60 minute drive from Bundaberg, and is the longest unsupported man-made tunnel in Queensland.

It was originally built as part of the railway line from North Bundaberg to Mount Perry with the aim to open up mineral and agricultural resources of the area.

According to former Gin Gin station master Alan Cheshire, the construction challenged engineers at every turn.

“The tunnel had to go through a hill,” he said.

“It was very hard, in fact, geologically there is a granite dyke that runs through the ranges and that was stone that they had to go through to make Boolboonda Tunnel.

“You have to remember in those days there was no such thing as gelignite.”

To overcome the solid rock the crew came up with a plan to use block powder explosives and steel bars.

“The contractor that was doing the Boolboonda Tunnel started from the Gin Gin side of the tunnel and he ran into the rock very fast,” Alan said.

“So the government decided to get another engineer out there.

“He went over the other side…and they met in the middle.”

The two year project to ocnstruct the tunnel was well worth the effort and serviced the Mount Perry Copper mines for nearly 80 years.

With a decline in traffic, the line was deviated in 1960 and the rail tracks removed in 1961.

The tunnel is now open to cars, pedestrians and sightseers and makes a cosy home for a colony of little bent wing bats.

Boolboonda Tunnel Heritage Festival feature

A virtual display of the Bundaberg Region's unique heritage buildings and historic places will be showcased during the Australian Heritage Festival, until 31 May.

Curiosity is the theme of the local, online event which explores the stories behind some of the region's most interesting buildings and spaces.

The Australian Heritage Festival is the country's largest community-driven heritage event, held from 1 April to 31 May.

Discover more, and watch the Boolboonda Tunnel heritage festival video here.

Book review

In our Garage: David Hargreaves 1940 BSA M20

Paul Donaldson

David Hargreaves has been working on his 1940 Birmingham Small Arms M20 since the late 80s, having now been riding it for the past 20 years.

Q. Where did the bike come from?

A. This particular model of bike was built for World War Two British Army and it was a dispatch riders’ machine, so that was the way they used to communicate by sending telegrams by motorcycle or horse.

The motorcycle was quicker, but after the war they were expendable so they were all sold off as war surplus and this particular model was bought in 1950 here in Bundaberg.

My father in law bought the bike back then and rode it as a cane cutter until 1969 when he parked it in the shed and he wouldn’t let me look at it.

I got hold of it 33 years after it had been parked up and I restored it and have now been riding it for nearly 20 years as part of the historic motorcycle club.

It goes to a lot of rally’s and is a very reliable bike with 500 CC single sided valve, grinder forks, no rear suspension and just a joy to ride and the comfort is in the springs in the seat.

Q. Tell us a bit about the bike?

A. The bikes got a reasonable sized fuel tank because they wanted to get as far as they could in the war.

It isn’t very fast; it reaches around the 55 to 60 miles per hour mark flat out and that is really pushing it.

They were built tough, with the engine itself being designed in 1929 but they had heaps of spares which is why the army pulled the contract together and used all the old bits and pieces together so they could manufacture and ship them off to the war.

At the time there were a lot of flasher models, these bikes really should be considered about a 1930 model, but they were made in 1940 onwards.

The good thing is you can get parts virtually anywhere that builds motorcycles all around the world. For example, India still has parts that are wrapped in greaseproof wrapping from the war.

Q. Tell us about operating the bike

A. To start the bike, you prime the carburettor and it’s got a manual advance and retard lever which is modern and all automatic.

But with this era to retard the spark and pull another lever which pulls the valves up and allows you to turn the engine over freely without any compression so nothing is going to fire.

When you are ready to or think you have sucked enough fuel into the engine, you let the valve lifter go and you give it one decent kick and it’ll fire up and you can give it a little bit of advance on the spark and away it’ll go.

Q. What have you done to restore the bike?

A. When I first got the bike I thought it was just going to be as simple as brushing a coat of paint on it and away I’d go, but it didn’t happen.

The engine was totally worn out, so I completely stripped the engine right down and began bearing new pistons and had to put all new gaskets, all cables.

The tyres were all perished so everything had to be fixed, and this was all back in the early 80s.

I’ve always had a keen interest in military vehicles, and just after I’d rebuilt a 1942 Willys Jeep, I always had my eye on restoring this for the sake of the family.

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