Weekender: Deems share secret to lifelong love

Region’s Tonga Appeal to have long-lasting impact

Megan Dean

The Bundaberg Region Tonga Appeal raised almost $40,000, helping with immediate relief and recovery and paving the wy for a project to increase future resilience.

The appeal came to a close earlier this month but not before generous donors helped to raise $38,706.55.

Local teacher and former NRL star Antonio Kaufusi, who was behind the appeal’s launch, said the funds had helped to boost morale, ease burdens and provide basic supplies.

But they’ll also have a long-lasting positive impact on the community.

“I know Api Fo'ou Catholic College is putting the funds towards their solar panel project to be able to power the school and be self-sufficient in times when the power gets shut off, so the school will be able to remain open and running,” Antonio said.

“The contributions to the village where every family, which was about 130 plus, received $100 each … will help with food, high electricity bills etc.

“Money was also spent on building materials to help with families that had damage to their homes from the volcano eruption.”

He said his family had been humbled by the region’s support.

“My parents moved us here to Bundaberg back in 1998 and since then Bundaberg has been our home,” Antonio said.

“I already know how much the people here support each other, especially those that need the help, as I have experienced that firsthand through sporting groups, church groups, schools and various other groups like the Rotary Club.

 “We as a family are very grateful for the love and support of everyone in Bundaberg.

 “Words can't express our gratitude from what the Bundaberg community has shown us with this appeal.”

 The Kaufusi family has been inundated with messages of thanks from the villagers as well as family throughout the world.

 The Tonga Appeal was made possible through the support of Bundaberg Regional Council, which donated $10,000, and Shalom College which administered the trust and donated $2000.

 Acting Mayor Bill Trevor said, in true Bundaberg Region style, the outcome had exceeded everyone’s expectations.

 “The generosity of our community never ceases to amaze me,” Acting Mayor Trevor said.

“I’m thrilled to hear that not only have these funds assisted with the community’s immediate needs but will also provide ongoing support and resilience to the community through the school’s solar panel project.

 "Reliable access to power will be invaluable to the school in future outages and the solar power will reduce the operational costs for years to come.”

Shalom principal Dan McMahon said he was pleased with the fundraising efforts.

“I expect that this will make a big difference to families who were devastated by natural disaster,” Mr McMahon said.

“Shalom was very pleased to be able to assist in this effort and it is an expression of our support for Tongan families who have contributed so positively to Bundaberg and the Shalom community.”

Star Wars a career highlight for Warren the puppeteer

Emma Turnbull

When you’re next watching Star Wars – Episode Two: Attack of The Clones keep an eye out for Quarren, played by Bundaberg school teacher Warren Duxbury.

Through a thrilling career as a puppeteer, Warren has worked with George Lucas on Star Wars.

But that's not his only claim to fame, having also rebuilt Australia’s favourite puppet Agro and working with the Henson Muppeteers.

Warren said over the years he had been part of many exciting projects and happened to be “in the right place at the right time” for his involvement in Star Wars.

“I was working at Foxtel when the call came in asking for all the puppeteers to be sent over – well I was the only one there,” Warren said.

“I was under the impression I was going to the set of Moulin Rouge, but to my surprise it was actually for Star Wars!

“Ewan McGregor was the lead for both, so the sets were set up near each.”

Warren steps into various roles on Star Wars set

Warren said originally, he was tasked as only a puppeteer on the set of Star Wars, but when the cast fell short he was asked to step into character and he played both Ketwol and Quarren.

“I played the Quarren Senator's Aide and can be clearly seen clapping after the Supreme Chancellor is given Emergency Powers in the Senate,” he said.

“I actually then got the nickname Warren the Quarren – ha!”

Warren said he was given the role as one of the background directors for Star Wars – Episode Two: Attack of The Clones.

“I was put in charge of various creatures, as were others in the department. I had to give them background direction whilst George Lucas was directing his actors,” he said.

“It was a very surreal feeling to be telling a person in costume what actions they should be doing, while George is only a metre away saying, ‘Now Ewan… I need you to jump from this yellow speeder and run through the crowd in that direction’.

Stars Wars a highlight in long puppeteer career

Warren said working on the Star Wars set had been a major highlight in his career which had come about after many years of dabbling in the art of puppetry.

He said it was serendipitous to end up in situations that entertainment buffs would be envious of.

It all started for Warren in the mid-1990s when he travelled to London to help master his skills working with Henson Muppeteers at Nickelodeon.

“I was a camera operator and on set there was always two puppets along with the human host,” Warren said.

“One day, one of the puppeteers got caught up in the London underground strike and was stuck on the tube for half the day.

“With my puppet experience I had learned how to mimic the voice and movements, so when he couldn’t turn up for the show, I stepped in. I did it all and the guys upstairs didn’t even know.

“I’ve been pretty lucky to stumble into these situations by being at the right place at the right time!”

Nowadays, Warren has switched up most of his puppeteer work to enjoy a simpler life in the local region as a teacher at Bundaberg State High School.

“Star Wars is definitely a highlight for me, and I got to the stage when I didn’t know how I would top that in my career, so I went on to study film and media and became a teacher,” he said.

“There’s no better place than Bargara.

“I love teaching, a lot of my students go off and work the industry and that makes it easy to love doing what I do.”

Warren still lends a hand to help Agro

Although Warren may now seem far, far away from the studio sets in Sydney, he is never out of reach to help his good friend Jamie Dunn and the loveable “bathmat” Agro.

In 2001 Channel Seven Productions enlisted Warren’s puppeteer and puppet builder skills to rebuild Agro, because the original puppet had deteriorated beyond repair.

“I was asked to refurbish Agro by the producer, and the moment she pulled him out of the bag I could see he was really starting to disintegrate,” Warren said.

“He was already about 20 years old and had lived a life of dog mauling to having yoghurt tipped over him – he was battered.

“Because I knew the Hensen stitch technique I was able to not only repair him but make a replicate – which actually lives with me at my home, ready for Jamie to swap over in short notice or when they are here visiting.”

Don’t travel far, far away to celebrate Star Wars Day

Emma Turnbull

Warren will take his passion for Star Wars to the community when the region celebrates annual Star Wars Day at Bargara.

Each year May the 4th is the informal commemorative Star Wars Day to celebrate the franchise.

This year the local event will take place on Saturday 7 May and be held at the Bargara Cultural Centre, Bargara.

Warren Duxbury is putting his expertise forward as organiser of Skyforce Queensland’s Star Walking Inc. Wide Bay Star Wars Day.

He said the Bundaberg Region was home to some of the most devoted Star Wars fans and it was fantastic to know they were able to be involved in events like those held in larger cities.

“We previously held a Star Wars weekend at Hinkler Central and the promo team there said that it was the most people that the centre has ever had on site at the one time,” he said.

“So, it’s clear that Bundy has a huge number of fans.”

He said SkyForce Queensland was part of Star Walking Inc, which is the longest running Star Wars fan club in the world.

“The family fun event, which includes trivia and cosplay competitions, prop and costume displays, an auction, merch vendors and heaps more,” Warren said.

Star Walking Inc, based in Melbourne, are the longest running Star Wars fan club in the world and they want to bring some family fun to Bargara.

“The events have been held on The Sunshine Coast and Brisbane in the past, but this is the first of many planned future events for regional centres.”

Warren said there would be an opportunity to learn more about the pop culture and all things Star Wars at the event.

“People can join the club on the day but it’s not about recruitment, it’s about bringing this sort of fan event to regional areas that usually miss out on these types of pop culture experiences,” he said.

“We have some costumed characters appearing on the day for photo ops along with a special video message from a Star Wars actor based in the United States.

“The day’s schedule has been designed to include Star Wars fans of all ages and is very family focused.”

Star Wars Day will be held from 10 am on Saturday 7 May at Bargara Cultural Centre on Hughes Road Bargara.

Tickets are available now from Trybooking.com and can also be purchased at the door.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for Star Walking Inc. members and kids under 12. Due to limited capacity, online purchases are recommended.

Local the focus at Blessed Café in Moore Park

Ashley Schipper

Using local produce and product in every which way we she can is a main focus for Jennifer Mutich at her new café in Moore Park Beach.

The first-time business owner has just opened Blessed Café at 63 Sylvan Drive and said she was committed to supporting other Bundaberg Region businesses as much as possible.

“I have incorporated a lot of other local businesses within my business,” she said.

“I am trying to get as much local product in store, like local honey, cheese and more.

“We also have plenty of different products and items on display, all made locally, so people can come eat and shop at the same time.

“We try to keep it all as local as possible. I think we all need to support each other, that's the bottom line!”

A former nurse, Jennifer said she had never owned her own business before but was excited to see what the change in career had in store.

She said after seeing the empty space on her routine drives around the beachside suburb, she knew she could make something of the building on Sylvan Drive.

“I live out here at Moore Park Beach and I kept driving past the building and saw it was empty, so I decided to open my own café,” she said.

“I was a nurse prior to this and I was looking for a lifestyle change, and with everything else going on at the moment it seemed like a great thing to do.

“I don't have a background in the industry but my mum was a chef, which has helped, she has given me guidance.”

Jennifer said Blessed Café had hired four employees and was already enjoying plenty of support from locals and visitors alike.

“We have been open for one week and we are seeing plenty of new faces,” she said.

“We cater for breakfast and lunch seven days a week.

“So far, the most popular dish has been the eggs benedict, you just can't go past the sauce!”

Blessed Café is open every day from 6.30 am to 3 pm at 63 Sylvan Drive.

Follow the Facebook page here.

Heritage Car, Truck, Bike and Machinery Show returns

Emma Turnbull

More than 400 vehicles are expected to be on show at Bundaberg Vintage Vehicle Club’s Heritage Car, Truck, Bike and Machinery Show.

The Bundaberg Region’s love for vehicles continues to exceed expectations, with thousands of car buffs expected to head to Bundaberg Recreational Precinct next month.

The annual show event has been running for half a decade, with Bundaberg Vintage Vehicle Club’s Ian Jefferyes saying each year it continued to grow more in popularity.

“We had about 100 cars the first year, then 200 the second and 320 last year, so we are expected more than 400 this year,” Ian said.

“There will be 14 categories with trophies and prizes for each.

“It’s $2 a head and the proceeds will be going to local charity Rotary House and Bundaberg Health Services Foundation.

“Last year we made about $4000 and this year we are hoping to beat that as part of our contribution to the community.”

Vehicles welcome at Heritage Car, Truck, Bike and Machinery Show

Car enthusiasts can show off their pride and joy, by turning up to the University Drive entry early on the day.

Bundaberg Vintage Vehicle Club’s Kev Linderberg said the show was open to all passionate vehicle owners to display their vehicle.

“Anyone wanting to participate can just roll up on the day, there’s no nomination fee,” Kev said.

“If they have an old motorbike, tractor or anything really, they are welcome to come along and show it.”

Heritage Car, Truck, Bike and Machinery Show will be held at Bundaberg Recreational Precinct from 9 am to 2 pm on Saturday 14 May.

For trade stand information phone Gary on 0488 030 245, or for general information about the Heritage Car, Truck, Bike and Machinery Show head to the Facebook page.

What's on

Lake Ellen a place of fun for Steindl family

Ashley Schipper

One of the Steindl family's favourite places to visit on a weekend is Lake Ellen Heritage Hub Park and Playground, a spot they say allows their children to enjoy a range of activities.

The family has captured their enjoyment at the popular spot for a recent Bundaberg Regional Council photo competition as part of the consultation process for the development of a concept plan to guide the future development of the area.

Mum Rhianna said she submitted a photo of her children enjoying their breakfast at the park from a recent visit and was thrilled to find out she had won first prize.

“We go to Lake Ellen a fair bit but this was the first time we have taken breakfast with us and it was wonderful,” she said.

“Even in its current form Lake Ellen Heritage Hub Park and Playground is a good facility for families, with great open spaces, a playground and a bit of everything and it beats having the kids sit in front of the TV!”

Rhianna said the moment caught on camera was similar to many that her family had enjoyed over the years at Lake Ellen Heritage Hub Park and Playground.

“One of my recent favourite family memories from this park is getting up early on a Sunday morning and riding our bikes to the playground where we then cooked up a barbecue breakfast,” she said.

“The kids then proceeded to serve me numerous ‘drinks' consisting of woodchips from the Sugar Country General Store.

“The currency – leaves they found on the ground around the structure.”

As part of her competition prize, Rhianna won a family pass to Hinkler Hall of Aviation and a double pass to a show at the Moncrieff Entertainment Centre during its current season.

She said it would be something they would all be able to enjoy.

“We will definitely be taking the kids to the Hinkler Hall of Aviation and my husband and I will put the Moncrieff tickets to good use,” she said.

Lake Ellen Heritage Hub Park and Playground competition highlights popular area

Opportunities for the revitalisation of Lake Ellen Heritage Hub Park and Playground are currently being considered.

Bundaberg Regional Council identified the popular recreational spot for future upgrade and development as part of the Parks and Open Space Strategy 2019-2026.

Community feedback via a survey and consultation was sought to assist Council in developing a design plan to further enhance the area.

As part of the consultation, a photo competition was launched to celebrate the current space and preserve its history.

Parks and Gardens portfolio spokesperson Cr Wayne Honor congratulated the Steindl family on their win.

“What a fantastic photo of three local children clearly enjoying some delicious breakfast at one of their favourite places!” he said.

“It is lovely to see local families getting out and about enjoying Council facilities and spending time in the great outdoors.

“The Lake Ellen Heritage Hub Park and Playground upgrade is sure to enhance the area even further, providing and even more amazing space for the community to visit.”

You can find out more about the progress of the plans here.

Faye releases memoir Dancing with Shadows

Emma Turnbull

Bargara resident Faye Perry has penned a collection of heart-warming stories in her first memoir Dancing with Shadows.

Dancing with Shadows shares stories of adventure and travel, relationships and joy, pain and triumph of 20 individuals.

Faye said the memoirs would leave the reader entertained, moved and inspired, featuring stories of local identities, including Felise Kaufusi and Suellen Cusack-Greensill, along with other inspirational individuals from around Australia.

“Written with tenderness and warmth, Dancing with Shadows is a melting pot of intimate and inspiring personal narratives of 20 diverse people,” Faye said.

“Reading the stories is like looking through a window into their lives, hearts and characters, to reveal their experiences of life lived.”

Faye's interest in people sparks Dancing with Shadows

With a career as a clinical psychotherapist, Faye has always been interested in people’s stories and after retiring writing them came with ease.

“In writing the stories, I felt like Anh Do, drawing people out through my interviews, and painting their story with words,” she said.

“The stories have become like my adopted children – I love them all and through them have vicariously sampled their lives. I learned something from every story.”

Faye said for Dancing with Shadows she chose people who had an interesting story, or they had overcome difficulties through their life.

Inspired to start writing after a visit from a friend, Faye said she wanted a mix of life experiences and locations.

“I was a clinical psychotherapist and therefore have a good understanding of human nature,” she said.

“I am formerly from the Adelaide Hills, and now enjoy the sunny beach environment of Bargara. I have always had an interest in writing stories.

“I left work in 2020, just as Covid hit.

“A friend who had been adopted visited after her adoptive mother died. She told me her story, which was a story of difficulty, growth and transformation.

“That afternoon, my husband and I were on the tilt train to Cairns. Due to Covid restrictions, we had to sit on opposite sides of the carriage.

“During those hours of travel, I penned my friend’s story. Even though I didn’t use that narrative in the book, it started me on the journey of writing Dancing with Shadows.”

The official launch of Dancing with Shadows will take place at The Beach Mill, 2 Fred Courtice Avenue at Nielson Park, Bargara, on Saturday 7 May at 8.30 am.

Dancing with Shadows is also available on Amazon, or by emailing Faye at fayeperry@ozemail.com.au to purchase a copy.

Podcast: Cemeteries a window to the past

Adele Bennett

Cemeteries provide a unique window into the history of a place and its people, evoking emotion and reflection.

While there are often legends surrounding the location and sometimes the deceased, the truth can be far more fascinating than fiction.

As a member of Friends of South Isis Cemetery Doreen Cole has dedicated her time and effort to ensuring the stories of this historic cemetery are not forgotten.

“I used to come down here as a small child to visit my grandfather’s grave,” Doreen said.

“There are babies buried at the back of the cemetery and Cole babies and other names I have forgotten.

“Lots and lots of babies died in those early days, there was nothing you could do about it, you just buried them.”

Our local cemeteries have a diverse history, including the Bundaberg General cemetery’s relocation from the CBD which Council's regional supervisor of cemeteries Nick Burfield said resulted in the loss of six years of cemetery records from 1873.

“Where it was (originally) located there were a few different churches on all the corners, where the deceased were transferred with horse and cart back in the day, it was just a lot easier,” Nick said.

“The only thing we have opposed to the other ones is we have a section especially set aside for the war graves for the Office of Australian War Graves.

“So we have that and a special section in the general area for the return services.

“I just think the respect we show the service personnel here is perfect.”

Listen now to hear more about the Hinkler House relocation:

Book review

In Our Garage: Max Scholefield’s 1954 Australian Mainline Ute

Paul Donaldson

Making his living on the land Max Scholefield always dreamed of owning a Mainline ute and after years of hard work it’s now become a reality.

Q. Tell us about your car:

A. This is a 1954 Ford Australian manufactured V8 utility.

It is the very last of the side valve V8 engines made by Henry Ford from 1932 to 1954.

It was very, very sought after by farmers and people that did rural pursuits in those years.

If you wanted a heavy-duty workhorse then this was the thing that you bought.

They were well made for their day.

One bloke had two Mainline Utes and had little crates in the back and put his calves in there, so all the back was knocked around with calves’ hooves.

They were beautifully appointed inside, which was unusual in a work vehicle, and they drove along the road very nicely, so people really loved them for that reason.

Q. Tell us about the car’s history:

A. This particular car was owned by a Jim Murphy, I think, in western New South Wales.

He became ill and they parked the car in a shed with the back sticking out and it remained there for about 35 years.

One of the local scrap merchants said, ‘look, I can take that thing off your hands for $20’ and he then advertised it for $2000.

I needed a project and he said it was a good straight car, so down I went with a trailer and picked it up.

Q. What condition was the car in when you got it?

A. It didn't have a skerrick of paint left on it, you could see that it was green, every part was there, but the rust had formed a film all over the car.

There was a lot of green mould or something growing over the top of the car, which had to be removed, but the car was pretty sound.

It took an awful lot of rubbing down and scrubbing down and I had a sandblaster come in and he sandblasted the car.

We primed it using one of the newer model two pack type primers, and we put the car in an open shed and it sat there for probably 10 years in the prime stage.

I'd say, ‘I'm going to do it up one day’.

The one day came and I pulled it down into a little tin shed and started work on it.

For three years, I scrubbed and bashed and pushed and painted it.

But in that period, the engine had locked up, and it is the original side valve motor.

It has been done up by Dolby engine reconditioning and me, but it runs absolutely perfectly.

It's quite a big motor and they did overheat a bit, but a lot of people got away from that by putting bigger bladed fans on and things like that.

Q. What do you love about the car and what made you want to buy it?

A. I think the reason I would have bought this is because being a farmer all my life, I've known many farmers that have owned these.

All the big boys had these things, and I really wanted one.

Eventually, late in life, I was able to find one and get it on the road, so I was up there with the big boys.

I think it's the joy of actually getting out on the road and seeing people respond, that is absolutely magic.

Everyone smiles, everyone waves.

It's just a marvellous thing to go on the road in a restored veteran, vintage or classic car.

Another really good thing about driving a classic, vintage, veteran car is the fact that there's a lot of camaraderie between people in clubs.

It's really great to be with people that know what you're talking about.

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Rugby league legends to touch down in Bundaberg

Georgia Neville

The upcoming Queensland Rugby League Regional Roadshow will see local junior rugby league stars mix with Queensland legends Sam Thaiday and Meg Ward to improve their football skills.

Visiting Bundaberg on Tuesday 3 May, there will be both a football clinic for juniors, as well as a fundraising dinner for Bundaberg Rugby League.

Queensland Rugby League Wide Bay Area Manager Bryce Holdsworth said the roadshow was a great opportunity for players in regional towns to learn new skills and meet origin greats.

“These roadshow’s provide young players the opportunity to meet current and former Queensland origin players, while also giving them the chance to learn new skills and have some fun,” Bryce said.

“At the clinic, juniors will be able to get photos and autographs while enjoying a free clinic hosted by the NRL Game Development team and the Bundaberg Junior Rugby League.”

The QRL encourages anyone to attend the clinic, with no prior football experience required.

“Any child between the ages of six to 12 years old, both male and female, are encouraged to register to attend the clinic,” he said.

“They do not need to be registered with a club but this is a great opportunity for them to learn some skills, play some small sided non – contact games and see if they would like to give rugby league a go and sign up for one of the local clubs for the upcoming season.”

The roadshow concludes with a fundraising dinner held at Brothers Sports Club, with funds raised going back into Bundaberg Rugby League.

Tickets for the event are $125 each, which includes a two course meal and some drinks.

“The dinner is being held at Brothers Sports Club and kicks off at 6.30 pm with all funds raised through the live auction on the night going back to Bundaberg Rugby League,” he said.

“It would be great to see the Bundaberg community get behind and support this event, as we have a great sporting community and it is always a privilege for the area to get these kinds of events.”

Bundaberg Rugby League Chairman Mike Ireland said the roadshow featuring ruby league legends would provide much needed support for the Bundaberg Rugby League.

“The upcoming roadshow is very important to Bundaberg and both Bundaberg Rugby League seniors and juniors,” Mike said.

“The leagues are like all sporting organisations, we rely on sponsorships as well as fundraising events like this to help with the enormous cost of running our game.

“Although we do have a lot of volunteers through both groups, operation costs are always on the up and any funds donated are much appreciated.

“To have Queensland players give up there time to help out with the up and coming kids, both male and female, can only help to encourage more to take up our sport.”

There will be plenty of great stories told on the night, and guests will have the opportunity to bid for some outstanding sporting memorabilia.

QRL Chief Executive Officer Rohan Sawyer said it was a terrific opportunity for the community to rub shoulders with two rugby league icons.

“Both Sam and Meg have mixed it with the very best of them on the rugby league field,” Mr Sawyer said.

“It really is shaping up to be a terrific evening, and one that will raise some important funds for community rugby league.”

Mr Sawyer also thanked Auswide Bank for their support of the initiative.

“Our regional and outback communities form part of the fabric of rugby league here in
Queensland,” Sawyer said.

“We’re extremely fortunate to have a major partner like Auswide Bank who also have a strong and meaningful connection to communities in regional Queensland.”

You can purchase tickets for the event here.