Weekender: Deems share secret to lifelong love

Bundaberg Airport passenger numbers on the incline

Ashley Schipper

Passenger numbers on flights at Bundaberg Regional Airport are taking off as travel demand reaches new heights since the industry's Covid-induced decline.

The Easter break marked the initial signs of positive change, with locals and visitors alike planning more flights on the Bundaberg to Brisbane route and back during the holiday period.

Bundaberg Regional Council airport portfolio spokesperson Cr Greg Barnes said during April there were three scheduled passenger flights a day which recorded an average rate of 70 per cent to 80 per cent capacity.

“Pre-Covid, Qantas flew more frequently but generally with smaller aircraft and these days, all flights are with 74 seater Dash-8’s rather than the smaller 50 seaters,” Cr Barnes said.

“This means there is more or less pre-Covid seat availability on the Bundaberg to Brisbane sector, which is fantastic to see.”

Cr Barnes said increasing community resilience was a factor in the growth of passenger numbers, with more and more people vaccinated and wanting to kickstart their travel plans again.

“During March and the Easter holiday period we began to experience the first signs of a post-Covid normality,” he said.

“People feel more comfortable to travel, to fly and to visit other places.

“This can only mean good things for our region and in time, we will hopefully begin to see the benefits trickle into our tourism sector.”

Cr Barnes said while many mandates had eased across the state, travellers were reminded masks were still required to be worn at all airports in Queensland and on flights.

“Unless you are exempt, you must have a face mask with you when you come to the airport and wear it in the terminal, public waiting areas, taxi rank, drop-off zone and car park.

“You also have to wear a mask on your flights from Bundaberg.”

Solita celebrates new status with birthday cake

Ashley Schipper

Alexandra Park Zoo's cotton-top tamarin Solita has just celebrated a milestone birthday, making her the oldest of her kind in Australia.

Solita turned 24 on Sunday 15 May and while that may seem a sprightly age for a human, in monkey years it puts the old girl in at great-grandma status.

The pint-sized mammal was born in America and spent much of her early life travelling back and forth to Canada before heading to Perth Zoo for a breeding program.

She was then moved to Alexandra Park Zoo alongside her daughter Turbo in 2015 as part of ongoing conservation efforts.

Animal Welfare and Life Sciences Wildlife Conservation and Science Senior Manager Amanda Embury is responsible for finding homes for all captive cotton-top tamarins in Australia and said Solita had an impressive history.

“Solita is currently the oldest living cotton-top tamarin in our region, with the next oldest being just 20 years of age,” she said.

“While there is no definitive information on these figures, the latest information suggests the world's current oldest is 26 years.”

Solita's birthday milestone significant

Reaching her 24th lap around the sun is a remarkable feat for Solita, with cotton-tops known to have an average lifespan of just 13.5 years.

With her old age comes plenty of experience, according to Amanda, who said Solita had contributed greatly to ongoing efforts in boosting cotton-top tamarin numbers.

“Solita has had 24 offspring during her life, born in 12 litters of which nine survived,” she said.

“That is a significant contribution to the regional population!”

Amanda said it was these breeding and conservation efforts that were helping to keep animals like Solita thriving.

“Cotton-top tamarins are a species that have been used extensively for medical research, with tens of thousands being exported from Colombia during the 1970s,” she said.

“Colombia opted to ban the export of cotton-top tamarins to help protect the dwindling population.

“Housing and display of cotton-top tamarins at Zoo and Aquarium Association (ZAA) zoos can help to support conservation projects like Proyecto Titi, which is working to rebuild populations in Columbia and beyond.”

Solita's birthday celebrated with fruit ‘cake'

Parks and Gardens portfolio spokesperson Cr Wayne Honor said Alexandra Park Zoo staff had planned a special cake for Solita to mark her milestone birthday.

“Solita was presented with a cake made entirely of oranges and blueberries and garnished with some protein-packed meal worms, her favourite treats!” he said.

“Our cotton-top tamarins are absolutely marvellous creatures and their inquisitive nature make them a joy to watch.

“If you are visiting the zoo in the next few days, don't forget to drop in to say a big happy birthday to Solita!”

Find out more about Alexandra Park Zoo here.

Intersection upgrades improve accessibility

Megan Dean

Upgrades to the crossing at the intersection of Maryborough and Electra Streets have made a big difference to accessibility for residents with mobility aids.

Previously the gradient of the crossing ramps did not allow for easy access for people in wheelchairs or with walkers and the traffic light crossing buttons were located too high to be comfortably reached.

Spinal Life Australia peer support volunteer Pat Allison said issues like these often meant residents requiring mobility aids would be unlikely to return.

She welcomed the upgrade which the group identified and raised with Council’s infrastructure team resulting in the positive change.

“[We] explained to them that this crossing was very hard to access the buttons because of the gradient,” Ms Allison said.

“Well, if you have a disability and you're in a chair or on a walker … if you can't reach it easily, you don't bother coming back.

“[It’s] just wonderful now. It's just so much easier.

“Even the gradient in the middle is very good.”

Intersection accessibility improved

Acting Mayor and Roads and Drainage portfolio spokesperson Cr Bill Trevor said improving accessibility right across the region was a priority for Council.

“We met a number of residents here that brought to our attention some time ago the problems they are having with accessing across the street with the different heights and levels,” Acting Mayor Trevor said.

“Our teams have been able to come up with some options to make it better for people in wheelchairs or mobilised scooters or just with a disability to be able to cross this busy intersection.

“We're surrounded here by shopping centres, fruit and vege marts, those sort of things where people come to do their everyday shopping and because there's one on one corner and one on the other, sometimes it's not always practical to pack the chair up and put it back in the car.

“What we've done is change the levels of the access, so it's a lot less steep in some of the gradients, we've been able to lower the push button that allows you to reach out to push the button to get the traffic to stop, to allow you to cross.

“This work made it easier and safer to access at this very busy intersection and we're delighted with the fact they've brought it to our attention and we've been able to work with them to bring it to fruition.”

He said the intersection accessibility upgrade was a great example of Council working hand in hand with the community to resolve concerns.

“And I would say to other members of the community out there, if you're seeing these things in your every day, let us know about it. We mightn't be able to fix it tomorrow, but we can try to get it on a program.

“What we're trying to do is make life better for those people that reside in these areas, making it safer for them out there and just generally improving their lifestyle and the liveability of our wonderful region.”

Ms Allison said she had enjoyed working proactively with Council and Spinal Life had since taken an active role in consulting on projects including the new regional aquatic centre and accessibility in the CBD.

“I think this sort of thing that council have done is just great.

“Spine Life members, they're active now, doing all sorts of things.

“It's important that we can access roadways, parking lots.”

To report an issue to Council call 1300 883 699, email ceo@bundaberg.qld.gov.au, pop into a service centre or lodge it through the Snap Send Solve app.

Indulgence Dog Spa opens to pamper your pooch

Ashley Schipper

A new dog grooming salon has just opened its doors in Bundaberg, offering pampering services for pooches of all shapes and sizes.

Deborah Edwards is the owner of Indulgence Dog Spa, located at 3b Walker Street, and said she was excited to bring her skillset and passion to new clients in the region after eight years in the industry.

“I am a certified dog groomer since 2014,” she said.

“I started as a mobile groomer in Hervey Bay and after my van broke down in 2017, I opened my own home salon.

“I moved to the Bundaberg Region in 2019 and have just opened Indulgence Dog Spa.”

Deborah said her business operated as a one-man-show with her setup the perfect space to cater for a single pooch at a time.

“I take approximately two hours per groom – I don't like to rush things,” she said.

“My space is set up to provide a safe area for your dog during their treatment.”

Deborah said she loved everything about being a groomer, from meeting different people to making pets feel great after their appointment.

“What's there not to love, I get to play with dogs all day!” she laughed.

“It can be really rewarding.

“I could have a dog that comes in as a matted mess, then the reaction of the owner when they stop by for pick up and they are astounded at how their pet has transformed, it's a great feeling.

“It's about making everyone happy, dog and owner.”

Deborah not only uses her skillset at Indulgence Dog Spa, she was also once a big winner in the competition circuit.

“I have competed in plenty of grooming competitions across the nation,” she said.

“I have come first and third at the Brisbane Royal Show and taken places in other competitions at the Gold Coast, Coffs Harbour and more.”

And while she has pet poodles of her own at home, Deborah said she isn't biased when it comes to choosing a favourite breed to groom.

“They are all great!” she said.

“I do love poodles because their coats are different but I also love Pomeranians because they are little fluff balls.”

Indulgence Dog Spa is open Tuesday to Saturday from 8.30 am at 3b Walker Street, Bundaberg.

Find out more on the Facebook page here.

25 years of Bundaberg CMF Army Reserve Association

Ashley Schipper

More than 80 members of the Bundaberg CMF Army Reserve Association will gather for a special celebration dinner this month to commemorate 25 years of operation.

CMF stands for Citizens Military Force but was changed in the early 1990s to what is now known as the Australian Army Reserve.

Secretary Helen Hancock said the local organisation had a proud history in the region with its founding members all having joined the CMF from a young age.

“The CMF started in 1901 and in 1942 compulsory military was introduced when all single men between the ages of 18 to 45 were required to join to defend Australia,” she said.

“In 1993 the CMF changed to the Army Reserve.

“In 1997, four previous members of the CMF decided to start an association of former and present members of the Army Reserve.”

Helen said the large group featured members ranging in age and from a multitude of varying backgrounds.

“It's not just the Army Reserve, we are open to members of all armed forces and have also included the police, ambulance, fire and anyone else who would like to join,” she said.

Local connections keep CMF Army Reserve Association members active

For 25 years, the Bundaberg CMF Army Reserve Association has been involved in many activities within the region including an ongoing partnership with Bundaberg East State School.

“My late husband Alan Hancock, the principal Doug Ambrose and teacher librarian Paul McMillian started a writing competition and after my husband died 15 years ago the school presented a memorial shield in his honour,” Helen said.

“We have attended the school each year to present the shield to the winner at their Anzac Parade as well as a $50 voucher from Dymocks.

“Later this year we will be presenting the school with a display case containing a relic from Hellfire Pass, Burma Railway.

“We obtained this relic from Government House when former Governor General Paul De Jersey retired.”

Helen said the group was proud of its community and often planned trips and outings to keep members active.

“We have meeting once a month, also members go to Eidsvold for weekend shoots and we have been on trips away and try to have monthly Sunday lunches,” she said.

“It is important for friendship and fellowship, we are all getting older and enjoy the comradeship.”

To celebrate their 25 year anniversary, Helen said the Citizens Military Force dinner would be held at Rowers on the River on Saturday 21 May for its 80 members.

To find out more contact Helen on 0438768844 or by email helenhancock53@gmail.com or president Steve Pohlman at stratagri@bigpond.com.

Children's theatre program receives funding boost

Ashley Schipper

A theatre and mentoring program for children will be hosted in the Bundaberg Region to teach young thespians about the thrill of performing while building up their confidence.

Hosted by Cilla Pershouse of Blue Gum Farm TV fame, The Moo Crew production and workshops will take place in Gin Gin and throughout Bundaberg schools from next week.

To help bring the travelling program to the area, Bundaberg Regional Council has awarded $6800 to The Moo Crew from the Regional Arts Development Fund (RADF).

Cilla said she was thrilled to be hosting her project in the local region after experiencing success in previous years.

“We have delivered a similar program in the Bundaberg Region last year and due to overwhelming demand, we made it a priority to return with a new program this year,” she said.

“Tailored especially for children in regional and remote areas The Moo Crew celebrates the everyday lives of Australia’s ‘bush kids’ and champions the work of their farming families.

“Presented by an outstanding cast of educational entertainers, The Moo Crew incorporates song, dance, and storytelling to take the audience on an imaginative and interactive journey of rural Australia.”

Cilla said the program also offered local children special theatre master classes, exploring theatre arts in a workshop environment.

“Classes are held prior to The Moo Crew show time and mentored by the cast from the show,” she said.

“It's a wonderful opportunity for regional children to experience the thrill of performance while gaining new skills and building confidence!”

Theatre program funding brings Moo Crew to region

A fourth generation grazier, Cilla was born and raised on a property outside of Gayndah in South East Queensland.

Home educated alongside her three siblings she was a total bush kid and spent many hours of her childhood working alongside her family on the property.

At age 19 Cilla left the family farm to pursue an education (and later career) as a professional singer and actor.

An industry which took her away from her rural roots, Cilla realized very quickly that the life she knew in the bush was a world away from the city.

She earned a Bachelor of Music Theatre before going on to complete a Post Graduate Certificate in Voice from the Queensland Conservatorium of Music.

After several successful years as a professional singer in live theatre and television across Australia, Cilla couldn’t shake her country girl ways and so returned to her family property in 2014.

Since then Cilla has dedicated herself to developing an educational entertainment program called Blue Gum Farm TV that uses music, song and storytelling to promote the value of rural industries and communities to children across Australia.

Community services portfolio spokesperson Cr Tracey McPhee said Bundaberg Regional Council was pleased to support such a diverse and educational children's program.

“The cast and crew of Blue Gum Farm TV share their passion for farming culture in a fun and imaginative presentation that will help foster confidence and joy in our younger generation,” she said.

“I am sure many of our local children will enjoy building up their skills for the stage and their confidence in performing with The Moo Crew.”

The theatre program funding was provided by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland.

The Regional Arts Development Fund is a partnership between the Queensland Government and the Bundaberg Regional Council to support local arts and culture in regional Queensland.

What's on

Land Locked comedy show supports surf club

Emma Turnbull

It will be a barrel of laughs as Queensland’s best cruise ship comedians put on their Land Locked comedy show at Riverfeast to raise money for Bundaberg Surf Life Saving Club.

The Land Locked comedy tour stars four comedians, Rob Brown, Fiona McGary, Steve Allison and Andrew Nason, in a show which will set sail to four regional communities before finishing off in Bundaberg on Sunday 22 May.

Bundaberg Surf Life Saving Club secretary Amanda Findlay said the event would be the ideal way to finish off the Bundaberg Surf Life Saving Club’s centenary weekend celebrations.

“The timing just happened to be on the same weekend and what better way to finish off a weekend of celebrating than to sit down with a beer and have a laugh,” she said. 

“Corporate Comedians approached us with the idea and it seemed like something that we could manage.

“It’s an opportunity to have a laugh and see four of Queensland’s best cruise ship comedians.

“Riverfeast is hosting the event and there'll be a food vendor and live music from 3 pm and the comedy show starts at 5 pm.”

Amanda said the Land Locked comedy show would help to cover future running costs of the Bundaberg Surf Life Saving Club.

“Bundaberg Surf Life Saving Club continues to raise funds to keep volunteer patrols operational,” she said.

“There's ongoing costs for patrol operations and these funds will go towards starting off the new season fully functioning.”

A Corporate Comedians spokesperson said the show would be a great opportunity for the comedians to engage with communities who were doing it tough during COVID-19.

“The show brings all the fun of a cruise ship without the buffet or sea sickness,” the spokesperson said.

“It presents an opportunity for regional non-profit organisations to raise much-needed funds to continue the great work they do in their local communities.”

The Land Locked comedy tour is made possible through a grant from Arts Queensland.

It will be held at Riverfeast on Sunday 22 May.

To purchase tickets, click here.

Laughs in store: Becky's Pickles presents The Real Dill

Emma Turnbull

Three local actors will have the audience in stitches as they take to the Playhouse Theatre stage for a show of improvisation when Becky’s Pickles presents The Real Dill.

For a number of years Tim Greig, Kyle Schneider and Jacob Treloar have sprouted the idea to perform improv to showcase their craft of acting, and now it’s finally coming to fruition.

Gracing the stage together for many local productions previously, Becky’s Pickle’s The Real Dill will be the first co-produced show by the trio.

“We have talked about doing some sort of show together for a couple of years now, but I think an improv show appealed to us as we all have fond memories of doing it when we were younger,” Tim said.

“It’s a blast for those acting in it and those who are watching the madness unfold.

“It makes me a bit nervous because I have no idea what will happen on the night, but that's also very exciting, since there is limitless opportunity for fun and laughter.”

Kyle said he expected the audience to laugh a lot and to walk away very entertained.

“Improv isn’t something you see a whole lot of, especially in regional towns like Bundaberg, so for us we love the opportunity to be able to fill a bit of a gap in the performance market,” Kyle said.

“For me, improv is one of my favourite things when it comes to acting and performing.

“I absolutely love just going on stage and making up everything, there is of course a fear when it comes to it as you have to make sure that it makes sense, is funny, and flows.

“I am really excited – it is going to be a night of laughs and fun for everyone!”

Jacob said he had mixed feelings in the lead up to the show but knew the audience would enjoy whatever was to happen on stage.

A teaspoon of anxiety. A cup of gratefulness. And a gallon on joy!” he said.

“Their (audiences) ribs will hurt from their laughter.”

Tim agreed and said the evening might end up in disarray.

“Well, it’s going to be chaotic but it in a good way,” he said.

“It makes me a bit nervous because I have no idea what will happen on the night, but that's also very exciting since there is limitless opportunity for fun and laughter.”

Becky's Pickles inspired by mentor

Inspired by years of mentoring from local theatre director Rebecca Hutchins, the trio said Becky’s Pickles was named in her honour.

“Well, Becky is one of our biggest mentors when it comes to drama, acting and performing,” Kyle said.

“Becky (Bex) is the artistic director of the Playhouse Theatre and owner and teacher at Drama Queens the Studio where we all attended and met each other.

“Naming our improv troupe after her is a bit of homage to how she has helped us and shaped us over the years.”

As for or the second name to the show, the lads said pickles just seemed to stick.

“Pickles, well, um… that’s a tough one; we got together at the start of the year and when discussing names, we wanted something fun, stupid, made people question what we were, but also be memorable,” Kyle said.

“In that meeting lots of names were tossed around and the idea of incorporating something random was discussed, and pickles came up!

“I love pickles, Jacob kind of likes them, and Tim says he has never tried one before, so maybe we will get him to try his first pickle at the show!”

Becky’s Pickles presents The Real Dill will be held at Playhouse Theatre, on Friday, 3 June at 8 pm.

A mature audience is recommended.

To purchase tickets, click here.

Book review

In Our Garage Peter Armitage Holden HQ Belmont 1973

Paul Donaldson

Holden fan Peter Armitage spent a long time searching for the perfect vehicle to restore before he found his prized possession, the 1973 HQ Belmont.

Q. Tell us about your car.

A. My car is a 1973 HQ Belmont.

It’s an original Bundaberg car I've owned for around seven years now and I'm the second owner of it.

The lady who owned it before her father bought it in Mount Gravatt in Brisbane in 1973.

When he bought it, the floods were on and he put it on a train up to Bundaberg.

They were a fairly common car.

They made them all over Australia and they exported them as well to South Africa and America.

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

A. The condition of the car when I got it was it was pretty beat up.- it had been loved to death.

It was very faded, you could see the undercoat underneath it and not much rust, which was a blessing.

I bought it roadworthy and registered, I could drive it straight away.

Q. What work did you have to do to get the car to the standard it is today?

A. The panel beater, who is retired now, completely stripped it back to bare metal and did a full body restore from there.

It's been restored back to its original colour, which is Salamanca red.

It still has the old, original interior in it.

It was fairly dirty so it needed a good scrubbing with a toothbrush.

Q. Why did you want to buy a HQ Holden?

A. I bought the HQ because I've always wanted one and I was searching and searching so long for one, I'm a Holden fan too.

There's not many of them left around no more.

People just put them in paddocks, let them rust away and don't do them up.

They're just beautiful things to look at.

It's just one of a kind the HQ, they never reproduced it in any other way.

The thing I like about it is that it's metal, solid metal, you slam the door shut and they thud shut.

It's an old school car, you still got the crank handles to wind the windows up.

I put the grandkids in it and they don't know how to get out or wind the window up!

Q. How much time do you spend on keeping it clean and maintained?

A. I spend a lot of time polishing it, the maintenance, keeping the tires up, keeping oil up and water and listening out for things.

The chrome, I'll clean it once a year and it just stays good.

I try to drive it as much as possible, but I don't like driving it in the rain.

Usually, it goes for a drive on every Sunday if I can.

When I'm not driving it, it's tucked under its blanket to keep the dust off it at home.

Q. What do you love about the car?

A. The thing I love about the car the most is the driving of it, it’s a beautiful car to drive.

I get a lot of people waving to me and giving the thumbs up.

You see a lot of people reacting to it and looking at it, they say oh, my dad had one too like this and my mum had one like this.

In Our Garage is always on the lookout for more interesting vehicles around our region.

To have your vehicle featured contact us via email at news@bundabergnow.com

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Local touch players score big in national tournament

Georgia Neville

Three Bundaberg touch players represented the region at the annual Inferno National Touch League competition last weekend, competing against some of the best from around the nation.

Kharla Hills and Taylor Driver were selected in the CQ Bulls under 20 women’s side while Jesse Young made the under 20 men’s side.

The National Touch League is a nationwide tournament for the sport of Touch Football, held annually in Coffs Harbour.

While the CQ Bulls under 20 women’s side had to pull out due to limited numbers, Kharla and Taylor were then selected to play for the NSW Southern Suns team allowing them the opportunity to still compete.

Bundaberg Touch Vice President Ainsley Driver said the event was a great opportunity for the local players to showcase their skills up against others from around the country.

“To get to play with some of the best players in your region and then compete against the rest of the states of Australia is a big achievement,” Ainsley said.

“Bundaberg Touch has had many players represent Queensland and Australia over the years and it is great to see our region producing high-quality athletes.

“These players really love the game, they train, they play whenever they can to get more experience and they work on their weaknesses as athletes. “

To be selected for the competition, the three locals competed in a trial day to showcase their skills to selectors.

“They go through vigorous fitness, ball skills tests and game knowledge to be selected to represent their region,” Ainsley said.

“The National Touch League is fiercely competitive, and it is also one of the pathways to be selected to play for you state and beyond.

“It is an important step for those players wanting to represent their community, state, and hopefully Australia one day.”

Taylor said the opportunity to play in the competition provided her the chance to make new friends and learn new skills.

“I was playing with a NSW team due to having my CQ team pull out, so it was a bit different playing with new people, but I also had a great time meeting them all and it was a big learning opportunity for me,” Taylor said.

“Everyone was there to have fun and play touch footy and their love for their sport and it was a great environment to be in.”

Kharla Hills said the experience taught her how to adjust quickly to a new team and playing style.

“It was a great experience.

“We had not played for the team before so we had to learn to adjust very quickly,” she said.

“It was great to make some new friendships and come away from the experience with those.”

The annual four-day event allows 13 regional permits from across Australia to compete in open, mixed and master’s as well as all abilities divisions.