Weekender: Deems share secret to lifelong love

Crofton Street works underway for Friendlies expansion

Ashley Schipper

Plans for the Friendlies Society Private Hospital expansion is underway with construction underway in Crofton Street.

The work has closed the street to develop an access road plus additional parking and is set to be completed within the next four weeks.

CEO Simone Finch said it was the beginning a major Friendlies expansion to the hospital that would provide benefits to both patients and staff into the future.

“These works will allow us to be ready for expansion works in the future, works that will have a foundation in comprehensive business analysis before we start so that we know we can meet the current and future needs of the Bundaberg community,” she said.

To build the facility to meet those needs, Ms Finch said work had already started on the new location of The Friendlies Pharmacy at the hospital near the Bingera Street entrance.

“Having a larger space will allow us to service the community with an easy access pharmacy that offers additional services such as robot script dispensing, medication packing and an increased range of products,” Simone said.

“We will be consolidating our two pharmacies into this one larger facility.

“The Barolin Street pharmacy has recently been sold to a pharmacy group, who has worked collaboratively with us to ensure that all staff will retain their positions during the transition which will happen in August this year.

“The new business owner is a local and recognises the fantastic staff we have and is happy to offer the ongoing employment to our team.”

Ms Finch said the Friendlies expansion and new hospital pharmacy would allow for the growth and support of other services including Allied Health, NDIS, DVA and Home Health while improving the continuum of care with in-patient areas and the emergency department.

“Patients, their families and supports are our absolute focus in everything we do,” she said.

“My focus is to build on the strong foundation of The Friendlies, ensuring that everyone who needs our services and care feel like they belong while being treated to world class medical care.”

Find out more abut Friendly Society Private Hospital here.

Childers Festival turns up the heat with chilli competition

Georgia Neville

Childers Festival is heating up this year with the addition of a Chilli Wing Eating competition which will be held as part of festival day on Sunday 31 July.

Childers Fine Foods is the business behind the heat with owners Mark and Nat Albert growing the hottest chilli in the world, the Carolina reaper.

This year is the first time the family-owned and operated business will take part in Childers Festival, with the couple looking forward to the opportunity.

“We are very excited and looking forward to the festival this year as it will be great for the area and great for the people,” they said.

“We have been three years in the making of growing our chillies and defining our recipes and this is a big challenge for us, but certainly an exciting challenge as it will be the biggest audience to try our sauces.

“While we do sell all over Australia, having so many people here in Childers provides a great opportunity to get our product into the public eye which is very exciting.”

The couple, who moved to Childers from Sydney’s inner west, decided to use their love for cooking, their horticultural qualifications and passion for all things home grown to produce the finest quality Carolina reaper chillies in Australia.

After travelling around the country for months in search of the perfect conditions, they found themselves at home in Childers.

“Childers provides a great environment to grow the chillies as we have the beautiful rich red volcanic soil which is full of minerals and no matter what you put in the ground it grows beautifully,” the duo said.

“We also have a fantastic climate as we rarely get frosts which makes it perfect for growing.

“We could have called the business anything but we love showcasing the name Childers, and what is in these bottles and packaging is what comes out of this great area.

“We have seen a lot of Queensland and Childers drew us back as the people are great and the countryside is great.”

The range of products available include everything from sauces for the family dinner table, right through to sauces that will challenge how much heat you can handle.

“Our Carolina reaper chillies are the base of all our sauces,” they said.

“We start with a very mild ketchup and barbecue sauce, which we refer to as our family table sauce, and then we ramp all the way up to a sauce that is basically unbearable, but people do love it.

“We have a variety of jerky as well so we have something for everyone.”

Visitors to the festival will have the chance to try the products at the Childers Fine Foods stall on festival day.

“We will have a stall on the festival day which will showcase all of our products and we will be doing tastings to give people a chance to challenge themselves to see how hot they can handle,” they said.

“We will have a range of specials as well as the product used in the chilli wing competition will be available for everyone to try.”

Chilli competition to heat up Crescent Street

The Chilli Wing Eating Competition will be held on the Paverock Quarry stage comprising of two rounds, amateur and professional.

Competitors are set with the challenge to eat 10 chicken wings in 10 minutes.

Amateurs are provided with wings smothered in ‘Kiss the Reaper’ chilli sauce (10/10 on the heat spectrum), while professionals will receive five covered in sauce and five coated with
Carolina Reaper chilli powder, for a more refined experience.

Mark and Nat said as the heat will be on, they encourage people to practice eating chilli ahead of the competition.

“I would say practice eating chilli, get yourself started off low and ramp your way up slowly.

“The amateur level will be a very short and sharp, not so hot but it will still be challenging and then the professional side will see a variety in the way the wings are cooked, along with a few surprises at the end.

“We are going to have a chilli candy and a shot glass of sauce to finish it off and wash it down so to speak.”

Register to take part in the competition here.

You can find out more about Childers Fine Foods here.

Benefits flow from wastewater solar installations

Megan Dean

The benefits of two large-scale solar installations continue to flow at local wastewater treatment plants with Bundaberg Regional Council to sell excess power to offset operational costs.

Government grants allowed for a 360kw solar system to be installed at Rubyanna Wastewater Treatment Plant in addition to a 101kw system at Millbank Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Council this week agreed to sell the excess power from both plants, entering into an arrangement with Green Energy Trading for the Sale of Large-Scale Generation Certificates.

Mayor Jack Dempsey said the initiative was welcome news and would offset the cost of running the wastewater treatment plants by about $23,000 a year.

“Through our commitment to sustainability we’ve been taking advantage of grant opportunities to invest in renewable energy,” Mayor Dempsey said.

“So not only did ratepayers not have to pay for the cost to install the wastewater treatment plant solar systems, the excess power they are generating is helping to reduce the costs of running these facilities.”

Council’s wastewater treatment plants, water treatment plants and pump stations run 24 hours a day, seven days a week to efficiently treat wastewater and supply safe drinking water to the community.

“As the cost of electricity continues to rise anything we can do to offset the costs of this important and essential function is a positive.

“It’s clean, it’s green and it’s part of Council’s ongoing commitment to sustainability.”

Council has sustainability focus

In addition to investing in renewable energy, Council is seeking Eco Destination certification.

Mayor Dempsey said when you live in the most beautiful part of the world it was important to protect and celebrate it.

“You’ll often hear me refer to the beautiful Bundaberg Region and that’s a simple fact,” he said.

“There are countless natural wonders to be discovered in our little slice of paradise and it’s incumbent on us to do what we can to protect it.”

Businesses interested in seeking Eco Certification or Climate Action Certification can register for Council’s incentive program.

Find out more on the project page.

Well-known brands partner for Gin and Pie Day


Two iconic Bundaberg brands, Chics Pies and Kalki Moon, are coming together for the inaugural Gin and Pie Day on June 25.

A unique event will be featured at the Kalki Moon Distillery to celebrate the day, bringing together local businesses to pay homage to the food and drink industry of the region.

The creation of the event is the idea of Kalki Moon founder Rick Prosser.

“We want to bring the locals together for an event like no other, featuring well-known brands Chics Pies and international-award winning Kalki Moon gin, along with award winning craft beverages from the Ballistic Beer Co, Ohana apple cider, and wine from Moffatdale Ridge at Murgon, all under one roof,” he said.

“But it’s not just about the food and drink.

“It’s important that two or three times a year, we get locals in to have a drink at the distillery, so they don’t lose touch with what we do here, and who we are.”

“Ninety per cent of our business here at the distillery is gin tasting by tourists, so we want locals to feel like we have success because of their support.”

Gin and Pie Day to celebrate local industry

Rick said Kalki Moon was 100 per cent family owned and operated and employed about a dozen locals.

He said Gin and Pie Day was a great way to celebrate the region as well as other local brands that make up the Bundaberg food bowl.

“Never have we seen so many people move to Bundaberg, we want locals to know how important they are for our business,” he said.

“We are the food bowl of Queensland, if not the country, and collaborations like this are just so important for getting artisans together under one roof.

“You’d be surprised how amazing Gin tastes with a chicken pie from Chics Pies!”

Gin and Pie Day was also made possible thanks to Kalki Moon being a holder of an artisan licence which was introduced by the State Government in March last year.

The license allows artisan distillers and craft brewers to sell their own product on-premises and for takeaway, within stipulated production limits.

The Gin and Pie Day is a ticketed event costing just $10, which is redeemable on the night for food and drink.

Entertainment will be provided by local acoustic guitarist Keely Sliwka and DJ Brad Marsellos.

Doors for the Gin and Pie Day event at the Kalki Moon Distillery at 22 Commercial Street, Svensson Heights, open at 2 pm.

Reducing unwanted litters focus of Operation Wanted

Ashley Schipper

Bundaberg Region pet owners are being encouraged to visit participating veterinary clinics to receive 20 per cent off the cost of desexing as part of Operation Wanted.

The annual RSPCA campaign has partnered with Bundaberg Regional Council and a number of local vets to help incentivise residents to desex their pets to reduce unwanted litters of kittens and puppies.

Bundaberg RSPCA animal care manager Lorin Grey said one simple operation could provide many health benefits for your pet and prevent thousands of unwanted animals ending up at pounds and shelters every year.

“There's so many reasons why you should desex your pets, for the animals themselves it can have health benefits down the track in terms of reducing rates of certain types of cancers.

“The number one reason is to reduce unwanted litters.

“At the moment we have our little kitten Sawyer here who is one of a litter of seven… there are so many unwanted and homeless animals like Sawyer who need to go into safe homes and desexing your pets can go a long way in helping us combat that.”

Council's Health, Compliance and Enforcement portfolio spokesperson Cr May Mitchell said during Operation Wanted, dog owners applying for registration for the first time would be offered an incentive.

“Council is offering free first-time dog registrations in the hope of encouraging more people to desex their pets,” she said.

“Not only does this operation benefit your dog's quality of life, but it will also reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies which ultimately lead to a lot more animals out on the street.

“To apply for free, first-time registration of your dog just fill out the online form or speak to one of Council's customer service officers.”

Operation Wanted helps pets and pet owners

Bundaberg Greencross vet Dr Melanie Power said Operation Wanted provided benefits for both pet owner and pet.

“For some people, desexing an animal is quite expensive and times are tough these days so the 20 per cent off initiative is really worth taking advantage of,” she said.

“There are a lot of feral cats and wild dogs out there and they have an impact on wildlife in the area.

“By having your pets desexed not only are you reducing the risk of diseases that they can have, you are also stopping the unnecessary number of litters.”

Find out more about Operation Wanted here.

Hold a tune with Rhythms of the Reef

Emma Turnbull

If you love to sing and can hold a tune then Rhythms of the Reef Chorus could be the perfect social singing group for you.

The long-running organisation is looking for new members, especially those of the younger generation, to take up an interest and join the female chorus group.

Rhythms of the Reef Chorus team coordinator Christine Bush said the group had recently reformed and they were excited to be at rehearsals and singing at events such as Bundaberg Regional Council’s Australian Citizenship Ceremonies.

“Like many groups, it was hit and miss through Covid, but now we are back and will be performing at the July citizenship ceremony,” Christine said.

“We are a four-part harmony acapella group; the four parts are lead, bass, baritone, and tenor.

“There’s a position for all types of singers!”

Christine said the Rhythms of the Reef Chorus currently had 13 members in the group with the call out for more women to join.

“We don’t have many young ladies in the group at present,” she said.

“As an aging chorus, we would love to see more young females take an interest.

“There’s a big range of music we sing and we’re introducing more modern songs to attract the younger crowd, we sing pretty much anything – well, not rap or anything like that!

“If they can hold a tune then we will find somewhere for them in one of the four parts of pure harmony.”

Christine said the group would learn songs with music, but when it came to performing the use of “pure harmony” was all that was needed.

She said the group offered a welcoming space for those who loved to sing.

“It’s not all hard work, really, we are a big family,” she said.

“We’re also looking for a musical director to join us too.”

Rhythms of the Reef Chorus hold rehearsals on Tuesdays at the Across the Waves Sports complex, for more information check out the Facebook page or email: rhythmsofthereef@gmail.com

What's on

Seeds of Unity art project to unite local community

Georgia Neville

A Seeds of Unity Mandala, made up of hundreds of painted leopard tree pods, will grow at Bundaberg Art Gallery with the community invited to take part in its ongoing installation.

Starting later this month, Council will host drop-in activities and pop up stalls at community events and at the region’s galleries.

The activities will be held throughout the remainder of the year with residents invited to paint a leopard tree pod to add to the work of art.

Council’s Arts, Culture and Events portfolio spokesperson Cr John Learmonth said the Seeds of Unity project represented community spirit, character, image, and pride.

“When we collaborate, we create a ripple effect that shapes connections within our community, and we become a part of something greater than ourselves,” he said.

“This art installation recognises that being part of a community can have a positive effect on mental health and emotional wellbeing.

“It will provide people with a sense of belonging and enables us to share personal experiences and support each other, ourselves, and our environment.”

Cr Learmonth said the activity would help bring the community together while creating an opportunity for people to showcase their unique creativity.

“This is a fantastic project being launched by Bundaberg Regional Galleries in a bid to embed the creative arts within the community as a means for improving social connectivity and mental health,” Cr Learmonth said.

“The beauty of a Mandala, is that it is complete and evolving, simultaneously.”

Seeds of Unity workshops start in June

The community art workshops will launch on Saturday 25 June at Childers Art Space and the Gin Gin Community Hub, while in Bundaberg, the Outdoor Art Room will facilitate the activity during the school holidays on Tuesday 28 June, Friday 1 July, Tuesday 5 July and Friday 8 July.

Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery will feature this project as its ongoing ImaginArts activity, allowing anyone to drop in and take part, as well as running sessions again during the September and October school holidays.

There will be Seeds of Unity pop up stalls at a number of community events throughout the remainder of the year including:

• Childers Festival
• Taste Festival
• Milbi Festival

To ensure there is enough seed pods, leopard tree pod donations for this project are welcome and can be dropped at the Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery or Childers Art Space.

Painted seed pods can only be accepted from gallery hosted workshops as, due to the fragile nature of artworks in the gallery, all pods must be specially treated by gallery staff prior to being utilised.

Leopard trees are often planted on footpaths and their seed pods cover the ground around them, although please ensure pods that are collected are clean and unbroken.

This will be the fourth activity of its kind, based on the original project developed by Womenspace in Sandgate in 1998.

Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery is reimagining The Seeds of Unity project as a large-scale community involvement art installation.

The project has been purposely designed to be accessible to all of community over an extended duration.

It is hoped to capture the attention of a diverse range of participants to create their own unique piece to include in this large-scale ephemeral artwork.

The first contributions to the project will be on display from Saturday 20 August and the installation will be ever growing and on display until the end of the year.

Pete O'Brien takes music to USA

Ashley Schipper

Bundaberg musician Pete O'Brien is taking his country rock sound to the world after recently being signed to United States-based 9 Lives Records.

It's a massive feat for the local artist who has been perfecting his music for the past 30 years, playing gigs around Bundaberg and beyond either solo or with band 2EZ.

Pete said signing with the indie record label, based in Kentucky, could potentially pave the way for even bigger things in his career.

“The company is a feeder for Sony USA,” he said.

“It’s very hard to get your name and music out so with this opportunity, it may help.

“I am signed for a one-album deal at the moment which I am very excited about.”

That album, called Wildfire, is set to launch in America on 25 June and Australia on 26 June.

“Wildfire is country rock fused with electronica, I always like to fuse different genres of music together because it makes it exciting for the audience,” Pete said.

“All the songs have different meanings to me.

“I suppose out of all the songs one that grabs me the most is a song called Butcher of Balmoral, which is about my grandfather who was a butcher in Brisbane in the Second World War and how he fed the poor and looked after them.”

Pete O'Brien promotes all local music

Pete said for his local fans, a special album launch event will be held at Café 1928 in the Bundaberg Botanic Gardens.

He said it would be an opportunity for music lovers to expand their knowledge of other local artists.

“I will have the pleasure of showcasing some of Bundaberg's upcoming original artists,” Pete said.

“Every launch I showcase the young locals.

“I think its important to give them a stage to show the people of Bundaberg what amazing talent we have in this town.

“At the Wildfire launch I will have Peter Sajko playing some of his originals and Mercia Griffies from Jo Carr Singing School.

“Mercia is an 11-year-old powerhouse who has already sang our national anthem at various events.”

Pete said after three decades of working in the entertainment industry he was excited about the next chapter of his career with the signing of his record label deal.

He said it was a good reminder for others to keep pushing.

“My message to all young musicians is never give up on your dream,” Pete said.

“Work hard, listen and respect those who have done the hard yards and for those aged musicians like myself remember you're never too old to rock n roll.”

Podcast: Palace Memorial building

Adele Bennett

Adele Bennett 

Once a backpacker hostel, the Palace Memorial building now houses a moving commemoration to the 15 travellers who tragically lost their lives as a result of arson.

It was the second devastating fire in the building’s history.

The original building was lost in the great Childers fire of 1902.

It was reopened in 1903 and was converted to backpacker accommodation in the early 1990s.

This month marks 22 years since a second fire devastated the Palace building, as a result of arson, and 15 people tragically lost their lives.

University lecturer and artist Sam Di Mauro was asked to create a memorial for those who lost their lives which is featured in the Palace Memorial building.

“Once something is put into the mind, the mind doesn't stop thinking about how can this be interpreted,” Sam said.

“Who are the people that I am responsible to? How about the families of these young people? Who were these young people?

“All those sorts of things are sort of going through the mind and trying to come to terms with an interpretation of this word ‘memorial' in the context of this disaster.

“It was very traumatic for me to be taking on that that task.

“But it was very, very, very rewarding.”

Listen now to hear more about the backpacker memorial:

Got You Covered library column

In Our Garage: Sheree Bulbert's 2019 Ford Mustang

Sheree Bulbert is a self-proclaimed “Ford girl” and loves everything about her pride and joy Mustang GT.

Q. Tell us about your car:

A. I have a 2019 Ford Mustang GT.

I've had it since February this year, so not very long at all.

It's second-hand.

I spent about a month looking for a mustang and just trying to work out the right colour.

There's many different colours and you can do so much with them and there's lots of striping and accessories.

I spent a good month looking online and found this one down in Adelaide.

It was in the right price range, for the right age so I just jumped on it and got it shipped up.

Q. Why did you want a Ford Mustang?

A. I'm a Ford girl from always.

My dad had lots of cars, and he's a Ford man.

I do like the old muscle cars, to be honest, the 1970's style Fords.

But even just to get a replica model there, they're getting really expensive, and I don't have the garage space or the time to work on something my own.

The Mustangs are obviously an iconic muscle car from way back, so that's where we started.

I like this shape, I like their style, I like their history.

The 1970 1xy Falcons are my favourite and we had them for our wedding cars.

Q. What do you love about this car and what made it a stand out for you?

A. I like its rear end.

There's just something about the back end of it.

It's just so sleek and sexy and muscly, it's unique.

It's not plain white, I like that.

It's got a bit of character already on it, it's got the C stripes, it's got the black spoiler on it.

The decals on the mustang on the front is black and not silver.

I just find it's a very unique car.

Q. Do you get a lot of attention driving the car?

A. The attention is still something that I'm trying to get used to but I do love everyone's reactions from little kids through to the older generation who appreciate the mustang history, it's exciting.

You pull up next to someone and they don't expect to see a female in the driver's seat but I've got my name on the personalised plate, so hopefully that will give it away.

You should not get your dream car just because you're not a guy.

If you're interested and you've got a love for it or a passion for it, just go and get it and have fun with it.

I don't hide it away in the garage, it’s my daily drive.

I like driving it to work, I drive my kids to school every day, I’m proud and I love it.

There is a Ford Mustang Club for FN & FM models of Mustangs, which are the new models.

So when I get the free time I'll be looking forward to going out with them all.

Q. What engine is in the car and how does it sound?

A. It is a five litre V8 engine, ten speed automatic, 339 kilowatts, it's got a bit of kick under there.

It is not that old V8 engine sounds, it's got a deep rumble.

The vehicle itself has different modes.

You can change the sound of the exhaust from quiet to normal to sport to racetrack.

I would love to have the opportunity to take it to a racetrack and try out all the different modes in the car.

There is suspension, steering modes and all that sort of thing.

It'd be a good opportunity.

If the girls want to get out there, get into their dream cars and just give the boys a run for their money - let's do it.

To have your vehicle featured in In Our Garage contact email us at news@bundabergnow.com

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Dolphins make a splash in Bundaberg Region


Representatives from the Dolphins NRL club visited Bundaberg to announce a local development partnership that is set to provide extensive benefits for the area.

The partnership with The Waves Sports Club will fund the establishment of a full-time Game Development Officer to provide assistance at schools and clubs in the local catchment.

A recruitment process will now begin to select the right person to fill the role.

A valuable resource for the local community, the Game Development Officer will be charged with a range of tasks that will benefit young people in the Wide Bay region.

These include school student engagement, growth of community sport participation, development of sporting club administration, and coach education that will include advice from elite academy coaches and high-performance staff.

The Dolphins are already heavily involved in game development in the area, establishing pathways for junior players and providing specialist coaching for the local academy squad from people such as multiple NRL grand final-winning coach Wayne Bennett.

The announcement of this dedicated role continues an important week for the Wide Bay region, which will also witness the debut of the Dolphins Cup schoolboy competition this week.

The Dolphins Cup will give locals schools Bundaberg State High and Shalom College the opportunity to compete against Central Queensland teams for the right to progress to the Queensland state finals.

The two schools will face off in both the under-15 and Open age groups from 5pm tomorrow night.

New Dolphins partnership major coup for Bundaberg Region

The Waves Sports Club chief executive officer Brendan Royall said the club was proud to be a partner of the Dolphins in the implementation of a Game Development Officer in the Wide Bay.

“This partnership aligns strongly with our charter to foster, promote, support and encourage competitive and recreational sport activity,” Mr. Royall said.

“We strive to be a total entertainment provider and bring communities together at quality sporting and recreational facilities within a family environment.

“The Waves’ socio-economic contributions to affiliated sports clubs, non-affiliated sporting
organisations and local community organisations averages $1.2 million annually and has exceeded $6.3 million over the past five years.

“The Waves is excited about our partnership with the Dolphins NRL team and the implementation of a Game Development Officer in our community, which will benefit rugby league and many other sports in the region.”

Dolphins’ NRL chief executive Terry Reader said the new position would be a valuable resource for the community in Bundaberg and the Wide Bay region.

“This role will mean someone is dedicated to assisting rugby league and other sporting clubs in the area to provide better coaching and development,” Mr. Reader said.

“But it is not just about assisting rugby league, it also has multiple other benefits for the community.

“This partnership will include the implementation of a primary school engagement program focussed on gratitude, communication, healthy habits and staying active.

“We welcome The Waves Sports Club to the Dolphins partnership, and are excited about the outcomes this program will produce and add to the already wonderful work they do for the local community.”