Weekender: Sheila now calls Australia home

SES driveway sealing to improve response

Megan Dean

Their distinctive orange uniforms are often seen when the community needs support but in this year’s Council budget it’s local SES crews being given the helping hand.

Council has partnered with SES Support Grants to enable access upgrades for two local crews.

Both the Moore Park Beach and Childers SES facilities will benefit from the upgrades set to be undertaken in the 2023-24 financial year.

Local Disaster Management Group chair Mayor Jack Dempsey said the aim of the grants program was to provide financial support to Local Governments for projects and initiatives that enable the SES to respond to disasters and emergencies.

Under the grants Queensland Fire and Emergency Services provide 75% of the total cost.

“The ‘Orange Angels’ are always there when our community needs them which is why it’s so important that we help to ensure that the facilities they’re using are adequate to enable them to focus on providing emergency response when needed,” Mayor Dempsey said.

“Both the Moore Park Beach and Childers facilities will have their driveways sealed thanks to this funding.

“The sealing of the Moore Park Beach SES facility will ensure access during all weather conditions.

“Currently the sand-based entryway can create difficulties for SES members and volunteers during wet weather.

“Similarly, the Childers SES depot has a dirt and cracker dust driveway which creates access issues during wet weather.

“In wet weather before the volunteer members can collect their gear and head out to assist others they need to first get in and out of the access which can become boggy and slippery.

“These upgrades will ensure the volunteer members will be provided a safer means of accessing the buildings, ongoing maintenance costs will be minimised and the SES will be able to provide a more efficient means of response to the community.”

He said properly sealed access to the sheds and office would not only assist the members to perform their duties in a safe and professional manner but also allow the community to safely access the site.

“Currently it can become difficult for members of the public to access the depot in wet weather to collect sandbags from the sandpit area as none of the area is sealed.

“The sealing of the area will make it much safer for the volunteer members and the public to access in vehicles.”

Bundaberg Regional SES unit Local Controller Kieran Galey welcomed the funding support.

“The funding support that has been achieved is fantastic news for our SES groups at Moore Park and Childers for improving our service delivery to the community in times of need,” Kieran said.

“These facilities needing these crucial works have been critical in operational response with volunteers responding along our coastline in flood boat rescues, land searches and severe weather.”

Locomotive makes big move to Railway Museum

Natasha Harth

Bundaberg Railway Museum has recently taken delivery of an important piece of Queensland railway history after it was gifted a decommissioned 1960s 1600 class diesel-electric locomotive.

There are just five existing 1600 class locomotives remaining, located at railway museums and displays around Queensland.

The DEL1603 locomotive, the model of engine gifted to the museum, was built by English Electric in Rocklea Queensland, between 1962 and 1964, along with 17 other locomotives in the 1600 class.

At the time of their introduction, diesel locomotives in the 1600 class moved freight for approximately half the cost of the older steam engines.

In a massive day-long effort, the DEL1603 was moved from CQUniversity’s Bundaberg campus to the Bundaberg Railway Museum under the watchful eye of Bundaberg Railway Historical Society President Jim Morris.

Transporting a 62-tonne locomotive by road was no easy feat, involving three cranes, four trucks and many hours of careful planning.

The engine was hoisted by two cranes working in unison, then transferred onto a multideck truck that had a section of rail track installed to protect the truck deck.

Jim said the historical society had been planning and working toward the relocation for around 18 months after being offered the locomotive in late 2021.

To prepare for the locomotive’s arrival, Bundaberg Railway Historical Society had spent many volunteer hours re-sleepering and re-ballasting a section of the current line at the railway museum.

The truck was positioned over the prepared section of track, and as the diesel engine was again hoisted skyward, the truck slid out from underneath, allowing the locomotive to then be gently lowered onto the rails of its new permanent home.

When asked how he felt to see the locomotive safely in place, Jim laughed and said that he “still feel[s] nervous.”

“It feels pretty good,” he said.

“It's been a big day but worth it. Been a long wait.”

Historical society secretary Gillian Lewis-Shell was pleased to see the operation successfully completed.

“It is just so exciting to actually see it in place, I can't believe it,” she said.

Visitors to the Bundaberg Railway Museum can see the DEL1603 in its new home during museum opening hours, Tuesday, Thursdays and Saturdays.

The museum welcomes interested volunteers to get involved in the restoration of the DEL1603 and other Bundaberg Railway Historical Society activities.

Interested to read more? Keep an eye out for our full-length feature to be published on Monday and delve into the history of this rare engine in next week’s Weekender.

Significance of Hinkler collection recognised

Natasha Harth

Bundaberg’s Hinkler Hall of Aviation was recently recognised for holding and caring for a collection of national and international significance.

The recognition came after the organisation was successful in obtaining a Community Heritage Grant from the National Library of Australia to undertake a Significance Assessment of the collection.

The assessment was aimed at uncovering and identifying the significance of the Hinkler Hall of Aviation Memorabilia Trust collection, held at the Hinkler Hall of Aviation and Hinkler House in the Bundaberg Botanic Gardens.

Hinkler Hall of Aviation staff were joined by Queensland Museum Network’s Senior Museum Development Officer Elspeth Hocking who provided specialist skills and analysis to complete the assessment report.

During a site visit to the Hinkler Hall of Aviation earlier this year, Elspeth viewed a range of objects from the 5,000 strong collection that staff felt were most significant, as well as a summary of the collection to identify other items of potential importance.

Elspeth found that the Hinkler Hall of Aviation collection, with its strong focus on the life and achievements of Bert Hinkler, had multiple layers of significance.

“The Hinkler Hall of Aviation Memorabilia Trust Collection at Hinkler Hall of Aviation is a highly focused and extremely well managed collection,” she said.

“The collection has local, regional, and state significance due to the historical significance of the collection, the rarity of certain collection areas, the connection with local community and events, and its high interpretative potential.

“Elements of the collection have national and international significance given their connections to wider Australian stories, and the impact Bert had on international aviation history during his career in the United Kingdom.

“The collection brings together local stories and connections to Bundaberg, while also drawing in national and international stories given the breadth of Bert’s career.”

A key recommendation from the assessment was that the Hinkler Hall of Aviation seek a conservation assessment for fragile and significant items that are at risk from environmental factors.

Having successfully completed the Significance Assessment, the Hinkler Hall of Aviation is now able to apply for a Preservation Needs Assessment, which will provide specialist conservation advice.

Bundaberg Regional Council’s Arts, Culture and Events portfolio spokesperson Cr John Learmonth said having the know-how to carefully preserve and care for the collection is vital.

“The overall aim is to share this history with present and future generations, ensuring the story of Bert Hinkler does not go untold.

“If key items from the collection deteriorate over time it is impossible to share this important history.” Items identified as those most in need of immediate preservation include textiles, a selection of ladies dresses from circa 1928, strip maps, photographic glass negatives and an original film reel.”

Local ag sector second in state for growth

Ashley Schipper

Bundaberg has been highlighted as the second fastest growing agricultural region in Queensland, with sugar, fruit and vegetable industries expanding exponentially in the 2022-23 financial year.

It comes as the latest AgTrends data was recently released showcasing the state's agriculture and fisheries sector breaking another record valuation of $23.44 billion.

The new high for the financial year eclipses the previous record of $23.37 billion in 2021-22.

Bundaberg was described as a “major success story” by the State Government upon the release of the data, with the region having some of the best performing commodities for both size and fastest growth of Gross Value Production in Queensland.

The region has also come in third for GVP ($837 million) and second for growth of GVP, up 10.1%.

The report states sugarcane and sugar processing reached a combined valuation of almost $2.5 billion across the nation.

Among the strongest growing commodities were Queensland’s world-class fresh produce, with apples, table grapes, pineapples, avocados, and bananas all in the top 10 for growth.

Promising signs in region’s fast-growing agricultural sectors:

Sugar: Three years ago, sugar production in the Wide Bay Region had fallen by 14%. In 2023 sugar growers are producing to a healthy market and will be buoyed by renewed viability coming into the crushing season.

Cattle: While cattle prices have been easing since January 2023, the region’s often-underestimated livestock producers have been a great contributor to regional Gross Value Product (GVP) over the past medium term.

Macadamias: While macadamia growers have seen prices drop to a 10-year low, prices are stabilising, and plantings continue.

Berries: Non-traditional agricultural enterprises, such as berry production, are innovating and expanding in the region. New varieties are coming online allowing growers to produce out of season, and at the high end of the market.

New stats good news for region’s producers

CEO of Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers Bree Grima said it was good news for the region's producers.

“We’re really proud but not surprised by these figures, we’ve seen massive growth in the region over the last couple of years and many of those new plantings are just coming into harvest which has helped increase the regional value,” she said.

“We know agriculture is one of the largest employment industries in the region and whether you’re directly employed working on farm or you have a business that has farmers as customers we all share in the economic prosperity of the sector.”

Ms Grima said the data also highlighted why water security was so vital to the Bundaberg Region.

“Without reliable water we can’t continue to be the largest growing region in Australia for sweet potatoes, chilli, passionfruit and macadamias and contribute to the central Queensland region which is the largest growing region by size for avocados,” she said.

“We look forward to increased growth in coming years due to the progressive nature of our farmers.”

Diversity and resilience underpins second fastest agricultural region

Mayor Jack Dempsey congratulated those in the industry on the report’s findings.

“The agricultural sector in the Bundaberg Region continues to prosper and grow,” he said.

“This continuing vigour and adaptation of the local agricultural sector reflects the resilience inherent to our producers.

“This is further testament to the great diversity in agricultural production in our region which captures benefit across the majority of the growth ag enterprises.”

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities Mark Furner said Bundaberg was one of many regions across the state experiencing exceptional growth.

“Queensland’s produce is world-class, so it’s no surprise our state’s ag sector is breaking records,” he said.

“Despite challenges presented by COVID and floods, our agribusinesses continue to go from strength to strength.”

The latest Queensland AgTrends data is available here.

Doris celebrates 100th birthday

Emma Orford

Bundaberg local Doris Royan celebrated her 100th birthday last week with a special party at BlueCare’s Argyle Gardens.

The village staff hosted the celebration for Doris, her family and fellow residents which included an impressive birthday cake, flowers and the gift of a personalised penny with her birth date stamped on it.

She also enjoyed a more intimate celebration lunch with her family last Sunday.

Doris was born in Bundaberg on 5 July 1923 as one of nine children.

After staying home to help her mother nurse her brothers back to health after they had served in the war, Doris met her husband Jim and together they ran a cane and dairy farm in Sharon.

Doris was a dedicated member of both the Dorcas Society and the Women’s Guild and after she and Jim retired from farm life and moved to North Bundaberg, she enjoyed gardening and even had her own fernery.

Doris’ niece Shirly Rendall said she made the move to Argyle Gardens following the 2013 floods.

“My uncle passed away thirty years ago due to ill health and Doris lived in their house over North,” Shirly said.

“In 2013 her house flooded.

"She went to bed and woke up with water everywhere, guys in boats had to go rescue her.

"She was helicoptered to me a few days later on this side of the river.

“It was all fixed but she lived with me fore a while because she didn’t feel safe going back and so she decided to go to Arglye not thinking she’d still be there ten years later!”

Shirly visits her aunt three times a week for a catch up and said she still looks after some of the ferns from her fernery and enjoys watching tennis, football and cricket.

“She’s a big Broncos supporter,” Shirly said.

“We normally have a cup of tea and a bickie and talk about how our weeks have been.

“I’ve got two granddaughters, so I keep her updated on family stuff and the gossip!”

When asked how best to describe her aunt, Shirly had one word.

“Stubborn,” she laughed.

“But she’s the kind of lady who would help anybody.

“If you need it she’d always be there to give you a hand.”

What's on

CQUni students produce local television show


CQU Digital Media students have produced their very own television show, The Filmmakers Journey, now premiering on Wide Bay ITV.

A creative collaboration between the two organisations, the series is driving inspiring conversations about filmmaking in the region while showcasing plenty of local talent.

The new engaging series was entirely produced by a group of talented local students.

The Film and Television Masterclass in Bundaberg was a two-day intensive workshop for CQU Bachelor of Digital Media students, led by experienced filmmaker and producer Phillip Harris.

Coordinated by CQUniversity Digital Media lecturer Regina John Luan, the sessions tapped into considerable talent of the student cohort, and the final results are live now on WideBay ITV.

Ms Luan said the highlight of masterclass was the creation of the studio interview series titled The Filmmakers Journey.

Episode one features successful young Hervey Bay filmmaker and CQU alumnus David Pierson, interviewed by Timothy Blackwell, with future episodes to feature industry veterans Phillip Harris, David Quarrell, Warren Duxbury, and emerging talents Joshua Furnish and Benjamin White.

Ms Luan commended all students involved, including first-year Bundaberg local Amanda Rule who took on video editor duties.

“Amanda juggled her studies and WideBay ITV work with commitments as a mother of four, and we saw her passion for media really reawaken,” Ms Luan said.

Amanda said her pathway to the degree began with a self-taught passion for photography and photo-editing.

“As I got good with Photoshop I decided I wanted to do something with media, and in 2012 I decided to [enrol in] (CQU pathway program) STEPS,” she explained.

A serious medical situation in the family meant a decade of full-time caring, but Amanda finally returned to CQU this year.

“I am back doing what I love – learning new things!” she said.

“The lecturers are lovely and so helpful, and I didn't think I would enjoy doing digital video and audio editing but it has surprised me.”

First-year student Trinity Darrow, 18, stepped up to present an episode, and also took production manager and director roles.

The Gayndah local, who travels two hours each way to attend classes, said she chose the Bachelor of Digital Media for its practical, industry-connected content, and the masterclass had been a highlight.

Ms Luan commended Trinity for embracing the “transformative opportunity”.

Ms Luan said the masterclass experience highlighted students’ talent and dedication, and encouraged people to tune into The Filmmakers Journey, and be inspired by their creativity and passion for storytelling.

Wide Bay ITV launched in 2022, and is a video on demand and stream service from experienced Australian television identity Philip Harris.

Based in West Bundaberg, the studio initiative aims to put regional content creation back in the hands of regional people.

Watch the first episode of The Filmmakers Journey here.

Applications are open now for CQU’s Bachelor of Digital Media, to start in Term 2 2023 or Term 1 2024.

The course is available on campus in Bundaberg over three years full-time or six years part-time.

Explore Digital Media here.  

TAFE students serve and sample Taste of success


With the Taste Bundaberg Festival just around the corner, some of TAFE Queensland East Coast’s best and brightest students are ready to serve up their finest wares and dish out their talent to share with the local community.

Keen to showcase the skills and training they’ve gained through their hard work and dedication, the students are looking forward to a taste of their own success.

Nearly twenty hospitality, cookery, and tourism students, who are currently training at TAFE Queensland East Coast’s Bundaberg and Hervey Bay campuses, will get the opportunity to work alongside celebrity chefs and experience the real thing.

Faculty Director of Service Industries Emma Cook said the Taste Bundaberg Festival not only celebrated the talent of TAFE Queensland students but also provided them a fantastic opportunity to get first-hand experience on how things are done in the hospitality industry.

“This event will enable our hospitality students to learn and directly engage with industry experts by helping with all bar services, making cocktails, serving customers, setting up and packing down of displays – all of which will add immense value and practical experience to their training,” Emma said.

“Students will participate in activities that will help them understand the dynamics of the hospitality environment and get a taste of what it’s like to work in this industry.”

“By taking part in the Taste event, students are able to get a front row seat to the workings of industry professionals and be exposed to current trends, mentors and potential employment opportunities – a great outcome that aligns with the approach of our training and education.”

For their participation, students will be recognised with appreciation certificates from Bundaberg Regional Council.

This year, students will be supporting The Whole Feast with Colin Fassnidge, held under giant Nordic tipis on Saturday 12 August in Jayteens Park, Bargara.

Other Council events that TAFE Queensland students get the opportunity to be involved in through their course include State of Origin local events, the National Rugby League’s Dolphins and Bulldogs game, Childers Festival and Milbi Festival.

Find out more about TAFE Queensland’s hospitality and tourism courses online.

Taste Bundaberg Festival runs from 4 to 13 August, with tickets now on sale.

Bucca Hall community focal point since 1906


The Bucca Hall has been providing the community with a large space to meet for just shy of 120 years.

Established in 1906, the hall came about more than a decade after the settlement of the Bucca district in the 1880s.

It was preceded by the development of the Invicta sugar mill in 1895 and the first school in 1890.

As highlighted in Bundaberg Regional Council's Local Heritage Places, Bucca Hall was established under the direction of a building committee which oversaw its construction and the tender for its erection.

The land on which the hall is located was originally a holding and landing reserve, presumably associated with the nearby Bucca Crossing.

It was then gazetted as a recreational reserve.

Pressure lamps, probably using kerosene, were installed in 1923 and the hall was converted to electricity in 1955.

A kitchen, ladies’ room and verandah – which was eventually closed in – were added to the hall and the hall extended over its lifetime.

The hall, as with most public spaces, became the focal point of community and cultural activities.

It was used for church services and Sunday School as well as dances and picture shows.

The grounds of the hall also became a sporting venue.

Football was played from the 1920s until World War II, as well as cricket, tennis and annual athletics events.

The sporting events drew teams from surrounding districts, including Bucca, Yandaran, Avondale, Invicta and Rosedale.

The gazettal of the recreation reserve and the opening of the hall clearly marked a watershed in the development of the Bucca community and further illustrated the significance of the Invicta sugar mill to the economic prosperity and development of the district.

Honour Boards for the district’s soldiers from World War I and II were installed in the front of the hall.

Bucca Hall is located on the southern side of the Kolan River on a 2.6 hectares triangular block.

It is bordered by the Bucca Crossing Road in the east, Longs Road in the south and farmland to the west.

Bucca Hall is important in demonstrating the evolution of the region’s history.

The hall reflects the closer settlement of the Bucca district and its growing population at the time the hall was constructed, stimulated in particular by the importance of the nearby Invicta sugar mill.

The hall also demonstrates the pattern of the region's history, particularly the establishment of community halls in rural communities as focal point for social and cultural activities.

Explore our Region: Riverview Park

In Our Group with Bundaberg Bushwalking Club

Explore the breathtaking wonders of nature and meet like-minded people with Bundaberg Bushwalking Club.

Bundaberg Bushwalking Club secretary Alison Webb shares information about the group of local enthusiasts who enjoy escaping from the hustle and bustle of modern life in the great outdoors.

Tell us about Bundaberg Bushwalking Club?

The club offers a schedule of walks held fortnightly, generally on a Sunday, in the surrounding areas including Mt Perry, 1770, Biggenden and Maryborough.

The club has 100 members and on any average walk there could be between 2 and 20 people participating.

Bundaberg Bushwalking Club is open to all ages with an easy and hard option offered.

During the hotter months the walks ease off.

Specific interest areas such as kayaking, bike riding, overnight walks and camping are also available - subject to members' interests. 

There is also a group of members who continue to meet for social outings once a month which includes an optional walk.

Why is the group important to the Bundaberg Region?

The club offers people the opportunity to get to know the region, explore areas off the beaten track and meet like-minded people.

Being a part of the club gives some people more security in walking in a group and allows people to build their confidence and bushwalking experience before heading off on solo adventures.

If there are any landholders that would be happy to share their patch of paradise and let the club have access, we’d love to hear from them! Having new places to explore is brilliant.

What’s the history of Bundaberg Bushwalking Club?

Bundaberg Bushwalking Club was formed in 1984 by Richard Gear, who is now a life member, following suggestions that a bushwalking club would be of benefit to the community.

The club was incorporated and is affiliated with Bushwalking Queensland.

Any significant events during the year and how can the community become involved?

Over the May long weekend we combine with the Gladstone and Capricornia Bushwalkers for a camp, alternating between the areas.

Anyone can join the Bundaberg Bushwalking Club but children need to be accompanied by an adult.

The club has a strong social element so if you want to reach the top of the mountain in the least amount of time then the club is not for you.

However, if you like stopping to take photos, admire the views, (that’s an excuse for catching your breath when climbing said mountain!), appreciate nature, learn from others while sharing ideas then the club is perfect.

Assistance dogs are welcome on lead, but no other dogs are allowed.

When and where do you meet?

Bundaberg Bushwalking Club holds monthly meetings, throughout February to November, at Bundaberg State High School on the first Tuesday of the month at 6 pm.

Annual membership fee is $20 per person which includes all your activities, if carpooling a contribution to the driver’s costs is made.

Visitors can attend a few walks before joining at $5 per walk.

For more information about Bundaberg Bushwalking Club follow them on Facebook or click here.   

How to find community events

Pros, locals pair up for Bargara Pro-Am

Natasha Harth

Dozens of golf pros and some of the region’s best amateurs descended on Bargara this week to compete in the Bargara Golf Club Legends Pro-Am.

Held over two days on 11-12 July, the competition saw 71 professional players paired with sponsors and amateurs to compete for $25,000 in prize money as part of the Australian Legends tour.

Among the pros competing this year was Nigel Lane, who completed his traineeship with Bargara Golf Club in the early 1990s.

Nigel went on to play at a professional level, and coached golf around the world.

“I did two years here with Norm Holtz, he was the professional at the time,” Nigel said.

“He taught me a lot about the game, that my short game needed to be up to scratch or up to par like all the best players in the world.”

Nigel said the Australian Legends tour was a high-quality tour in which to compete.

“This is a great tour to play, so many awesome golfers that we play against,” Nigel said.

“We've got Andre Stolz, I think who won today, I mean he's won on the US tour.

“There's Marcus Cain who played today, I think he won the 99 or 98 Australian PGA.

“There’s Tim Eliott who I played with yesterday, he won two times in three weeks in like 1998 as well.

“There's a lot of really good players here.

“I think I finished third today so I'm a little disappointed with the way I finished, but it’s not all bad.”

Joining the pros were local players Neil Curd from Bargara and Scott Warren from Gin Gin.

Both enjoyed the opportunity to test their talents against the pros, as well as picking up any tips they could.

“I come to try and see how good I could go against the pros,” Scott said.

“It was good yesterday, not so good today.

“[The pros show you] where to attack and where not to attack, that sort of thing, but then you got to try and emulate what they do.”

The event this year was organised by Bargara Golf Club Ladies Captain Michelle Marsden, after the retirement of long-term pro Phil Curd.

Michelle said the club was pleased to welcome new sponsors to this year’s event.

“We had Neta Home and Commercial, Rum City Foods became a major sponsor, Chic’s Pies and Kalki Moon,” she said.

“A lot of our other sponsors stayed on board, so it was good.”