Weekender: Ruby named Speed Queen ambassador

Solar installations part of net zero strategy

Megan Dean

As part of its commitment to move Towards Net Zero Bundaberg Regional Council has allocated funds in its 2023/24 budget for solar installations.

Council facilities to be included in the solar installation project include the Hinkler Hall of Aviation and the Bundaberg administration centre.

Located within the Bundaberg Botanic Gardens, the Hinkler Hall of Aviation is a popular tourism facility which celebrates the life and achievements of famous pioneer aviator Bert Hinkler.

Preliminary estimates for the project anticipate a 75 kW capacity system will be needed for the hall which is estimated to save $18,500 in energy costs in the first year alone.

The Bundaberg administration centre, located on Bourbong Street, is estimated to require a 40 kW solar capacity with an estimated first-year energy saving of $8700.

Mayor Jack Dempsey said the solar installations were a positive move for both the environment and Council’s bottom line.

“All up we expect the Hinkler Hall of Aviation and Bundaberg administration centre solar systems will account for over $27,000 in savings in the first year alone,” Mayor Dempsey said.

“Following changes last year to Federal and State Government legislation it’s important that Bundaberg Regional Council act as a leader for our region as the country and the world makes a push to net zero.

“While this is a long-term goal for our community, having a plan to achieve net zero is essential with the cost to communities who fail to act becoming clearer all the time.”

The buildings aren’t the first Council assets to be part of a solar installation initiative with facilities including the Multiplex and Rubyanna Wastewater Treatment Plant already harnessing the power of the sun.

They were identified as priority projects following a detailed solar feasibility assessment of 25 Council sites.

Mayor Dempsey said this work had formed the basis on which the two facilities were selected this financial year and will also inform future solar investment.

“While no other solar installations have been budgeted for at this stage, Council is committed to investigating more opportunities in future,” he said.

“The next Council facility we will investigate is the expansion of the popular Multiplex venue’s solar installation.

“It already has a 100 kW system in place but we anticipate we could save an additional $5000 in energy costs annually if we upgrade that system.

“It will be among the future projects we look to support.”

Find out more about Council’s Towards Net Zero strategy on the website.

Ruby a Speed Queen on race track

Ashley Schipper

Passionate Bundaberg kart racer Ruby Attard has been named a Speed Queens Australia Ambassador and will use the role to support women in the sport.

Speed Queens Australia is made up of a community of women from right around the nation and has a mission to empower others within the industry through a successful ambassador program.

Ruby, 14, has been racing for just under two years in the junior class and said she was thrilled to be crowned ambassador for 2023.

“My role is to help promote the involvement in motorsport for women by encouraging the sport to everyone,” she said.

With racing running in her family's blood, Ruby said it wasn't hard to find her own love for the sport.

“My background with speedway racing is that my uncle and cousin were first involved and then my brother started racing karts,” she said.

“I was always watching and helping so I decided to give it a try.

“I love the feeling of going fast and all the friends I have made from this experience.”

Ruby has won multiple trophies and boards over her time in the sport, but said her biggest achievement was when she was crowned Most Improved Open-Wheeled Junior Driver for the Maryborough club that she often trains with.

She said her new role as Speed Queens Ambassador would provide opportunities to further her racing skills while passing on her own knowledge to others.

“I am most excited about trying to attract more girls into the sport!” she said.

Find out more about Speed Queens Australia here.

RFDS Bundaberg simulator on track to launch


Construction of the new Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) (Queensland Section) world-class aviation training facility in Bundaberg is on track with the development now just over half complete.

The new facility, constructed by local tradespeople, is located adjacent to the existing RFDS Bundaberg Base and will house the only Beechcraft King Air Pro Line Fusion Full-Flight Simulator (FFS) in Australia. 

Once built and operational, RFDS pilots from across Queensland will spend at least two weeks at the training facility each year, while non-RFDS pilots will also be able to use the simulator for their endorsements or recurrent training on King Air B350/360 aircraft.

The $25.3 million facility is jointly funded with $14.9 million from the Australian Government and $3 million from QCoal Foundation, while the land the facility is being built on has been donated by Bundaberg Regional Council.

RFDS is financing the remainder of the project through fundraising.

RFDS (Queensland Section) General Manager Aviation Peter Elliott said construction of the new building to house the simulator was continuing with completion still on track for the end of the year.

“We’ve had a busy, but successful last few months which included our Flight Standards Pilot David Falk travelling to the United States to put the new simulator through its paces,” Peter said.

“David reported back that it ticked all the required boxes for this stage of the build and we’re now preparing to ship it to Australia within the next couple of months.

“Within RFDS Queensland, we have about 60 pilots who will be commencing their training through this training centre.

“Simulation training is exceptionally important in the aviation environment and it allows for safer training and better outcomes for that training.

“It is a CASA requirement to utilise simulators for your type of aircraft if they're in the country where you're operating.”

The facility is being constructed by Bundaberg company Murchie Constructions.

Murchie Construction Project Manager Joel Brimelow said the team was proud to be involved as they understood what the facility would mean to the Bundaberg Region.

“In any one day it can be from 10 to 30 different trades and all our trade base is locally sourced which we pride ourselves on, keeping things local in the community,” Joel said.

“The facility includes the main simulator hall, workshop areas, training rooms, offices, staff rooms, amenities and a front reception.”

Managing Director Andrew Murchie said the team had been working tirelessly to create a high standard construction that will deliver on the vision for a world-class, technological advanced building.

“We know the positive economic impact a facility like this can have on the Bundaberg region and as a local, family-owned business, we’re committed to ensuring we do our bit to support the RFDS,” he said. 

To find out more about the RFDS click here.

Celebrations kick off for defence academy

Toni Schuch

Three-time Guinness World Record holder Master Robert Ardito will celebrate another career milestone when Ardito Defence Academy Bundaberg turns 20.

Commemorating two decades of teaching his students the Kung Fu way, Master Robert and members of the academy plan to open their martial arts school to the general public in October.

A meet and greet incorporating an informative tour will give insights into its history, with Master Robert sharing his martial arts journey.

“My personal journey with Kung Fu started in the 90s with a gentleman called Chris Fan who trained me in traditional Wing Chun Kung Fu,” he said.

Robert Ardito, Guinness World Record holder

Master Robert continued his intensive training with other Kung Fu Masters which led to him achieving three Guinness World Records for the Most Full Contact Punches In One Minute.

“I broke the Guinness World record three times appearing in both the Guinness Book of Records 2012 and the Australian Book of Records,” he said.

“I held the record from 2005 to 2019.”

Master Robert initially broke the record for the first time with 428 punches and then later with 702 punches before finally totalling 805 punches.

After many hours of teaching traditional Kung Fu to numerous private students, Master Robert then established the Ardito Defence Academy.

A.D.A. is a unique simple and practical self defence system, with a handful of principles created for students to defend themselves.

“Teaching daily, I knew that the students using traditional Kung Fu methods would struggle to defend themselves against new modern-day fighters trained in the popular MMA (Mixed Martial Arts),” he said.

Master Robert designed A.D.A for men, women and children who would like to learn self-defence without relying on speed, strength or physical force.

“In the A.D.A system, tension creates weakness, softness equals strength and focus creates power,” he said.

The academy allows students to sharpen their reflexes, improve focus and increase confidence in a safe, welcoming environment.

Located at 88 George Street, the A.D.A. Bundaberg head office has been the heart and support for all the A.D.A. schools, teaching hundreds of students over the last two decades.

The A.D.A. open day will be held between 11 am and 2 pm on Saturday 7 October.

Find out more about the group and how to attend on the Facebook page here.

Branyan Retreat Bed and Breakfast reopens

Toni Schuch

A well-known Branyan building's history as a homestead, museum, teahouse and venue has been shared as new owners reopen the bed and breakfast.

Branyan Retreat Bed and Breakfast is located on Branyan Drive and is familiar to many locals, with its two authentic pioneer timber slab huts overlooking the scenic Burnett River.

Since 2020, during the Covid pandemic, the property closed and remained unoccupied.

Now, as its new host, Sue Barletta is excited to provide a unique space for visitors to enjoy.

“Branyan Retreat Bed and Breakfast is a unique accommodation experience,” Sue said.

Guests can stay in authentic pioneer huts offering all the essential comforts and modern conveniences.

Each hut can accommodate one couple with a queen bed, kitchenette, lounge room, bathroom and veranda.

Wagons, a windmill, and old farm implements add to the rustic atmosphere throughout its lush gardens

Sue said Branyan Retreat Bed and Breakfast had stood the test of time and had an interesting history.

“It was originally part of land holdings at Branyan owned by Bundaberg’s first Mayor, Walter Adams, from 1875 to 1884, and a homestead was built in 1887,” she said.

“The property changed hands a number of times and was owned by George Bock (after whom Bock’s Road was named) or his family, from 1925 to 1973.”

Three authentic pioneer slab huts were transported from the surrounding area to the homestead in 1973 when the Chapman family bought the property.

Under the Chapman family ownership, the huts were opened to the public as the Blue Anchor pioneer museum, featuring furnishings and personal items dating back to the nineteenth century.

It was renamed Birra-Barra in 1976, when acquired by Ian and Margaret Michael,  who continued to operate it as a museum, teahouse and facility for hire.

“Some of the local schools arranged excursions to the museum so students could view the huts and appreciate part of the life and times of the early pioneers,” Sue said.

Subsequently a third of the property was subdivided in 1980 and sold to new owners, the Devlin family.

Noel Devlin restored the historic slab huts to accommodate guests and the Branyan Retreat Bed and Breakfast evolved.

Sue said she was thrilled to have the opportunity to open the pioneer huts once more, providing guests with a comfortable, relaxing alternative to a motel room or unit.

View the website for more information here.

Under 8s Day at Bargara State School

Toni Schuch

Bargara State School is hosting a unique Under Eights Week event celebrating this year’s theme “PLAY – You, me and our communities”.

The school invites all children under eight and their parents, within or outside the Bargara State School community, to explore and participate in fun and educational activities on Thursday 10 August from 9 am to noon.

Bargara State School Under 8’s co-ordinator, Maggie Theobald said play was an important part of a child’s development and the event highlighted just that.

“Research has shown a strong link between creative play and physical, cognitive, language and social development,” she said.

“This year we have a variety of physical, sensory, technology, arts and craft and calming activities on offer to cater for the diverse strengths and likes of children.”

Activities on the day include obstacle courses, bubble blowing, cricket, football drills, lifeguard beach games, face painting, coloured hair spray and messy play.

There will also be crown-making, necklace making and stencils, nature and loose part play, First Nation craft, robotics, yoga, musical instruments, dress ups, home corner, sand art, recyclable craft and more.

The SES, local fire services, police and ambulance will be in attendance, allowing children to dress up in their uniforms and explore the inside of the emergency vehicles.

“Children will be encouraged to choose their own adventure and explore the variety of activities at their own pace throughout the morning,” Maggie said.

“This event not only promotes play through community integration, but it also gives community members and families the opportunity to come along and see Bargara State School and meet some of our wonderful staff and see students in action.”

What's on

Gin Gin veterans connect over a coffee

Natasha Harth

Gin Gin RSL Sub Branch is encouraging veterans to connect over a coffee at weekly Veterans Coffee and Catch-up events.

The gathering is held every Thursday at 10 am at Gin Gin Rest Area on the Bruce Highway to accommodate as many veterans as possible.

The group also aims to attract the attention of passing travellers who are welcome to join the social banter and have a few laughs.

Gin Gin RSL Sub Branch President Marc Falt said the program offered an opportunity for veterans and their families to get together and get to know each other better.

“I wanted to start this program to connect veterans and families within the wider community in an informal setting,” Marc said.

“It allows partners of veterans to come together and share their experiences and offers an outlet to other people who understand the issues faced by veterans and their families.”

Regular attendees include veterans from all Australian Defence Force branches and some overseas military forces, including British and New Zealand veterans, with younger veterans from more recent military campaigns also coming along.

Veterans are supported at the catch-up by Gin Gin RSL Sub Branch Health and Wellbeing Officer Darren Prouse and members of the Executive Committee.

Darren said the Coffee and Catch-up program was more social than the formal monthly RSL meeting.

“The conversations go really well because we are such a diverse mixture of Army, Navy, Air Force, and Merchant Navy,” Darren said.

“They will tell you things because they know you understand.

“We’re not there to be officially RSL, we’re just there to be part of our community, to have a coffee and talk, let the conversation flow.”

Veterans attending the Coffee and Catch-up can purchase a coffee from a coffee vendor on site, with attendees regularly bringing homemade baked goods to share and homegrown produce to swap.

The success of the program has led to plans for future collaborations between Gin Gin and Isis RSL Sub Branches, aimed at further strengthening the organisation’s connection with the community.

Science Together celebrates Reef Guardians

Emma Orford

Local schools, businesses, community and environmental organisations will gather this month to celebrate 20 years of the Reef Guardian School program with Science Together.

The event, hosted by Reef Guardian Schools in conjunction with Bundaberg Regional Council and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), takes place at the Multiplex on 14 August which also marks the beginning of National Science Week.

Students will showcase their environmental projects and interests alongside an impressive line-up of speakers includes world-renowned scientist Dr Jordan Nguyen.

Event coordinator Judith Stutchbury said the idea behind the event was for regional students to celebrate science in support of the Reef Guardian School program.

“We are very fortunate to be living on a global treasure in our Bundaberg Region – we have the Great Barrier Reef and the endangered loggerhead nesting and hatching turtles on our doorstep,” Judith said.

“There is so much science and fascination at our fingertips and it is so engaging for students.

“Regional students don’t often get the chance to experience these speakers and come together at many conventions, so we created Reef Together in 2018 and now Science Together in 2023.”

The event will be open to the public between 3 pm and 4 pm where visitors can engage with the exhibitions on display and see what projects schools are involved in.

“The aim is to share ideas and inspire others,” Judith said, adding that displays would include ideas around recycling, nude food and energy efficiency.

Reef Guardians is a stewardship program started by the GBRMPA in 2003 which recognises the good environmental work undertaken by schools, communities and industries to protect the reef.

“The program involves working closely with those who use and rely on the reef, or its catchment, for recreation or business, to help build a healthier and more resilient reef,” Judith said.

“The program demonstrates that a hands-on, community-based approach can make a real difference to the health and resilience of the reef.

“Reef Guardians are taking on voluntary actions beyond what is required by law and sharing information. 

“These actions will help to improve the economic sustainability of industries operating in the Great Barrier Reef region and ensure the environmental sustainability of the Marine Park.”

Reef Guardian Council

Mayor Jack Dempsey said Bundaberg Regional Council was proud to be a Reef Guardian Council, working together with local schools to spread awareness about the Great Barrier Reef.

“The Bundaberg Region has a very important role in caring for, protecting and supporting our surrounding reef,” Mayor Dempsey said.

“With the largest concentration of nesting marine turtles on the eastern Australian mainland, and the most significant loggerhead turtle nesting population in the South Pacific region right in our backyard, the reef is a fundamental part of our identity.”

Council’s commitment includes activities centred around stormwater management, litter reduction, waterway clean-ups, reducing the glow, a net zero target and carbon reduction at waste facilities.

“We also achieved Eco Destination Certification earlier this year which is supporting the local tourism industry to tap into a multi-million-dollar industry while protecting and celebrating our natural attractions,” Mayor Dempsey said.

“Our community has a passionate and very strong connection with the reef and with the help of local Reef Guardian Schools, together we are making it our mission to protect this natural wonder of the world that sits right on our doorstep.”

Science Together will celebrate 20 years of Reef Guardian Schools on 14 August at the Bundaberg Multiplex, 1 Civic Avenue.

History of former Queensland National Bank


The history of Bundaberg is intertwined with the story of its financial institutions, particularly the Queensland National Bank.

Erected in 1887, the former Queensland National Bank building played a crucial role in the town's financial and government facilities, and its involvement in the sugar industry set it apart from other banking institutions.

It is listed among Bundaberg Regional Council's Local Heritage Places.

The bank was the third to establish premises in Bundaberg and came after the Bank of New South Wales and the Commercial Bank.

Its construction on the corner of Quay and Targo Streets was a testament to its prominence in the growing town.

Designed by the renowned Queensland architect, FDG Stanley, the bank's building symbolised the financial aspirations and prosperity of the region in the late 19th century.

The Queensland National Bank's significance went beyond conventional banking operations.

Unlike other financial institutions, it actively involved itself in the sugar industry, establishing deep connections with its commercial aspects.

This distinctive approach set it apart, making it a pillar of the sugar industry in Bundaberg.

The bank's involvement in the sugar industry became further evident through strategic acquisitions.

After the death of Robert Cran, the bank assumed ownership of the Millaquin Sugar Mill in 1896, along with the Doolbi and Yengari juice mills.

Furthermore, the bank acquired the Mon Repos plantation and mill, renaming it Qunaba, taking inspiration from its own initials.

The Waterview and Oakwood plantations were also purchased, solidifying the bank's position as a significant player in the sugar industry.

In 1911, the Queensland National Bank took a bold step forward by forming a limited liability company known as the Millaquin Sugar Company.

This move allowed it to exercise more control over the sugar industry's operations and further solidified its influence in the Bundaberg Region.

The prominent corner building still stands proud

The Queensland National Bank's history in Bundaberg remains an essential part of the town's heritage and the building itself, now known as Qunaba House, has been well preserved.

Its role as a financial institution with a vested interest in the sugar industry sets it apart from other banks of its time.

As an architectural gem, the former Queensland National Bank building still stands as a testament to the region's rich history and the town's flourishing trade in the late 19th century.

Photo: The former Queensland National Bank. Photo: Picture Bundaberg, Bundaberg Tourism, donor, 1999, Bundaberg Tourism collection

Explore our Region: Riverview Park

In Our Group with Bundaberg Cycling Club

The Bundaberg Cycling Club hosts training, open track and racing sessions with members encouraging the community to get involved.

Tell us about the Bundaberg Cycling Club?

The Bundaberg Cycling Club's home is the Kevin Brogden Memorial Velodrome in Bundaberg West.

This is where the club, run completely by volunteers, hosts training, open track sessions and track racing on Thursday evenings throughout spring and summer.

In autumn and winter we switch gears to road racing where we host road races and criterium races at various locations throughout the region on Saturday afternoons.

Our home track still gets utilised during this time for junior training, open track sessions and 100 laps sessions.

Who can join the club?

The group is open to anyone who holds or signs up for an AUScycling membership.

We have junior members as young as 5 years old all the way through to masters who are 70 years and above.

People can get involved by contacting the club through Facebook or email.

We have track bikes we hire out for newcomers to give the sport a try without the expense of purchasing a bike.

What events do you hold during the year?

We host the Bundaberg Cycling Spectacular each year.

This is a track racing event for juniors through to masters that is very well received throughout the cycling community.

We have competitors travel from all over Australia and occasionally some from overseas to partake in this event.

This year there will be two action-packed sessions on Friday 24 and Saturday 25 November.

We are also fortunate this year to host the Queensland Masters Criterium on Sunday 26 November following the spectacular.

The Bundaberg Cycling Spectacular is the major fundraising event for the club.

We are always looking to form new partnerships with local businesses and anyone wanting to get involved can contact us through the Bundaberg Cycling Spectacular Facebook page.

How to hire a venue

Atlanta takes cross country in her stride

Toni Schuch

A passionate swimmer all her life, Atlanta Day never had running on her radar until she decided to enter a school cross-country competition.

Now, the 10-year-old is on her way to compete at the National Titles in Canberra.

Atlanta’s competition journey started when she placed first in her age group at this year’s St Marys Catholic Primary School cross-country event.

“This led to being eligible to compete in the try outs for the Bundaberg team,” Atlanta said.

“I placed first at this event and was super excited to hear that I had earnt a day off school to attend the district carnival in Hervey Bay.”

At this carnival, Atlanta placed second behind her new friend and running buddy, Starla.

“We were both selected for the Wide Bay team to compete at the State Cross Country championships on 15 July,” she said.

After this selection, Atlanta officially commenced training with the Next Jenneration Coaching Squad.

The squad is led by local athlete Rebecca Jenner and supports young athletes to qualify for state and national teams.

“On the last day of training, I thanked my running coach Bec Jenner for coaching me for the State tiles as I wasn’t expecting to return the following week,” Atlanta said.

During the State Championships, Atlanta joked with her Mum and Dad about making it to the Canberra nationals.

 “They all laughed it off thinking I had no chance,” she said.

“Some of the words being thrown around were, ‘Atlanta’s a swimmer just having a run, good luck, try your best and have fun’.

“When I crossed the line in sixth place, I was shocked to realise I had made the cut off for the Queensland team to compete at Nationals in Canberra.”

Currently Atlanta is training two days a week with the Next Jenneration Coaching Squad and continues her swimming coaching as well.

For fun she runs with the Elliott Heads Surf Club or with her family at the Saturday morning Parkrun.

“I love sport so much,” Atlanta said.

“I have grown up watching my brother compete across a variety of sports from swimming, surf lifesaving to triathlons.”

Atlanta’s parents have also participated in various sports, encouraging her to be involved in sport, make new friends and have fun.

Atlanta will compete at the National Cross Country Championships in Canberra on Saturday 26 August.