Weekender Molly

Nominations needed to recognise inspiring women

Ashley Schipper

A new Council project aims to honour the inspiring women of the Bundaberg Region through memorials in public spaces, including the possibility of a bronze Statues for Equality monument.

Bundaberg Regional Council is calling for residents to put forward ideas for local women who could be acknowledged in public spaces, from street names to memorials in parks, buildings and other civic facilities.

Mayor Jack Dempsey said the idea had originated from a petition to State Parliament by eight-year-old Malia Knox who called for greater representation of women and girls in public spaces.

“Malia's call for change of gender representation in public spaces is a noble one and something that should have been addressed long ago,” he said.

“Not only does her idea highlight the fact that there is still a large gap in gender equality but is also a reminder of the many amazing women throughout history who have made such a huge impact within communities, small and large.”

Mayor Dempsey said the Bundaberg Region had been home to many inspiring women over the years.

“This includes Margaret Mittelheuser who was the first female stockbroker in Australia or Florence Broadhurst who was a talented designer with her works still sold today,” he said. 

“This project is a chance for the community to not only have their say on other many talented and hardworking women who should be showcased through public memorials, but also offers up an opportunity to learn about our history and the people who have made significant contributions to our community.

“What a fantastic way to inspire the generations to come.”

The ‘Recognising inspiring women in our region' project could also include the implementation of a bronze statue of a local woman, through the generosity of international not-for-profit organisation, Statues for Equality.

The organisation has offered their support to co-fund the memorial, with Council calling on the community for fundraising ideas to assist with the project.

To find out how you can become involved, or to submit your idea, click here.

Ian and Barb pass on the Snakes Downunder baton

Ashley Schipper

It’s been 15 years of caring for creatures great and small at Snakes Downunder Reptile Park and Zoo but now, owners Ian and Barb Jenkins have hung up their hats and passed on the baton to a new family of animal lovers.

Former Sunshine Coast residents David and Kate Mercieca have taken over the popular Childers facility while the Jenkins look forward to a slower-paced lifestyle.

Ian said the moment was bittersweet for him and his wife, who were not only leaving their zoo life behind but also their home in Childers for a new venture in Brisbane.

“We will miss the zoo; I was born and bred in the region and we are really going to miss the locals who have made our venture so fantastic from the moment we opened 15 years ago,” he said.

“It is time for our next chapter.

“I think after 15 years we have decided that we have taken it as far as we could and we felt that it needed fresh ideas.”

Ian said the zoo had transformed greatly from its humble beginnings when it was originally operated as a snake demonstration show venue three days a week.

“The establishment of the zoo came about after a chain of events,” he said.

“I was the local snake catcher for 35 years and I kept my own snakes as a hobby.

“A friend of mine talked me into taking my snakes to the local school for a demonstration and that was successful, so we decided to travel around to other schools to do shows.”

Ian said he then set up a proper venue for people to visit and watch the snake demonstrations instead of travelling but when government rules changed, so did the purpose of Snakes Downunder.  

“Because we were not a mobile operation, we could no longer have a demonstrators license so we got a zoo license instead,” he said.

“Our little zoo suddenly grew from just snakes and lizards to saltwater crocodiles, which have been our biggest attraction.

“From there we introduced turtles, frogs, kangaroos and koalas and then we got some exotic animals such as the meerkats, long-nosed tree kangaroos and Komodo dragons.”

Ian said he was thankful to have found the Mercieca family, who were passionate about keeping the zoo going and adding their own flair.

“We originally put the zoo on the market to see if there was interest and found David and Kate to be a great fit,” he said.

“They are very knowledgeable, driven and are excited to take the zoo to the next level.

“The same great staff will be kept on, as that was a condition of the sale, and they are very keen to work with David and Kate on what’s to come.”

Ian said while he would be slowing down and enjoying a very different life in Brisbane, he would still be making himself available to the Mercieca family whenever they needed a helping hand.

He said he was proud of what his zoo had transformed into over the years and how he, Barb and his staff constantly had the opportunity to learn from others.

“Being members of the Zoo and Aquarium Association has definitely been an amazing part about it all and has allowed us to become involved in breeding programs with Australia Zoo, including with our Komodo dragons.

“We even had Robert Irwin and his team visit us a few months ago and it was a really fantastic experience, he is such a knowledgeable young man.

“Virtually everything about the zoo has been a highlight for us.”

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New radiation therapy machine named Mee-Bar Miggi

Emma Reid

In celebration of NAIDOC week, local Indigenous elder and artist Byron Broome officially unveiled GenesisCare’s new radiation therapy treatment machine, Mee-Bar Miggi, with a naming ceremony.

Since launching the machine GenesisCare has been able to treat up to 80 patients a day with minimal wait lists, providing local cancer patients with rapid access to the latest treatments and techniques.

The new machine is named Mee-Bar Miggi, which represents the spirit of the salt-water turtle. This ties in with the name of GenesisCare’s first machine, Mon Repos, which is named after the breeding area of the local turtles in Bundaberg.

To celebrate Bundaberg’s rich Indigenous culture, GenesisCare commissioned Indigenous artist Byron Broome and his daughter Nikkiya, to create paintings, titled Burral the Creator, for the patient wait area at GenesisCare.

Byron said the collection of four paintings tell the story from the beginning, starting with the sun and the moon, through to creation, and healing which was fitting for the GenesisCare centre, before finishing with the painting of Mee-Bar, which represents a saltwater turtle's life cycle.

Byron said he felt very honoured to be asked to create an artwork that displayed his Bunda people’s culture and history.  

“Our Mee-Bar, a saltwater turtle that travels all over the world, but there is only one place he comes back to, and the mother Mee-Bar always comes back home to Bundaberg,” Byron said.

“The reason for us Bunda people, when we see that Mee-Bar come back in, it’s the recycle and the reunion of our land.

“The cycle continues all the way back to Bundaberg, and we come back to our main sign back in the middle (of the fourth painting), and GenesisCare is doing exactly the same thing, that we have been doing way back, and healing our people.”

Bundaberg’s GenesisCare centre opened in 2018 as part of a public-private partnership with Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service to increase access to world-class cancer care for both public and private patients in the region.

GenesisCare Bundaberg unit leader Chris David said they began treating patients with the new machine earlier in the year, and it had already made such a significant difference in terms of wait lists.

“When a patient receives a cancer diagnosis the last thing they want is to have to potentially wait weeks for treatment and it can definitely amplify feelings of anxiety and concern,” he said.

“Our second treatment machine will allow us to expand our stereotactic program to include more tumour streams, meaning patients no longer need to travel to Brisbane or another metropolitan area to access the latest treatments and techniques.”

GenesisCare Bundaberg centre leader Lyn Tate said the new treatment machine, the Elekta Versa HD linear accelerator, had significantly increased the centre's capacity to treat local cancer patients using stereotactic body radiation therapy (SABR); a new high-powered treatment that targets tumours in fewer high dose treatments than traditional therapy.

“Some of the ways we celebrate Indigenous culture here at GenesisCare is through our beautiful artwork and also by naming both our treatment machines after local Indigenous areas of significance,” Lyn said.

“Many of our patients comment on the artwork and the joy it brings them during what is otherwise a very difficult period in their lives.

“NAIDOC Week is an important reminder for us all to live our values of cultural inclusivity and diversity in everything that we do at GenesisCare and also in our private lives.

“The Bundaberg Region and surrounds has a rich Indigenous culture and here at GenesisCare we have always endeavoured to partner with the local Indigenous community to develop culturally inclusive care for our patients.”

Gin Gin Bakery wins 11 awards for pies and pasties

Ashley Schipper

The family-owned and operated Gin Gin Bakery has won a swag of awards at Australia’s Best Pie and Pastie Competition with 11 of their delicious baked goods taking out a spot in the national contest.

From cheese and bacon to curry, mushroom and the delicious meat and veggie pastie, flavours of every variety from the local bakery have been showcased at the recent awards.

Maree Baker took over the business with her daughter and three sons in 2019 and said creating tasty savoury treats was their specialty.

“The boys all work out the back in the kitchen and are the reason for our delicious products,” she said.

“They will often tweak the recipes to create something extra tasty and unique.

“I love coming in to the shop of a morning to find what they have made for our customers.”

Maree said it wasn't the first time the family had submitted their products to the national pie and pastie competition.

“Last year we won gold for our chicken pie,” she said.

“Due to COVID we only submitted four entries but this year we decided to really go all out with 11 entries – we were so surprised when we found out that each of them had won a place!

“Overall, we won six bronze and five silver for our range of pies and our meat and veggie pastie.”

Maree said while it was fantastic to again be recognised in a national competition for their delicious creations, it was Gin Gin Bakery customers who made the job worthwhile.

“Our customers are fantastic, they are the best part about what we do,” she said.

“They love all of our pies but the most popular ones would have to be the chicken, since we won gold last year, as well as cheese and bacon and mushy peas.

“When people find out we have mushy peas, they come flocking.”

Gin Gin Bakery awards


meat and veggie pastie

plain meat pie

chunky steak pie

mushroom pie

cheese and bacon pie

curry chicken pie


pepper pie

bacon, tomato and onion pie

curry meat pie

veggie pie

chicken pie

New business Lacy Yard Cards makes big statement

Emma Reid

Making a statement with her brightly coloured and festive yard cards, Childers mum Hannah Leacy’s new business, Lacy Yard Cards, is taking off.

Yard cards are large, personalised lawn signs, that can be erected to commemorate any special occasion from birthdays to graduations which have been popular in the United States for some time but are relatively new in Australia.

Hannah said Lacy Yard Cards provided an oversized, fun way to share the love while celebrating a special occasion or family event.

After opening her business only a few weeks ago she said word had already started to spread.

“It’s definitely something no one has seen in the area before,” Hannah said.

“America has been doing them for a long time, and after I saw them on the internet I wanted to know more and so I Googled it, researched it, and thought it would be perfect for me.”

As a stay-at-home, single mother, Hannah said the small business idea sprouted from her wanting to spend more time with her daughter, while releasing her creative side.

Standing up to 2 metres tall and 9 metres long, Lacy Yard Cards sure makes a statement, and Hannah said the design possibilities were endless.  

“They are designed for the customer, I put together what the customer wants, and I build as I go and see what I come up with,” she said.

“I try to work to a theme, and I have a bit of everything including dragons, dancers, unicorns and balloons, which are popular for children’s birthdays. I have a variety of themes and five different alphabets to start.”

Each Lacy Yard Cards corflute is made from weather resistant corrugated card and printed with UV resistant ink in a variety of designs.

“There really is so much that goes into each yard card,” Hannah said.

“I stack and layer as I go, hence my creative side, I find my colourful brain needed something to stimulate it.

“They are designed for the customer and they don’t need to even touch them, as I come and set them up and take them down.”

To find out more about Lacy Yard Cards click here.

Chook book wins local author two international awards

Ashley Schipper

Moore Park Beach author Alan Corbett has taken out prizes in two international book awards for his eggcellent story about  backyard chickens.

Alan is the writer behind Chicken Nibbles: Cartoons About Backyard Chickens, which recently won top place in the International Book Impact Awards and finalist position in the International Book Awards, both in the ‘humour’ section.

The annual awards showcase the work of independent authors from across the globe and across a range of different genres.

Alan said he was over the moon to be recognised for his work, with his cartoon book a labour of love that was two years in the making.

“It has been written for backyard chicken-keepers past, present, and future by one who has survived that experience with all limbs still attached,” he laughed.

“Each of the 54 high-resolution colour cartoons was drawn by award-winning cartoonist Mark Lynch, and each has an explanation, should you need it, of the finer points of the cartoon.”

Alan said his book was inspired by a period of his life 14 years ago when he was living in Crystal Waters, a permaculture village near Maleny with his wife after retiring from his role as lawmaker in the Parliament of New South Wales.

“One of the by-laws of living in Crystal Waters was a strict ‘no dogs or cats’ policy, but you could keep chickens,” he said.

“Having always had pets in the past, I decided to give chickens a go and, with the help and encouragement of other community members, a chicken coop was built and fenced.

“I then obtained an Australian Langshan rooster named Nobby and three Langshan pullets which were just old enough to lay eggs and that's where the journey with backyard poultry began.”

Alan said it was during this time that he would often observe the chickens and found their personalities and oddities fascinating.

“It wasn't difficult to generate ideas for the book because chickens are naturally funny and I was either studiously observing them or in close contact with them throughout the day,” he said.

“Inspiration was also provided by other chicken-keepers recounting their experiences of chicken mayhem and hilarity.”

Alan continued to keep chickens on and off over the next few years, but he has now called it a day with chicken-keeping. 

“While there are no chickens in my life, I still have an abiding fondness for them and a belief, shared by many, that keeping backyard chickens can have a positive impact on people’s lives,” he said.

 Alan's book, Chicken Nibbles: Cartoons About Backyard Chickens, is available for all chicken lovers to purchase by email here.

Multicultural Church Service part of Childers Festival program

Georgia Neville

Over the past 18 years, Sacred Heart Catholic Church at Childers has hosted a special mass to recognise the multicultural community that calls the region home.

Due to be held again this year as part of the Childers Festival, the multicultural mass will acknowledge more than 14 different nationalities that make up the congregation.

All of these cultures will be recognised at the start of the mass when the flags of all countries are processed into the Church.

Prayers of the Faithful, offered during the mass, will be said in 12 different languages by parishioners from each of the countries.

Barry Cochrane from Sacred Heart Catholic Church Childers said the mass was a great opportunity for people to experience a service across many languages and parishes.

“The mass itself follows the normal Sunday Vigil Mass which will be celebrated by our Parish Priest, Father Onyema Eloagu, a Nigerian Priest who was ordained in Brisbane six years ago,” Mr Cochrane said.

“With many visitors welcomed to the town during the Childers Festival weekend, the Catholic faith community has joined in the spirit of the event.

“Over recent years we have established a tradition of coming together in prayer, song and colour to acknowledge and give thanks for two things: our diverse backgrounds and our common faith.”

Mr Cochrane said the Sacred Heart Catholic Church mass would provide the opportunity to celebrate the Childers region and all that it is famous for.

“The mass celebrates many things including the variety of our produce, our amazing and much-envied climate and the colourful heritage of the people who have made this little country town and surrounding district home,” Mr Cochrane said.

Mr Cochrane said people who attend the mass would leave feeling upbeat and pleased to have been part of the occasion.

“While this is a Catholic Mass, we invite people from all faiths to attend and take part,” he said.

The Multicultural Mass will be held under strict COVID guidelines and everyone attending will be required to check in using the QR Code, or manual sign in.

Event details:
Date: Saturday 24 July
Time: 6pm
Cost: Free
Location: Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Churchill St, Childers

Rocky Point Retreat takes shape with wood carvings

Georgia Neville

Rocky Point Retreat in Winfield is taking shape with new, giant wood carving creations featured at the campground.

The work was recently completed by Ken Magri, a chainsaw carver from Gympie, after owners Darren and Kati Rasmussen discovered his talent when he was a guest at their site.

“Ken was staying at the campground and told me he could do some carving,” Darren said.

“We had a look at some of his previous work and then we commissioned him to do the entry sign and then some other lane signs on the way in.

“Ken started about six weeks ago and we are up to six carvings now.”

The couple said the unique carvings had already been gaining in popularity with park visitors taking advantage of the artwork for their holiday happy snaps.

Ken has been practicing chainsaw art for the past 20 years and has worked on both large and small scale projects.

“I’m self-taught and have been doing this for twenty years after picking up a chainsaw to cut through ironbark and it has grown from there,” he said.

“I love it because you get to see the artwork happen before your eyes quite fast.

“I love creating large pieces of art that are more impressive.”

Ken is now working on his last piece for the retreat, which, according to owner Kati, has a special meaning and is set to become a key attraction within the campground.

“Ken is currently working on a mermaid as I have always loved the ocean,” she said.

“We always wanted a feature that would stand out and something a bit special.

“We’re not really sure of its exact location yet but it is going to be somewhere where the guests can see it and my plan is to maybe dress her up for different occasions as a bit of fun.”

You can view more of Ken’s artwork on Facebook.

About Rocky Point Retreat

Rocky Point Retreat has been running for the past four years, owned and operated by couple Darren and Kati Rasmussen.

“Rocky Point Retreat is a campground and we are for self-contained campers and people who love fishing in Baffle Creek – that is our main customer base,” Darren said.

“The fishing is well known in Baffle Creek and as far as the campground goes it is quiet, large in size and spread out which gives people plenty of room to move about.”

The couple have seen their customer base grow over the years, with that growth continuing post-COVID.

“We have only been running for a small amount of time as far as campgrounds go in the district,” Darren said.

“We see about 10 to 15% growth per year and generally we have 20 to 30 caravans in every night, although currently with school holidays we are seeing a few more.

“The retreat is really starting to gain traction for us.”

You can find out more about Rocky Point Retreat here.

NAIDOC artwork on display at hospital

Georgia Neville

Cordalba-based Indigenous artist Marika Baumgart has once again picked up a paintbrush to showcase the artistic ability that won her the NAIDOC art poster in 2001.

Marika’s artwork was on show at the Friendly Society Private Hospital main foyer as part of NAIDOC Week, with pieces for sale from the hospital from next week.

While it has been 20 years since she has been painting she said she had now found the time to enjoy putting brush to canvas again.

“This exhibition is for NAIDOC week and for the theme healing country,” she said.

“I haven’t had a display for a while since winning the NAIDOC art prize in 2001.

“I have just started getting back into it again, with my kids grown up now I have room to paint again.”

This year’s theme of Heal Country is special to Marika as she shared advice for younger generations regarding the importance of the theme.

“It means healing the land,” she said. 

“For the younger generations, we need to look after the land and we value the land foremost and then family.”

Marika has a range of artwork on display at the hospital, including a dragonfly and kookaburra.

“I did these paintings especially for this exhibition,” she said.

“The kookaburra was inspired by all the birds at my house but the dragonfly comes from a water theme I had been thinking about.”

Gooburrum gives life to colourful foliage garden

Morgan Everett

Gooburrum is home to one acre of pure wonder for Lorraine Boyes who has worked on her garden for over three decades.

When Lorraine and her husband Wayne moved into their property there was nothing but bush which was cleared to make way for her plans of a colourful garden.

“The road had not even been put through when we secured the block we wanted,” Lorraine said.

“We set about clearing it ourselves but did have several large trees removed and had even put in two gardens prior to building our house.”

The gardens have always been an ongoing task Lorraine said, with them constantly evolving.

“Usually, I get out here actually on a daily basis,” she said.

“Not a chore as such as I’m passionate about everything gardening and consider it enjoyment.”

Having been gardening for many years, Lorraine said she has learnt to choose plants that will flourish in sandy soil, although the terrain had since improved.

“Over the years the soil has been built up with a lot of mulch and I can dig a hole whenever and wherever I like,” she said.

“After all these years I’m still making room for more plants and cuttings.

“I'm really happy with the soil I've got now.”

The cheer of the garden continues throughout the winter months with the help of Lorraine’s favourite vibrant foliage plants including Crotons, Cordylines, Acalyphas.

“They've all got that colour in their leaves.

“Not so much flower, just colour in the foliage. That's what I like.”

After joining a gardening club several years ago Lorraine said it is a great way to keep connected with likeminded people.

“The friendships made with other gardeners has put the icing on the cake so to speak,” Lorraine said. 

“I have always liked gardening but found once I retired from work and had more time my love of gardening escalated and there was no stopping me.”

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Bundaberg Region NAIDOC Week 2021 celebrations