Our first thought when we entered Bundaberg was, “for the love of pizza and ice cream, where can we get a shower around here?” After a quick visit to the Information Centre, we had two options – hot showers down the road at $5 a pop or free cold showers by the beach at Bargara. With the sun shining and the anticipation of a free hot shower in the days to come, we made our way to Bargara…
Once we were refreshed, we did a quick drive around town. We ducked into a Lifeline Superstore and were delighted to find a book Dave had been looking for since Christmas – the sixth instalment of Jean M Auel’s Earth’s Children series for only $1. His day was made even more with all the Aussie and American muscle cars cruising around town – there were lots of vintage cars and hot rods to drool over.
The traditional owners of the region are the Kalki people, and the first white man they ever saw was actually a convict who had escaped from the Moreton Bay penal settlement in 1830. It wasn’t established as a settlement until 1867, and the first industries were timber and sugar. The settlement steadily grew and eventually became a town in 1902, and a city by 1913. As you drive around town, it’s hard to miss all the beautiful buildings, many with arches and columns and colourful art deco façades.
Things to See and Do
Bundaberg Distillery Company
Ever since Juz tried spiced rum in Darwin, she’s been hooked so a visit to the Bundaberg Distillery was compulsory. It was great to see where the Aussie icon is made, and the tour was a really insightful way to learn about how rum is made.
The Bundaberg Barrel
Both a ‘Big Thing’ and an educational experience about the origins of ginger beer, the Bundaberg Barrel is the home of Bundaberg brewed soft drinks, which are a brazilian times better than regular crappy soft drinks.
Named after Dave Schmieder, who had just left school when he was offered a coopering apprenticeship at the Bundaberg Distillery in the 1970s. He started the business in 1982 just as the demand for coopers was declining, but he is still on call with the Distillery to maintain their massive timber vats.
You can visit the Cooperage for free, browse the gift shop, watch barrels being made and even try your skill at putting a barrel together yourself in the interactive video room.
Alexandra Park & Zoo
This is a great place to have a picnic or BBQ before checking out the free zoo – complete with playful monkeys, chilled out dingoes, kooky quolls and emus that omit a sound that sounds like a beating drum or a hollow PVC pipe being hit by a stick.
Bundaberg Waterworks Water Tower
Considered to be a structure of technical and aesthetic bricklaying excellence, construction of this water tower commenced in 1902 and was completed in 1905. It holds 40,000 gallons of water in a tank that is just over 32 metres high, and it is still in service today.
This old-fashioned town is adorned with ornate buildings, heritage pubs and the Old Pharmacy, a brilliantly preserved display of what an olden day apothecary would have looked liked. Well worth a drop in.
Sharon Nature Park and Gorge
This is a free rest area about 15 km west of Bundaberg. There’s a picnic area that precedes a short walk through Sharon Gorge to a lookout over Burnett River. We ventured out shortly after sunrise and marvelled at the calls of the whip birds before being somewhat disappointed by the lack of view at the end of the path.