You will not even know where Bundaberg is, but you will surely recognize the international signature rum distillery that originates from there. And that’s exactly what Bundaberg was to all – the place which spews the most iconic rum ever made. Yet, Bundaberg is so much more than that. It is, quite interestingly, situated at the Southern end of the Great Barrier Reef, along with being one of the biggest sugar canes growing areas in Australia. It, therefore, doesn’t come across as a surprise when tourists claim that Bundaberg is full of wonderful attractions, waiting for you to be explored.
Bundaberg Rum Distillery
Want to experience one of the best rums available in the world? Then Bundaberg Rum Distillery is the place you should head to. It was established in 1888 and has risen to fame because of its iconic rum, not just in Australia but in the whole world. In fact, as soon as you step in the city, you will be greeted by the brand’s unique polar bear icon on every corner of the area. The distillery takes tours around the establishment, from which you can choose either a self-guided tour or a guided one. There are three guided tours, whereas the Museum Experience tour is a self-guided one, where you get to walk amidst six massive oak vats producing finest specimen of the Australian Rum. The distillery experience of this amazing place is something everyone should experience at least once in their lives!
Cania Gorge National Park
With its dynamic, changing landscapes and the rock wallabies and wedge-tailed eagles calling it their home, the Cania Gorge National Park is an absolute natural wonder of Bundaberg. It is a still-standing part of the Brigalow Belt Country and is filled with a variety of plant communities, including woodlands, a rainforest, grassland and even a brigalow forest! What makes Cania Gorge even more special is the fact that as much as 19,000 years ago, Aboriginal people resided in this place. The evidence lies in the freehand art adorning the sandstone walls in the park. There are around eight bushwalks, all of them leading to monolithic overhangs, gullies, orchid-filled crevices, along with cliffs and pools with ferns. This ancient wonder is an integral part of Sandstone Wilderness of Queensland – and a must-see, might I add.
Fitting yourself into a barrel is not weird anymore, thanks to Bundaberg’s The Barrel! It is a ginger beer brewery and museum, shaped like a wooden barrel, with vintage charm and perfect beers. It primarily showcases the deliciousness of Bundaberg’s Ginger Beer, which is sold in more than 30 countries across the world. The tour of this place is a self-guided one, which informs the visitors about this amazing brewery, right from its history to their special process of making this amazing, non-alcoholic ginger beer. Along with the ginger beer, they also offer more than 15 tempting flavours as well as a large selection of Bundaberg Brewed Drinks.
Mon Repos Turtle Centre
Turtles are an important part of the animal kingdom, and Bundaberg’s Mon Repos Turtle Centre is working hard to preserve this species. The largest concentration of nesting marine turtles in eastern Australia, Mon Repos is vital to revive and protect the endangered loggerhead turtle. The Turtle Centre is an absolute delight for the animal lovers, as this is where information about turtles can be learned, along with enjoying the turtle-hatching process. During the times of November-January and January-March, the beach is closed, so that the female turtles can lay their eggs in peace – only limited tours are taken around this time. The park in which the centre is located in a wholesome one, where picnic tables are provided for the visitors. Do you need any more motivation to visit the centre?
Bargara Brewing Company
Now that you know where to get the best rum, now is the time to explore one of the best breweries in Australia! The Bargara Brewing Company, located on Tantitha Street, is the brainchild of Jack and Jacinta Millbank. It is one of the most-visited microbreweries around the area, providing amazing quality brews made from local fruits and vegetables. It also has distributors in South Korea, China, Japan and Vietnam and has become the local favourite, at least on the eastern coast of Australia. The ambience is great, where you can enjoy more than 15 brews of the Brewing Company – and have the time of your lives!
The Mystery Craters
Located somewhere between Bundaberg and Gin Gin, a little bit away from the main road, is something so baffling you’ll have to spend a while to digest the phenomenon. The Mystery Craters were discovered in 1971 when the place’s previous owner was busy ploughing the field. There are 35 craters, peculiarly shaped and more than 20 million years old, according to the scientists. The craters have, surprisingly, different characteristics – some can hold water, some can’t, while the rest fluctuate quite visibly, as you can observe from the public viewing platform. Theories have been traded about their origin, but there’s no concrete proof of that till date. Maybe you can cook up some plausible theory – you just have to visit.
Tucked away in the folds of the urbanization in Bundaberg is a heritage-themed café, Indulge Café. Proudly owned by Mitchell and Marleen White, the café makes sure that the ingredient used are locally sourced and the menu is utterly delicious. The café recently underwent a huge renovation, adding a new feature wall, some aesthetically pleasing orange and golden hues and overall a fresh feel. Not only that, but they have also revamped their entire menu, except for their popular dishes. The café won Australian Good Food Guide 2020 Reader’s Choice Awards for their amazing service, food and ambience. Some of the most-ordered dishes include macadamia maple butter, relish jams, Umami burger, and the perfect Jasper coffee.
Bundaberg Regional Arts Gallery
Excessively bragging about oneself is not healthy – but bragging about BRAG is! The Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery (BRAG), located on Quay Street, is a beautiful visual arts facility, acting as the arts centre in Bundaberg and the surrounding areas. There are a number of varied exhibitions, ranging from local to even national, all of them spread in three exhibition halls of the gallery. Along with that, the gallery also offers touring exhibitions, hosts visiting artists as well as workshops, educational programs and kids’ activities. There are guided tours taken around the facility for a thorough understanding of the place, ending at the neat little gift shop. The gallery is teeming with artistic liveliness – not many cities can offer that!
The Hinkler Hall of Aviation
The Bundaberg Botanic Gardens are not all about plants and trees – there are many other attractions that are food for the soul. One of them is the Hinkler Hall of Aviation, the place built to honour Bert Hinkler, Australia’s first solo aviator. The place is a gentle remembrance of the adventures Hinkler went on to as well as the number of achievements he bagged in his life. The Hall is a dynamically built structure, full of immersive exhibits, a number of full-sized aircraft displays and museum artifacts, including the popular glide simulators where visitors can fly like Bert, the Hinkler House ‘Mon Repos’, restored to its earlier glory and his relocated Southampton House. Once you’ve gotten your Aviation experience at the fullest, stop by Café 1928 for some delicious snacks.
Bundaberg Botanic Gardens
Spread over 27 hectares in Bundaberg is one of the most-visited places, the Bundaberg Botanic gardens. A labyrinth of wide pathways and boardwalks lead you to the different parts of the garden, including Chinese and Japanese gardens, a prehistoric garden, woodworkers’ guild, palm and friendship grove, Bromeliad garden, sclerophyll woodland, as well as Australian rainforest, bamboo garden and the Hinkler Hall of Aviation. The place in entirety has more than 10,000 variety of trees and shrubs, some of the surrounding a beautiful lake in the heart of the garden. The garden also boasts of having a wedding chapel, nature-themed playground and some shaded picnic areas. Feeding the ducks, enjoying a picnic and relaxing amidst nature – that’s exactly what Bundaberg Botanic Gardens is all about.
Bundy Food Tours
Bundaberg is big on ‘Eat Local’ and has, since the start, worked hard on producing the freshest of fruits and vegetables. Suzie Clarke, a proud resident of Bundaberg, decided to further this healthy practice, leading to the fortunate birth of the Bundy Food Tours in 2016. The tour essentially focuses on how the farmers work on their products as well as behind-the-scenes of other local ventures, right from a chocolate shop, sourdough bakery to coffee roaster, butcher and seafood market. These tours comprise of three food tours – called ‘Taste of Bundaberg Experiences’ – along with Bundy Drinks Tour on weekends. Gorging on macadamias and figs, understanding the ways of local farmers and some delicious seafood lunch – Bundy Food Tours are nothing less than absolutely worth it!
Slicing Bundaberg into two parts is the beautiful Burnett River, flowing through the area to divide Northern part away from the rest. The river originates from the Burnett Range and terminates in the glittering Coral Sea. At the conjunction point of the river and the sea is Burnett Heads, a quaint little coastal town and Port Bundaberg. The town, with its main attraction being Burnett Heads Lighthouse, boasts of peaceful atmosphere, enough to calm you down. The region surrounding the river is conducive for growing small crops and sugarcane – or go for fishing, as it is possible on both the sides of the river. Picture a calm river, where you contentedly cast your fishing pole in the water – that’s what Burnett River experience is all about.
Alexandra Park & Zoo
Just beside the Burnett River, on the Quay Street in Bundaberg, is the beautiful Alexandra Park & Zoo. It was established in the year 1911 and is actually one of the oldest, working zoos in Queensland. It is filled with shady trees and animals like saltwater crocodiles, gazelles, kangaroos, a koala, whiptail wallabies, Rhesus Monkeys, pigeons and even Angora Rabbit. The important attraction, however, was ‘Torty’, a Madagascan Land Tortoise. It died in 1984, approximately at the age of 137 years, making it the world’s longest-living being. TripAdvisor has not only given it a Certificate of Excellence in 2019 but also credited it with the Travellers’ Choice Winners in 2020. It has, ever since then, been counted in the top 10 places to visit in the world; even more so after TripAdvisor’s endorsement.
Following the tradition of ‘Eat Local’, Greg and Karen, Bundaberg Residents, started their own food market by the Burnett River, called RiverFeast. It is a craft beer and a food alfresco dining venue – something no one ever tried in the city. A boat-building shed is transformed every Friday and every third Sunday of the month, to accommodate the swarming crowds of people coming there to eat, drink and socialize. More than 26 stalls, gazebos and food trucks offer a seemingly infinite number of dishes, from all the cuisines. Munch on the amazing food, get drunk on the brewed beers, wines and ciders and enjoy the live music wafting through the riverside air!
Grunske’s by the River
If you are looking for the most delicious and freshest local seafood to buy or eat in Bundaberg, then Grunske’s by the River is the place to go! This gem of a place is also situated by the Burnett River and established by Paul and Beryl more than 40 years ago. A restaurant and a market in one, you can enjoy delicious seafood dishes on the wooden deck by the water, or just buy seafood to take at home. Specializing in wild prawns, sea scallops as well as fresh reef and estuary fish, Grunske’s is the only place where you will get your seafood processed on the spot. Grunske’s by the River is the ultimate seafood paradise, as you’ll say once you visit it.
Gaze past the beers and rums of Bundaberg and you will find how versatile the place really is. What is amazing about Bundaberg is the success it has garnered in relying on local produce, right from locally grown vegetables to even seafood. Other than that, the parks, the museums, the restaurants, the markets – everything about Bundaberg is worth experiencing.