Bundaberg and Lady Elliot Island
After visiting the Town of 1770 we returned to Bundaberg for a few days. One of the pleasures of travelling in an Apollo motorhome is being able to stop for a meal break where or when you want, and we found a peaceful picnic area at Smith’s Crossing on the Kolan River just north of Bundaberg. This was a narrow crossing for vehicles at one time, but due to deterioration of the bridge over the years, it is now closed, however, a picnic area here makes for a peaceful stop and a great place to spot the local bird life.
We stayed at BIG4 Cane Village Holiday Park, where we were warmly greeted by John, the owner. The park is set amongst beautiful tropical gardens and has a super swimming pool. Our cabin was beautifully clean and comfortable, with everything needed for a perfect stay.
Bundaberg has an abundance of things to entertain you during your visit, and the Rum Distillery tour was one that we wanted to do. Our tour commenced in the museum where we read about the history of the company, and followed through to the molasses store, where the rich sweet aromas warmed our nostrils, then via the processing plant to the huge barrels where the rum matures,we finished at the bottling plant, where hundreds of empty bottles arrived on a pallet and were filled, labelled and boxed as we watched. After the tour we sampled some of the different rum products produced at the distillery.
Nearby is Schmeider’s Cooperage and craft centre, where the large rum barrels are produced, here you can also see demonstrations of glass blowing and purchase beautiful wooden art works. The Hinkler Hall of Aviation celebrating the story of aviator Bert Hinkler situated in the beautiful Botanic Gardens is another venue worth visiting.
While in the Bundaberg area a trip to Lady Elliot Island is a must, you can make a day trip or stay for a while in the comfortable resort. Next morning we travelled there on a short flight from Bundaberg , and as we approached the island we had an amazing view of it surrounded by its blue lagoon and the reef. We were welcomed by the staff and given a tour of the facilities, including the dive and snorkel centre, where you can hire all the equipment needed to be able to see the wonderful underwater life that surrounds the island. The island is home to a large number of sea birds, many of which have become so used to humans, that you can walk amongst them and observe them in great detail. The White Capped Noddies fascinated us as they nested in the trees just above our heads, and also the Buff Banded Rails who ran around the island in great numbers.
Snorkelling in the lagoon straight off the beach was magical, there were hundreds of beautiful fish swimming amongst the coral, all shapes, sizes and colours. We had heard from Ben that the scuba diving here was one of his favourite locations, and plenty of Manta Rays could be seen and the Green and Loggerhead turtles swam close enough for you to gently scratch their backs! Many sea turtles nest on the island, and we were very lucky to be able to watch as some of the young hatchlings made their way down the beach and out into the water to start their new life in an underwater world. There is a wonderful relaxed atmosphere everywhere on the island and it is a truly magnificent place to visit.
On our final day in Bundaberg, we visited one of the many wineries to taste some of the delicious wines produced in the area. We called at Hill of Promise Estate, situated at Childers a short drive away, where organic wine is produced using wild yeast and without the addition of preservatives. Mary Byrne told us about the wines she and her husband produce and we enjoyed some delicious tastings, and purchased a couple of bottles to enjoy at our leisure. You can also stay for Bed and Breakfast at the vineyard in Mango Hill Cottages and enjoy the same warm hospitality we received.
We finished our day with a stop at Mammino’s ice cream shop, where we indulged in a delicious chocolate and macademia ice cream, a treat not to be missed!