A long-time Brisbaneite turned loyal Bundabergian – Jess Marsellos has her finger on the pulse of all things paddock to plate in the sugar cane-framed town of ‘Bundy‘.
Bean @ Saskia is tucked away at the back of a gorgeous homewares, gift and clothing store in East Bundaberg. The coffee is brewed to perfection and you can always sneak in a little treat from the many homemade biscuits and cakes that line the counter. Make sure you stay a while and check out the shop – it’s got heaps of unique and one-of-a-kind gifts.
Favourite brekkie spot
With its pretty mozaic flower as a welcome doormat, street art splayed over the walls and the warm large globes that glow from the street – you can’t go past Indulge Café, and not just for the great décor. Larry Hinds and his wife Amanda are very hands on and, more often than not, it will be Larry that takes your coffee order and pours you the perfect brew. Likewise, the meals are always so fresh, you can almost guarantee a local farmer or producer has just popped to the back door to hand deliver their pick of the crop to be used in one of Amanda’s mouth-watering dishes.
If I had to choose a favourite it would have to be the Breakfast Bruschetta – Rick’s smokey bacon from Kalpowar, fresh cherry tomatoes from Bill’s farm, all on a gorgeous slice of sourdough from the Moreton St Bakery just down the road in Toogoom. Another fave is the Turkish Eggs and if you’re feeling adventurous the XO Prawn Omelette really is to die for – think local XO sauce produced at the Bundaberg Prawn Farm, local wild-caught prawns and free range eggs – SO YUM!
Top spots for a tipple
The Club Hotel is definitely the place to be any time of the day or any night of the week. Recently renovated, the pub serves up great meals and there is a great variety of drinks to choose from, whether you set up shop amongst all the action in the front bar or relax and unwind in the beer garden out the back. There are always bands playing on Saturday nights and the front bar turns into a party room after 10pm.
Best natural attraction
I think the beaches in our region are completely underrated – Mon Repos (where you can also see turtles nesting and hatching from November to March each year), Coonarr, Woodgate, Moore Park, Elliott Heads, Innes Park are just some of the lovely swimming beaches you can visit year-round. There isn’t much swell, but when there is a hint, Neilson’s Beach at Bargara is where the surfers head for a long, small ride in. We also have a lovely ‘turtle trail’ circuit that extends from Mon Repos along the coastline – grab your bike and helmet and make a day of it.
Jurassic Putt at Bundy Bowl and Leisure Centre! This is a huge indoor centre, which has lots of fun activities for kids and kids at heart. Jurassic Putt is something else – ultraviolet painted dinosaurs and nine holes of mini golf. It’s really fun, super cheap and definitely worth doing while you’re in town (especially if it’s a rainy day).
I would also suggest taking the time to forage and explore at your own pace and stop in at the farm gates you come across along the way. Look out for the hand-painted signs and honesty boxes on the side of the road and pick up some delicious, fresh and crisp produce for your own DIY picnic.
Favourite way to spend a Sunday
Top of the list would be heading down to Coonarr Beach with a portable BBQ, fresh meat and salad using local produce. It’s pooch-friendly so my dog Darling can roam around while we have a stroll or a swim if it’s hot enough. The beach has kilometres of untouched soft, white sand and is great for swimming, too. There aren’t any flags and it’s not patrolled, so be cautious if you do decide to go for a dip.
Best free activity
The Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery always has a great range of exhibitions showcasing both local and visiting artists to the region. I also just enjoy spending time on our local beaches – they are free, clean and lovely to swim at nearly any time of the year.
Most romantic spot
I would suggest packing a picnic and heading down to the foreshore at Bargara at sunset or up to the Hummock lookout, which has 360-degree views over the red soil, lush agricultural vistas and the rest of the town.
Best spot for shopping
When I’m in need of a bit of retail therapy I head to Destiny Boutique, Haight & Ashbury, Sea Gypsy, Avenell’s (the most amazing homewares shop that has been in the same family for over 100 years!), Saskia, Vovo Modelle and Desert Rose. If you are in Bargara make sure you check out Homeleigh House and Sanshells.
If you are like me and love trawling through piles of pre-loved goodies, then I would recommend doing Bundy’s op shop circuit, because there really is some gold to be found. I usually head to the Guide Dogs Queensland Op Shop on McLean St, Archdiocese on Wongarra St and the RSPCA Op Shop on Maryborough St as my top three. If you can’t find what you want at those then there is the Red Cross and Endeavour Foundation also on Maryborough St, St Vincent De Paul on Quay St and McLean St and the Salvation Army on Tantitha St. Phew!
If money is no object…
Take a trip out to Lady Elliot Island – either a day trip or stay a few nights. This is one of the most amazing places I have ever been to in my life. You stay right on the Great Barrier Reef and get really close and personal with turtles, reef sharks, sea cucumbers, starfish and a whole range of beautiful marine life. There’s a shallow side of the island for snorkelling but also a deeper option on the other side for the more adventurous. Lady Elliot is famous for its manta ray population, which you can snorkel and dive with all year round – it’s definitely one for the nature and dive-lover’s bucket list.