48 hours road tripping in Bundaberg
Bundaberg: you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s all Bundy Rum and turtles busting out of their shells to scamper to the sea at Mon Repos. But with beautiful pockets of (almost deserted) coastline, fields of sugar cane and strawberries keeping you company as you drive, and trendy new food markets and breweries popping up, a weekend here means equal parts detox and retox.
We hit the road in our motorhome for a good ol’ fashioned driving holiday to sample what’s new in Bundaberg, and created this 48-hour itinerary so you can explore its sweetest assets in a weekend.
5pm – Riverfeast
Bundaberg’s old marine college facility has been transformed into the liveliest Friday night to hit town – Riverfeast.
Kicking off in late 2015 as a weekly night food market, the site will eventually include a family tavern and shipping container stalls, in the style of Brisbane’s Eat Street Markets.
Under strings of fairy lights, the Burnett River takes centre stage as groups of friends and families meet to debrief on the week that was over a buffet of street food dishes and a few coldies.
All the usual suspects are here: potato slinkies, paella, sushi, German sausages, curry and pizza, but we loved vintage caravan Desadora Delights for weekly specials like pumpkin ricotta pie and freshly squeezed juices.
Browse your way through the clothing stalls, stock up on local sauces, olives and cured meats, grab some pulled pork tacos and a local Bargara Brewery Turtle Lager from Grinner’s Bar and you’ve got the weekend off to a cracking start.
8am – Sea Gypsy
Barefoot gypsy souls will feel completely at home at this beach shack-turned cafe, boutique and outdoor event space in the sleepy coastal town of Burnett Heads, 15 minutes’ drive from the centre of town.
Owner John has a yacht bobbing away in the nearby harbour called Sea Gypsy, “not that I get out on it all that often now” he says after opening the business around 18 months ago with his wife Sandy and daughter Indianna. Together they’ve created a homely, free-spirited environment capped off with healthy, superfood fare and a gorgeous boutique filled to the brim with a curated mix of boho threads, bags and homewares.
Everything from the vintage glass window bar to the weathered floorboards, rustic display cabinets, and outdoor ‘Sea Gypsy Bar’ has been built by hand, creating a dreamy space that makes you want to stay all day reading magazines under the seashell chandeliers.
Where: Shop 2, 31 Zunker Street, Burnett Heads
Open: Thursday to Sunday 8am-4pm
10am – Segue Bundy
If you’ve never stepped foot on a segway before, the first few core-twisting moments can feel pretty foreign, but once you get your balance the silent beast under your feet becomes an extension of your body, allowing you to cruise along like something out of The Jetsons.
Segue Bundy’s Turtle Trail Eco Tour, which runs daily at 10am, takes you into the conservation park in Mon Repos where passionate owners (and avid turtle research volunteers) Matt and Jackie will clue you up on the ins and outs of the journey of these heroes in a half shell before rolling up to Oaks Beach for morning tea with a million-dollar view.
If you’re more motivated by your stomach than baby turtles, join their afternoon cruise – with just a touch of off-roading – and end up at the Coral Cove Golf Resort for sunset drinks and tapas. The Sunset Tapas tour is available Tuesday to Sunday and personal trips can also be arranged.
Note: Children must be 12 years or older, and at least 45kg to ride.
12pm – Seafood at Grunske’s on the River
On first glance, Grunske’s might seem like your typical fried fish and chip takeaway joint, but study the menu a little longer and you’ll see you can sample the freshest seafood to be pulled from the Southern Great Barrier Reef waters.
Order the cold seafood plate to sample fresh sand crab, oysters, Moreton Bay bugs, prawns, smoked salmon and Paul Grunske’s famous smoked mackerel. We also loved the fresh bite-sized salt and pepper calamari! Wash it all down with a cracker view over the Burnett River where trawlers and yachts bob along in the midday sun.
Where: 11E Petersen St, Bundaberg
Open: Daily from 7am to 8pm
2pm – Dessert at Nana’s Pantry
With so many fresh ingredients on tap in this food bowl region, making Italian gelato at Nana’s Pantry must be a delight! Word of warning: You’ll find it hard to contain yourself when the tasting spoons are whipped out.
From Bundaberg Ginger Beer sorbet to (everyone’s favourite) salted caramel, Turkish delight, and a decadent chocolatey rum tartufo blended with the local drop, the flavours are rich, creamy and delicious.
FYI, ordering here is done the Italian way: pay for your scoops (and grab an espresso while you’re at it) at the cashier, then head to the gelato counter to have your order filled.
Where: 38 Electra Street, Bundaberg
Open: Monday to Saturday 8:30am-5:30pm
3pm – Afternoon sesh at The Brewhouse
When six mates decided to band together and start making beer in the seaside town they loved, little did they know that just over one year later, in September 2015, they’d be pumping out 21 craft beers on tap – with names like Rusty Roo, Thirsty Turtle and Drunk Fish – in their own dedicated brewhouse.
Bargara Brewery’s cool industrial space makes the perfect spot to spend a Saturday afternoon, sampling one of their $15 tasting paddles (they also do a 4 x 70ml version for $5) amongst the vats that pump out 20 kegs a day.
The beer taps take the form of their namesake animal – turtles, fish, kangaroos – all carved from timber, which adds to the tongue-in-cheek vibe of this bar and brand that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
As well as their own brews, The Brewhouse has Symphony Hill wine on tap from Queensland’s Granite Belt and serves up tasty bar snacks like crack-your-own macadamias, pizzas, and a locally-made beer stick infused with their own Drunk Fish pale ale.
We’re hanging out for the Ginger Ninja shandy brew that will be released soon!
Where: 10 Tantitha St, Bundaberg
Open: Wednesday to Saturday 11am-10pm, Sunday 11am-5pm
5pm – Time to chill in Woodgate
The road into Woodgate hints at what’s to come – there’s nothing to see for around 20 kilometres, and that includes other people.
With one road in and one road out, this 16-kilometre stretch of beach is enveloped in Burrum Heads National Park, making it completely secluded, laidback-as-they-come and pristine.
Fill the fridge or Esky in Bundaberg so once you arrive you can park for the night at Woodgate Tourist Park and chill – they’ve got cabins as well as powered and unpowered sites, and they do a mean bacon and eggs at the cafe out front.
7am – Beach time
Woodgate Beach has to be one of the most underrated and unknown beaches in Queensland and when you wake up here, you’ll feel as though you have the entire stretch of sand all to yourself.
The water is calm and clear so if you’ve got a kayak or stand-up paddle board, be sure to pack it. Then again, floating on your back and listening to the world around you is about as exertive as you need to be here.
12pm – Hit the road
The drive back to Brisbane is around four hours from Woodgate, which gives you just enough time to hand back the keys to the motorhome but perhaps not enough time to readjust to the jolting city pace.
*Huge thanks to Apollo Motorhome Holidays for providing the wheels for our ultimate Bundaberg itinerary and two more food-focussed driving holidays to be revealed on the blog soon!