The turtles of Mon Repos may have put Bundaberg on the world map, but it’s the region’s perfect mix of coastal cool and country charm that’s making it a winner with families. From the idyllic islands of the Southern Great Barrier Reef to magnificent national parks, quaint coastal towns, fresh local produce and a fascinating history, Bundaberg is brimming with fun-filled family activities.
With a hidden Japanese Garden, children’s playground, magnificent lake and more than 114 species of birds to discover, Bundaberg’s Botanic Gardens is an explorer’s paradise. The gardens span 27 hectares and also house the Hinkler Hall of Aviation, Hinkler House and the Bundaberg & District Historical Museum. Head along on Sundays to ride (for a small fee) a steam train through the gardens on the Australian Sugarcane Railway.
Kids will love the towering cliffs, lush fern-covered pools, sheltered gorges and secret caves of this ancient section of Queensland’s stunning Sandstone Wilderness. Along with Aboriginal freehand art, the national park is home to an amazing array of wildlife including rock wallabies, rainbow skinks, lace monitors, wedge-tail eagles and peregrine falcon. Spend the day exploring one of eight bushwalks, or pack a picnic and keep a look out for the elusive platypus at Three Moon Creek.
Burnett River Cruises
All aboard! Put your feet up and enjoy an historical tour of Bundaberg’s Burnett River aboard the Bundy Belle, a fully restored classic river ferry. The two and a half hour cruise winds past some of the sugar city’s best known industrial landmarks, including the Bundaberg Rum Distillery and the Bulk Sugar Terminal, with entertaining commentary revealing the river’s colourful past. The cruise departs from Grunske’s By The River Seafood Market and Restaurant, where the kids can take a behind-the-scenes tour of the seafood market before tucking into the ocean fresh local produce.
What do turtles, lamingtons and basaltic rock pools have in common? Kids over 12 years of age will become acquainted with all three during Segue Bundy’s Turtle Trail Eco Tour. Step onto your own PMD (personal mobility device) and be guided through the spectacular coastal trails of Mon Repos Conservation Park, where you’ll learn all about Bundaberg’s world famous turtle nesting site. The 10km round journey takes in the beautiful Wongarra Scenic Coastal route and includes interpretive commentary and a yummy morning tea by the rock pools at Oak’s Beach.
Halfway between Bundaberg and Gin Gin, sits one of Australia’s most baffling phenomena – 35 oddly shaped craters, all in one location and millions of years’ old. The craters’ mottled mixture of sandstone and ochre stain have been the subject of controversy and countless investigations since their discovery in 1971. Small children will be enchanted by the fairy garden located at the entrance, while older explorers will enjoy the informative commentary, displayed rock samples and the quirky souvenirs available at the kiosk.
Is your intrepid traveller partial to pythons? Just south of Childers, Snakes Downunder features more than 45 species of Australian reptiles, amphibians and marsupials. Snap a selfie holding a python and a baby saltwater crocodile, catch the daily Venomous Snake Show or visit the Snake House. There’s also a vivarium housing dragons and frogs, saltwater crocodile and monitor lizard feeding displays and a chance to cuddle a koala.
Hinkler Hall of Aviation
Follow the footprints of Australia’s most famous solo aviator Bert Hinkler at the Hinkler Hall of Aviation. The family-friendly interactive display has glide simulators, a replica Arvo Bay aircraft and full-size display artefacts, including Hinkler’s original flight records. The admission price also includes a self-guided tour of Hinkler House, the aviator’s English home that was dismantled brick-by-brick, flown across the globe and rebuilt in Bundaberg in Hinkler’s honour.
Bundaberg – Australia’s Food Bowl
They don’t call Bundy ‘Australia’s Food Bowl’ for nothing. From fabulous and fresh seasonal produce at the farm gate to celebrated producers, cafes and cooking schools, the Bundaberg region is a mecca for budding Masterchefs.
Look out for strawberries, macadamias, watermelons and tomatoes on picturesque country roads or head to the Apple Tree Creek Markets on the second Saturday of each month for sensational seasonal offerings.
Local cooking school Kitchen Confidence offers cooking classes for children aged 6 to 16, with ingredients, recipes and a good dose of fun included. The hands-on lessons use fresh, vibrant ingredients to create wholesome tasty dishes from around the world.
At Gayndah you’ll find the Big Orange which celebrates the town’s position as the citrus capital of Queensland. Visit between April and October to sample fresh juice from the citrus grown onsite and enjoy a delicious high tea in the café.
You can also sample one of Bundaberg’s most famous exports, Bundaberg Ginger Beer, at the Bundaberg Barrel. The True Brew Experience Tour here explains the journey of the humble ginger root as it’s crushed, brewed and fermented to make the celebrated drop. The Sampling Bar offers free product tastings of all 14 delicious flavours produced on site and delectable foods and sweets are also available to purchase in the gift shop.
Still hungry? Mammino Gourmet Ice-cream, near Childers, serves up delectable hand-made gourmet ice-creams, using a secret family recipe handed down through the generations. Watch the manufacturing process on-farm before sampling one (or more!) of the seven different macadamia flavours or, if you’re feeling adventurous, try the avocado ice-cream or a cup of the 3 Degrees, featuring the intriguing Golden Nugget, Red Dirt and Cuppamammino flavours.