At first glance, the Queensland city of Bundaberg may not look like a holiday hot spot — but dig a little deeper and you’ll discover an amazing diversity of experiences.
The city offers easy access to the Southern Great Barrier Reef, but there are plenty of must-sees and dos in and around the city itself. Here are eight amazing reasons why Bundaberg should be on your Queensland bucket list.
Listen to our overview of all things to do in Bundaberg below!
Walk with turtles
Wildlife lovers will love Bundaberg. The region is home to the east coast’s largest population of nesting marine turtles – including the endangered loggerhead turtle. From November through to late March, the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service runs supervised evening tours onto Mon Repos Beach to observe turtles nesting and even hatching. Seeing the tiny hatchlings scrambling down the beach to take their chances in the massive Pacific Ocean is an incredible sight, and one that will stay with you forever.
Meet the reef off Lady Elliot Island
One of the most spectacular ways to get up close and personal with more of the marine life of the Great Barrier Reef is to pay a visit to fabulous Lady Elliot Island. This small coral cay offers the opportunity to snorkel straight off the beach. Day tours include a buffet lunch and the chance to take part in the island’s scheduled activities, including glass bottom boat trips and guided walks. The island is internationally renowned as a site where you can dive with manta rays.
Create your own signature drop at the Bundaberg Rum Distillery
Bundaberg’s world-famous liquid gold came into being in the 1880s and continues to be manufactured onsite at the Bundaberg Rum Distillery. The history of the distillery is closely entwined with that of the city itself, so even if you’re not a rum fan, the Bundaberg Rum Museum Experience offers plenty of interesting exhibits. For those that want to take home a memento of their visit, the Blend Your Own Rum Experience is an hour-long session with an expert guide, during which you’ll create your own signature rum blend. Book well in advance.
Fly high at the Hinkler Hall of Aviation
The Hinkler Hall of Aviation in the Bundaberg Botanic Gardens isn’t just an opportunity to honour Bundaberg-born Bert Hinkler – one of the most famous pioneers of early aviation. It’s also a chance to be an intrepid aviator yourself, thanks to the many interactive experiences on offer. Soar on the flight simulators or experience Bert’s first epic glide on Mon Repos Beach. Bert went on to fly solo from England to Australia in 1928, and across the South Atlantic in 1931 – a world first.
Ride the rails on the Australian Sugar Cane Railway
There are a number of other historical attractions in the gardens, including the superb Australian Sugar Cane Railway. Maintained and operated entirely by volunteers, a jaunty steam locomotive pulls a series of repurposed cane train carriages on a circuit around the verdant gardens. You’ll pass lily-padded ponds occupied by a plethora of water bird species, scaly water dragons and fresh water turtles. Ask the driver to call into the workshop for a look at the other heritage engines.
See some super-sized street art
Back in the early 1980s, US environmental artist Wyland began travelling the globe raising awareness for ocean conservation by adorning the sides of buildings with life-size murals of whales. There are 100 works in the ‘Whaling Walls’ series, which spans five continents. Two of the murals can be found in Australia – including one in downtown Bundaberg. You can’t miss the 100m high family of happy humpbacks swimming high above the CBD on the side of an office tower.
Try a convict brew
Rum isn’t Bundaberg’s only claim to liquid fame. Bundaberg Brewed Drinks has been producing premium craft-brewed soft drinks since the 1960s (their ginger beer is probably the best known), while the boutique Bargara Brewing Company produces a range of artisanal craft beers at its brewhouse in the heart of the city. Call in for a tasting paddle of top drops, including the Convict 6.9% IPA. It’s based on an English recipe that was popular in the mid 1800s.
Chill out at beautiful Bargara
The coastal hamlet of Bargara is located just 13 kilometres’ drive from the centre of Bundaberg and is the perfect day trip destination. Relax on the gorgeous beaches, stroll the foreshore, poke about in the rockpools or let the kids loose at the Bargara Foreshore Turtle Playground. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants on hand when it’s time to recharge. On your way back to town, make a stop at The Hummock Lookout (on top of what was once a volcano) to take in the 360 degree vistas of the region.
Need a place to stay?
EconoLodge Park Lane is the perfect spot to base yourself to explore everything Bundaberg and the surrounding region have to offer. Located right next to the city centre, the hotel offers a variety of good value, comfortable room types, along with a convenient onsite eatery and a refreshing tropical pool. The CBD’s cafes, restaurants, galleries and attractions are all within easy walking distance.
About the writer
Adam Ford is editor of The Big Bus tour and travel guide and a travel TV presenter, writer, blogger and photographer. He has previously had the opportunity to travel the world himself as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten.