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Overview: Bundaberg

Bundaberg region is a place where the beach meets the Great Barrier Reef and where turtles call home. You will find that your plates are always filled with abundant local produce and the rum is always world-class. It has a dash of country town with a sophistication of a thriving metropolis.

While most travellers would normally drive past the region on their way to the Capricorn Coast and beyond, Bundaberg Region is certainly a place you will want to stay longer. It is a destination that once you visit, you will wish you had planned a longer stay.

Bundaberg, for many, is home and you will certainly get the sense of home from the friendly locals who are more than willing to show you around. It is also home to an abundance of wildlife, where loggerhead and green sea turtles return every year to nest and the hatchlings return to the ocean, where graceful manta rays dance and migrating humpback whales pass through.

When you arrive at this vibrant and bountiful region on the cusp of the Southern Great Barrier Reef, it will feel like home too, and you will never want to leave.

Bundaberg and the surrounds really does have something for everyone. Families will enjoy the calm waters and beaches, rockpools to explore, farms to visit and so much more. Couples will find romancing this coastline a breeze and the town full of romantic hidden gems. Adventurers can explore both land and sea with hiking tracks aplenty, coastal walks and amazing snorkelling and diving in the region. The region is perfect for a relaxed visit for the golden oldies who like a slower pace and foodies will be able to get a true taste of paddock to plate delights.

How to get to Bundaberg

Around Bundaberg. Photo Credit – Kate Webster

Fly into Bundaberg on a quick 45 minute flight from Brisbane with Alliance Airlines (Phone 13 67 89) and Qantas (Phone 13 12 23), both offer daily services between Brisbane and Bundaberg. Or take an easy four and a bit hour drive from Brisbane and you will arrive in Bundaberg and the gateway to Southern Great Barrier Reef. This makes it perfect for the drive market. However, if you don’t like flying and not a fan of driving, you can take a scenic rail journey with QLD Rail. Queensland Rail (Phone 13 16 17), who offers daily departures from Bundaberg. These services go both north and south.

Once you land or arrive in Bundaberg, you can hire a vehicle from Budget Car and Truck Rental located on Johanna Boulevard.

From Bundaberg, exploring the nearby islands is a breeze. Lady Elliot Island is a mere 25 minute scenic flight from the Bundaberg Airport and you are landing on the first island of the Great Barrier Reef. Lady Musgrave Island is accessible by a day cruise away from Bundaberg Port Marina and Town of 1770/Agnes Water.

Top things to do in Bundaberg

Bundaberg town. Photo Credit: Tourism Queensland

It is hard to narrow down just a few top experiences to have in Bundaberg Region, but if you are limited on time, these are the must do activities.

Explore the streets of Bundaberg

In the town of Bundaberg, you can trace the city’s heritage in the museums and gracious colonial buildings. Visit the subtropical Bundaberg Botanic Gardens precinct, which includes more than 10,000 plants, a working sugar cane train and the Hinkler Hall of Aviation, which pays tribute to solo aviator Bert Hinkler. For a slower paced discovery, cruise the Burnett River aboard the Bundy Belle and see Bundaberg from a new perspective.

Watch turtles nesting Mon Repos Conservation Park

If you visit between November and March at Mon Repos Regional Park, you can join a nightly tour to see green, flatback and the endangered loggerhead turtles nest and hatch on the small stretch of beach there. Mid-November to February is the best time to see female turtles laying eggs, while mid-January to March is the best time to see the hatchlings leave their nests from. Make sure you book your tickets ahead of time as they are limited and sell out fast.

For more visit bundabergregion.org/mon-repos-nightly-turtle-encounter

Lady Musgrave Island Experience reef sleep. Photo Credit – Kate Webster

Sleep on the reef off Lady Musgrave Island

Experience the jewel of the Southern Great Barrier Reef, Lady Musgrave Island, and her lagoon and reef with the Lady Musgrave Experience. Enjoy a luxury 35 m catamaran transfer to Lady Musgrave Island as part of your day tour aboard the REEF EMPRESS, where your Reef adventure begins. Then choose what your day will hold from a range of amazing Lady Musgrave Experience activities like glass bottom boat tours, swim with turtles, island walks, birdwatching, snorkelling and scuba diving. Best of all, you can actually sleep out on the reef in a gorgeous glamping tent set up on the top level of the pontoon or even sleep below the water in the underwater accommodation and watch the reef come alive at night. The pontoon features the most sustainable and eco-friendly build in the world. Above the waterline, the innovative zero-impact design is completely solar and wind-powered, and below the waves, coral cultivation and Citizen Science programs give back to the world’s greatest natural treasure.

For more visit ladymusgraveexperience.com.au

Blend your own rum at Bundaberg Rum Distillery

You can’t visit the Bundaberg region without trying some of the Bundaberg Rum, and now you can even blend your own rum. For over 130 years, the art of blending Bundaberg Rum has been solely a pursuit for our Master Distillers, until now. While you can do a tour of the rum distillery, the Blendatorium is where you want to be. During the Blend Your Own Rum Experience, visitors will be exposed to the art of blending the world-famous rum. Spend 60 minutes with expert Blend Your Own Rum Guides who will teach you the art of tasting rum straight from the barrel. Once you’ve selected your favourites, the guides will teach you the art of blending, and help you craft your very own personalised blend. You’ll then pour it yourself, direct from the barrel, and leave that very same day with two of your very own personalised 700mL bottles – one to keep and one to enjoy.

For more visit bundabergrum.com.au/distillery/book-a-tour.html

Explore the rockpools at Bagara

Become a marine biologist for a day and explore the rockpools with Reef Connect. Natalie Lobartolo, a qualified Marine Scientist, will take you exploring the local coastline and learning more about the ecosystem and exciting creatures that find a home there. It is fantastic for kids and an awesome alternative to classroom learning, education and awareness as it is disguised as fun activities, enquiry and exploration. The day will involve lots of “What’s that? Who eats who, why does that live there? How does it all work? And WOW, that’s so cool!” You will explore sea turtles, rock pools and their critters, corals, marine debris, and so much more.

For more visit reefconnect.com.au/product/marine-biologist-for-a-day/

Splitters Farm Bundaberg. Photo Credit – Kate Webster

Have a glamping farm experience

A 10-minute drive north of Bundaberg’s bustling CBD and you will find Splitters Farm. Set on 160 acres of bushland property and bordering Splitters Creek, Splitters Farm offers a unique rural camping and farm stay experience. Splitters Farm first started in 2017 as a safe haven and sanctuary for rescued farm animals who had been neglected, abused or the victims of their owners change of circumstances. Most however, have come to Splitters Farm as the result of the drought and the subsequent financial burden for farmers to feed their livestock. These animals become your neighbours when staying at the farm, which is best done in their new luxury glamping tents. More like a home away from home, these tents are set up perfectly for families, with two rooms and plenty of space and activities for kids of all ages to enjoy.

For more visit splittersfarm.com.au

Do a gin tasting at Kalki Moon

Born from the cane fields in Australia’s Rum capital Bundaberg, Kalki Moon is the regions artisan distillery. Founded in 2017, Kalki Moon is 100% Australian family owned and operated company focusing on quality over quantity. They have a very impressive portfolio, including award-winning gin, rum, vodka and liqueurs. A tour of the distillery will show you their passion for craft distilled spirits and ends with the opportunity to have a taste of your choice. They are open 7 days a week from 10am.

For more visit kalkimoon.com/

Taste your way around the region

The first thing you will notice when travelling around the region are the patchwork of green, abundant farmlands sewn together by rows of rich red volcanic soil. Bundaberg Region offers a wealth of variety with produce being grown, brewed, distilled and caught, not just seasonally, but year-round. You are guaranteed to go home with a full tummy when you visit this food bowl. There is so much to try, you will need to consult the Food Trail Map to ensure you don’t miss anything. If you visit in June, you are in for a real treat as the region holds the Taste Bundaberg Festival. Held across 10 days, Taste Bundaberg Festival is an invitation to roll up your sleeves, get your hands dirty, pile plates high and leave glasses empty.

For more visit bundabergregion.org/foodie-trails

Top 5 tips for visiting Bundaberg

Mon Repos Turtle Encounter Bundaberg. Photo Credit – Kate Webster
  1. If you want to book in to see the turtles at Mon Repos, get in early! Tickets are limited and sell out fast.
  2. Do make the journey out to Lady Musgrave with Lady Musgrave Reef Experience and stay the night in the glamping tents for a reef sleep on the pontoon – you will not regret it
  3. For an amazing family experience, head to Splitters Farm and stay in the glamping tents. Also look for the platypus that can be found in the creek running through the property.
  4. Try your hand at blending some rum at the Bundaberg Rum Factory
  5. Be prepared to eat a LOT of amazing fresh food and even travel with an empty esky as you will want to be bringing some of that local produce home with you.

Book your trip to Bundaberg

Around Bundaberg. Photo Credit – Kate Webster

Book clients on their Bundaberg getaway through preferred wholesalers or direct. Details of operators and contact information can be found at bundabergregion.org. You can also find some suggested itineraries below:

1-2 Night Itineraries

1-6 Night Itineraries

3 Night Group Itinerary

Fraser & Reef Itinerary

Disclosure: The writer explored Bundaberg with assistance from Bundaberg Tourism

Book accommodation here: