The Bundaberg Rum master distillers collection bottle.
The Bundaberg Rum master distillers collection bottle. Mike Knott

Plenty to see and do in Bundaberg

RUM, ginger beer and turtles are among the first things which spring to a majority of Australian's minds when they hear the word Bundaberg.

Those words have become a part of the town with good reason.

Situated on the east side of town the Bundaberg Rum Distillery almost hides away in the shadow of the neighbouring sugar mill.

Established in 1888 it was not until almost 100 years later when the distillery started to capitalise on the popularity of the well-loved drink.

In 1986 guided tours began to run regularly at the site.

Thousands of thirsty rum-lovers still make their way to the distillery each year for a tour with the promise of a stiff drink at the end of the visit.

Bundaberg Rum Bond Store spokesman Duncan Littler said the distillery now offers two types of tours allowing people to almost all the secrets of the drink.

The first tour, which takes about 30 minutes, is self-guided and uses touch screens to explain the history of the facility.

Visitors also have the option of a guided tour which takes a walk through the storage sheds and bonds.

Both tours end in the bar and adults are able to sample some of the products.

“The numbers (taking a tour) are going up every year,” Mr Littler said.

Mr Littler said visitors would not be getting any free recipes with the rum's ingredients a closely guarded secret.

“Visitors are also asked to arrive about 10 minutes before the tour leaves for a short safety demonstration,” he said.

Next to the distillery is the popular retail store — the largest Bundaberg Rum retail store in the world.

“There is some merchandise there which are not available anywhere else,” Mr Littler said.

“A lot of people like to browse to see what they can find which is not anywhere else.”

The Bond Store has also become the regular location for launches of limited editions of the rum.

Hundreds of people waited overnight in pouring rain to get their hands on a bottle of Bundaberg Black in December 2010.

Similar crowds are expected on Sunday when the distillery launches the Master Distillers drink — a 10-year-old rum aged in an oak vat.

“It's our biggest launch yet with a ‘Ye Olde Carnival' on Sunday with the launch,” he said.

The rum is not the only attraction at the distillery with the big Bundy Rum Bottle attracting dozens every day.

“There is constantly someone out there waiting to get their photo in front of the bottle,” Mr Littler said.

After a day touring the rum and ginger beer factories, visitors can head to Mon Repos where the beach comes alive at night.

Just 15 minutes from Bundaberg city, the Mon Repos Conservation Park sees hundreds of turtles nest on the shores between October and January. From January to April thousands of hatchlings emerge from the sand each night to make a dash to the ocean.

Each night rangers from the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service take guided tours on the beach to watch the sea turtles nest and hatch. The park is the largest turtle rookery in the Southern Hemisphere seeing loggerhead, flatback and green turtles making the beach its nesting ground.

Each season the female turtle will lay four or five clutches deep in the sand on the beach.

About 120 eggs are laid with about 80% of those producing hatchlings. Just one in every thousand of those hatchlings will make it to adulthood.

Bundaberg North Burnett Tourism CEO James Corvan said the turtle rookery was one of the building blocks of tourism in Bundaberg.

The last turtle tour for the 2010-11 season will leave the beach on Sunday, April 3, after the tours were extended an extra week.

For more information on things to do in Bundaberg, visit www.bundabergregion.info.


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