Bundaberg is closely linked to the sugar cane industry. The area is surrounded by cane fields, and the small railway lines that carry the harvested cane to the mills. The closeness to the sugar cane mills is the reason for the siting of the rum, ginger beer, and sugar industries associated with Bundaberg.
The town is 10 km from the ocean beaches, such as Bargara and Mon Repos. It is built on both sides of the Burnett River, which is crossed by two road bridges and a railway bridge. Bourbong street is the oddly named main street (originally named Bourbon Street, but historically misspelled). Parts are also known as the Isis Highway.
The town of Bargara is essentially the beachside suburb of Bundaberg. It has many modern apartments, accommodation, and resorts with ocean views. Though close to Bundaberg, it has a very different feel to the town centre. It has a small shopping and restaurant strip, and an esplanade with barbecues and picnic tables.
Bundaberg is approximately 4 and a half hours drive by car north of Brisbane.
Buses do the journey from Brisbane in around 6 hours.
Queensland Rail Travel services Bundaberg with the tilt train (4 1/2 hours from Brisbane). The Spirit of the Outback services (6 1/2 hours from Brisbane) also passes through the town. Adult fare $62.70 one way.
Bundaberg Airport (BDB) has four flights a day by QantasLink from Brisbane (check for specials). The airport is around 4 km west of the city centre. Car hire is available in the terminal, Avis, Budget, Hertz and Thrifty. Europcar is not in the terminal, but is at the far end of the car park. There is a cafe and an ATM in the terminal building.
Duffy's buses run mainly school buses, but there are some public routes. In particular buses run between Bargara and the Bundaberg town centre every hour or so on weekdays and every couple of hours on a Saturday.
You really need a car to get anywhere outside the city centre. A number of Backpacker hostels run shuttle minibuses for seasonal workers to local farms early in the morning and back again in the afternoon.
- Botanic Gardens. Includes a restored steam train that runs Sundays and public holidays. Rides cost a nominal fee and do two laps of the Botanic Gardens pond. The engine is a restored steam cane train.
- 1 The Bundaberg Barrel, 147 Bargara Rd, ☏ . The home of Bundaberg Ginger Beer (and other brewed soft drinks). There is a shop and tasting free to access, and a interactive museum display at a small cost. The museum can take an hour or so, with some interactive computer exhibits, some historical information, and a small "hologramatic" presentation humorously telling the story of brewed soft drinks (end the evil Johann Jacob Schweppe who inserted bubbles into soft drink, rather than brewing them!).
- 2 Bundaberg Rum Distillery, Whittred St, ☏ . Where the amber fluid has been produced since 1888. There are two tours; The interactive Bundy Story uses touch panels and visual displays to show 120 years of rum making. The Bondstore Experience adds a guided tour around the distillery where you can see, smell and taste the product being made. Covered footwear required. Tours run on the hour M-F 10AM-3PM, 10AM-2PM, Sa/Su and public holidays. Tours $15-25; Family:$62.50; Children under 3 free.
- 3 Hinkler Hall of Aviation, Mount Perry Rd & Young Street, Bundaberg North, ☏ . A modern museum in the Botanic Gardens celebrating the history of early aviation and the role of Bert Hinkler, a pioneer aviator born in Bundaberg who, in 1928, became the first to fly solo from England to Australia, and, in 1931, the first to fly solo across the South Atlantic. Adjacent to the museum (and included in its admission price) is Hinkler's house from the Thornhill Estate, Sholing, in Southampton, England, which was rescued from destruction in 1983, dismantled and shipped brick by brick to Bundaberg and reconstructed.
- Mystery Craters, 15 Lines Road, South Kolan (about 25 km from Bundaberg on the road to Gin Gin). Daily 9AM-5PM. The craters are in an area that resembles a large suburban backyard. There are around 30 craters, between a few centimetres and a few metre radius. There is an old machinery shed containing old dusty lawn mowers. For some reason there is a 3 metre tall dinosaur statue. There is a fee for admission.
- Turtles Return each year around December to Mon Repos to lay their eggs at night. In around February, and in December you can see the little hatchlings struggle their way into the ocean against the waves. The beach is part of a National Park, and you must be accompanied by a ranger to see the turtles. Laying and hatching is at night.
- Tropical Fish at the Basin, Bargara. Tropical fish can be seen at the Basin, and the southern end of The Esplanade. It is possible to take bread and feed them. There is no admission charge, bring your own snorkel and mask.
- 4 Bundaberg War Memorial, Bourbong Street.
- 5 Fairymead House, Thornhill Street, Bundaberg North. A heritage-listed homestead built in 1890.
- 6 Boolboonda Tunnel (A little way out of town towards Mount Perry (off the highway)). An abandoned heritage-listed tunnel, it is the longest unsupported tunnel in the Southern Hemisphere, at around 200 metres long. The tunnel was dug for the railway, but now a road goes through the tunnel, and you can drive through.
- Walk along Bourbong Street and look at some of the city's old buildings.
- Swim at Bargara beach
- See the view from The Hummock, take the Bargara road, and follow the signs. A 100-meter-tall hill on the outskirts of Bundaberg for a good view of the city and out to the ocean. On a clear day, you can see the tip of Fraser Island
Seasonal work can be obtained picking tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables. Check with the backpacker hostels for more info. To work legally, you require a valid work visa (not a tourist visa) and you should provide the employer with a tax file number if you do not want them to deduct 48 % tax from your wages (normal non-residential tax rate 29 %). It may be possible to work without a valid visa (cash-in-hand), though occasionally inspectors do checks on farms and at hostels, which could possibly result in severe consequences.
Bourbong Street, the main drag through town, is partly a shared pedestrian zone with a variety of shops, banks, travel agents and the main post office. There are two other major shopping centres: Hinkler Place, a few blocks to the south on the corner of Maryborough and Electra Sts, and the larger Sugarland in the west (Cnr Takalvan and Heidke Sts), both of which contain most of the major Australian chains between them.
- The Hungry Tum, 216 Bourbong St. Well known for its signature drink, pink lemonade. It's a take-away place underneath the City Centre Backpackers, on the western side of downtown.
- 1 Kacy's (Bargara Beach Motel), 63 Esplanade, Bargara Beach (cnr Bauer), ☏ . Fine cooking Italian style on a pleasant terrace across the road from the beach. You may see possums in the trees from your table. Mains around $23, kids meals $10.
There is a variety of accommodation styles available in Bundaberg. West of the Bundaberg Railway Station there are a number of well equipped motels. In amongst these motels is a variety of food outlets ranging from cafe style food, take away, and restaurants. There are around several backpackers hostels to choose from. One is opposite the bus depot. Two others are opposite the train station. Most of these can arrange farm work and will even provide transport to the farms in the morning and back in the afternoon. For those who wish to camp, caravan and camping parks are located throughout the city.
Bargara beach offers a choice of newer apartment style accommodation closer to the beach.
- Bundaberg Backpackers. Good building and good facilities with free computer with internet, tv room and barbecue outside. The management is not so good. Transport to work included in the price. $190/week.
- 1 Cane Village Holiday Park, 94 Twyford Street (west of downtown on the Isis Highway), ☏ .
- 2 Coral Villa Motel in Bundaberg, 56 Takalvan St, ☏ , toll-free: 1800 644 014, fax: . Has accommodation in a garden setting which includes an 18 meter swimming pool and guest BBQ area. Motel style units and self-contained units with kitchenettes.
- Dingo Blue Backpackers. Nice place, good if you want find "to smoke"
- Federal Backpackers. the thing that makes this hostel great is the social life: the house is quite dirty but this, thanks to the hard life of farm working makes poeple more friendly. great to have fun: there's a bottle shop in the same building with an outside garden run by the same manager. good hostel to find job, provide transport to work for 3$ go and 3$ back. the managers are quiet, not bad. the negative face of this is place is the cleaness: it's really dirty, but people who stay here don't care so much normally cause they're happy of the people living inside from 23$/night 148$/week.
- Sandcastles on the Beach (at the Basin), ✉ Info@BargaraSandcastles.com.au. 2 and 3 bedroom apartments. 3 bedroom with 3 x queen 1 x single.
- Bargara Blue Resort.
- Kellys Beach Resort, 6 Trevors Rd, Bargara, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Eco-friendly 2-bedroom self-contained villas. From $80 per night.
- Childers – many historic colonial buildings, on the way to Maryborough and Hervey Bay (both an hour's drive south)
- Gin Gin – inland from Bundy, has the longest unsupported tunnel in the Southern Hemisphere
- Lady Elliot Island – barrier reef island, direct flights from Bundaberg airport
- Lady Musgrave Island – visit the barrier reef island and enjoy scuba diving in the atoll
- Town of 1770 and Agnes Waters – the historic birth place of Queensland, about 2 hour's drive north, named after the year that Captain Cook first landed in Queensland
|Routes through Bundaberg|
|Gin Gin ←||W S||→ Childers|