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For other uses, see Bundaberg (disambiguation).
Poste Bundaberg.JPG
Central Bundaberg
Bundaberg is located in Queensland
Coordinates 24°51′0″S 152°21′0″E / 24.85000°S 152.35000°E / -24.85000; 152.35000Coordinates: 24°51′0″S 152°21′0″E / 24.85000°S 152.35000°E / -24.85000; 152.35000
Population 71,000 approx. (2011) (2006)[1] (26th)
 • Density 268.6/km2 (696/sq mi)
Established 1870
Postcode(s) 4670
Area 252.6 km2 (97.5 sq mi)
Time zone AEST (UTC+10)
Location 385 km (239 mi) from Brisbane
LGA(s) Bundaberg Region
State electorate(s) Bundaberg
Federal Division(s) Hinkler
Mean max temp Mean min temp Annual rainfall
26.5 °C
80 °F
16.3 °C
61 °F
1,142.6 mm
45 in

Bundaberg is a city in Queensland, Australia. It is part of the local government area of the Bundaberg Region and is a major centre within Queensland's broader Wide Bay-Burnett geographical region. The city is on the Burnett River, approximately 385 kilometres (239 mi) north of the state capital, Brisbane, and 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) inland from the coast.

The first Europeans in the area were timbergetters and farmers who arrived in 1867. The town was surveyed in 1870. By 1881 it was gazetted as a municipality (the Borough of Bundaberg). It grew rapidly into a town by 1902 and a city by 1913.


The city name is thought to be an artificial combination of bunda, the Kabi Aboriginal word denoting important man, and the German suffix berg indicating mountain.[2] The city is colloquially known as "Bundy".


Timber workers
Cane workers
Burnett River

The local Aboriginal group is the Kalki people. They are the inhabitants of the region which stretched from the Burrum river in the south to the Baffle creek in the north. They were part of the Kabi Language Group. (Edward Curr 1886).

This was part of the four-class matrilineal (female descent) moiety system used by the Kabi people. Their territory spread from the Caboolture River in the south to the Kolan River in the north.

The Kabi moiety names were Balgoin, Barang, Bunda, Derwain and Tandor (Durrumboi in Ridley 1866); the phratry names were Kupaiathin and Dilbai. Gooreng (Gurang- a title given to people who were banished, although either spelling Gooreng or Gurang has same meaning of banishment title, translating to 'nothing'). Wakka inland or wa'pa (slow speech) used the moiety name Banjurr instead of Balgoin stead (Mathew 1910). However, it has been claimed that Bunda was not a clan sub-tribe or tribe only one of the moiety names.[3] Kabi headquarters is in Bundaberg (Kamarangan 2012). The boundary between the Wahr and Kalkie peoples of the Kabi tribe is the Burnett River.

Queen Maria was the headman (Kamarangan 2012) of the Dilbai phratry over all Kabi people, which is an inherited title (Mathew 1910). Maria stated that she was "Queen over all the bloomin' land".[citation needed]


The first white man to visit the region was James Davis in 1830, an escaped convict from the Moreton Bay Penal settlement. Davis was referred to as Durrumboi by the local Kabi people. He married in this area.(Rev Dunmore Lang 1861, William Ridley 1866). Alfred Dale Edwards, another early settler, was adopted into the Kalkie-speaking clan Yongkonu (Thyeebalang Roth 1910, Archibald Meston 1892). He was given the moiety name Bunda.

Bundaberg was founded in 1867 as a European township by timbergetters Bob and George Steuart.[4] The first farmers in the area, including Thomas Watson, arrived soon after. Local resident and District Surveyor John Charlton Thompson was directed by the government to survey and plot an area on the South side of the river. The city was surveyed, laid out, and named Bundaberg in 1870.[4] It was gazetted a town in 1902 and a city in 1913.

Timber was the first established industry in Bundaberg. In 1868, Samuel Johnston erected a sawmill in Waterview, on the north bank of the Burnett River (downstream from the Steuart and Watson holdings).[4][5] Waterview sawmill supplied Rockhampton as well as local needs. It became prominent enough to prompt the government to extend the railway connecting North Bundaberg with Mount Perry, eastward to the Waterview Mill. Waterview sawmill closed in 1903 after being damaged by flood.[6] Experimental sugar cane cultivation in the district followed, and a successful industry grew. The first sugar mill was opened in 1882.[7] The early sugar industry in Bundaberg was based on Kanakas workers, who were kept in a status close to slavery.

The three surveyors named Bundaberg's streets. Thompson was assisted by unregistered surveyor assistants James Ellwood and Alfred Dale Edwards.[8] Edwards preferred using aboriginal names: Kolan, Woongarra, Barolin, Bingera, Kalkie, Moolboolooman, and for streets Tantitha, Bourbong, etc.


Bourbong, also spelled Boorbong, was a local Kalkie name for a large waterhole (Cairns Post, 1910 P7 18 Jan W.A. Dean) near the Rubyanna area.[9] It is a common misconception that the main street was incorrectly gazetted in the Bundaberg Mail as "Bourbong" instead of "Bourbon" street. Rackemann conducted a survey of letterheads printed between 1904 and 1957.[8] Up until 1940 the count for both names was near enough to equal, with in some cases companies carrying both spelling variations in successive years. However, by 1941 there is no reference to "Bourbon" street. Farmer Robert Strathdee's farming selection in the vicinity of the watering holes was recorded on early survey maps as 'Boorbung'.[10] The Bourbong was referred to by Howitt as the name of one of the Kalki initiation ceremonies (Howitt 1904).

Bourbong is Bairbong, bair (chief) and bong means (dead). It refers to the place at a waterhole where a chief was speared through the eye. The Kalki people referred to Bundaberg as Bairbara or place of Chiefs; the region was referred to as Borral Borral.

Ceremony of unveiling the War Memorial Statue, Bundaberg, 1921
War Memorial Statue, Bundaberg, 1925
Bundaberg War Memorial in front of the Bundaberg Post Office, 1948


The Bundaberg War Memorial commemorating those who died in the Boer War and World War I was unveiled by Major-General Charles Brand on 30 July 1921.[11][12]

In December 2010, Bundaberg suffered its worst floods in 60 years, when floodwaters from the Burnett River inundated hundreds of homes.[13]

Two years later, in January 2013, Bundaberg experienced its worst flooding in recorded history. Floodwaters from the Burnett River peaked at 9.53 meters. As of 28 January 2013, more than 2000 properties had been affected by floodwaters, which moved in excess of 70 km/h. Two defence force Blackhawk helicopters were brought in from Townsville as part of the evacuation operation, which ultimately used an additional 14 aircraft.

Heritage listings[edit]

Bundaberg has a number of heritage-listed sites, including:


Bundaberg from space
Aerial view to the east


Bundaberg has a subtropical climate with wet hot summers and mild winters. The climate is the most equable of any Australian town or city and ranked 5th on a worldwide comparison.[4] The mean daily maximum temperature is highest in January at 30.3 °C (86.5 °F) Celsius, and the mean daily minimum is lowest in July at 9.9 °C (49.8 °F).[32] The coldest temperature recorded in Bundaberg is −0.7 °C (30.7 °F) degrees Celsius, and some inland areas of Bundaberg sometimes experience frosts. The mean annual rainfall is 1,142.6 mm (44.98 in).

Climate data for Bundaberg Post Office
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 38.9
Average high °C (°F) 30.3
Average low °C (°F) 21.3
Record low °C (°F) 14.1
Average precipitation mm (inches) 205.8
Average precipitation days 10.0 9.6 9.5 6.6 5.7 4.3 4.0 3.5 3.5 5.2 6.3 7.9 76.1
Average relative humidity (%) 62 63 63 60 58 56 53 52 53 57 59 61 58
Source: Bureau of Meteorology[33]


Aerial view to the north


Looking down Bourbong Street, Bundaberg town centre.
Bundaberg town centre with Bundaberg General Post Office to the right.
Young woman riding on the back of a turtle at Mon Repos Beach, near Bundaberg, ca. 1930.

Subtropical Bundaberg is dependent to a large extent on the local sugar industry. Extensive sugar cane fields have been developed throughout the district. Value-adding operations, such as the milling and refinement of sugar, and its packaging and distribution, are located around the city. A local factory that manufactured sugar-cane harvesters was closed down after it was taken over by the US multinational corporation Case New Holland. Most of the raw sugar is exported.[7] A bulk terminal for the export of sugar is located on the Burnett River east of Bundaberg.

Another of the city's exports is Bundaberg Rum, made from the sugar cane by-product molasses. Bundaberg is also home to beverage producer Bundaberg Brewed Drinks.

Commercial fruit and vegetable production is also significant: avocado, banana, bean, button squash, capsicum, chilli, citrus, cucumber, custard apple, egg fruit, honeydew melon, lychee, mango, passionfruit, potato, pumpkin, rockmelon, snow peas, stone fruit, sweet corn, sweet potato, tomato, watermelon, zucchini.[34] Macadamia nuts are also grown.[35]


Tourism is an important industry in Queensland, and Bundaberg is known as the 'Southern Gateway to the Great Barrier Reef'.[4] The city lies near the southern end of the reef in proximity to Lady Elliot and Lady Musgrave Islands. The nearby town of Bargara is an increasingly popular holiday and retirement destination.

The Mon Repos turtle rookery is located on the coast just east of Bundaberg. The northern bank of the Burnett River between the Don Tallon and Burnett bridges is home to a colony of flying foxes.[citation needed]

Nearby beaches are popular with both locals and tourists.[36] Moore Park, to the city's north, has 20 kilometres (12 mi) of golden sandy beach. Beaches on the southern side of the Burnett River are (from north to south) the Oaks Beach, Mon Repos, Nielsen Park, Bargara Beach, Kellys Beach, Innes Park and Elliott Heads.

Cania Gorge National Park, Deepwater National Park, Eurimbula National Park and Kinkuna National Park, located in the Bundaberg region are popular with campers and bush-lovers.[36]

Tours of the Bundaberg Rum distillery and attractions at Bundaberg Botanic Gardens, such as the 2 ft narrow gauge[37] Australian Sugar Cane Railway, are also popular with tourists.[36] The Mystery Craters, 35 unexplained water-filled holes in the ground, discovered in 1971 at South Kolan, are also a tourist attraction.[38]

Opened in 2002 by the former member for Hinkler Paul Neville, the Tom Quinn Community Centre gardens (a multiple "Bundy in Bloom" winner) is a site to be seen with local flora and fauna, its own cafe, marketplace, chapel, green house, training facilities, woodwork and indiginous nature section.[39]

Opened in December 2008, the Hinkler Hall of Aviation is an historical aviation tourist attraction that celebrates pioneer solo aviator Bert Hinkler. In 1928, Hinkler was the first person to fly solo from England to Australia.[40] The museum includes an exhibition hall, featuring multi-media exhibits, a flight simulator, a theatre, five aircraft and the historic Hinkler House.

Other local attractions and events include the Whaling Wall, East Bundaberg Water Tower, Baldwin Swamp Environmental Park, Alexandra Park Zoo, Barrell House, Bundy in Bloom, Whale watching, reef tours of Lady Musgrave & Lady Elliiot islands, the Bundaberg Show, Bundaberg & Childers Regional Art Galleries, the Bundaberg Gliding school, Fishing Charters, the Bundaberg International Air Show, and the Woongarra Marine Park.

Museums and galleries[edit]

The Bundaberg region contains a variety of museums and art galleries that showcase the region's history and culture.[41]

South Kolan Mystery Craters
Bundaberg Rum Factory, Bundaberg


Arts and entertainment[edit]

Bundaberg has two cinemas. The Reading Cinemas, on Johanna Boulevarde, west Bundaberg, and the Moncrieff Entertainment Centre (formerly known as the Moncrieff Theatre), located on Bourbong Street, central Bundaberg. The Moncrieff Entertainment Centre also holds live musical and theatrical performances year round.[43]

The Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery (BRAG) is a large multi-purpose visual arts facility located in central Bundaberg.[44]


The NewsMail newspaper is published in Bundaberg from Monday to Saturday. It is available in print and online.[45] Several community Newspapers are also available including the Guardian,[46] The bugle[47] & the Bundaberg Coastline[48]

Bundaberg is served by three commercial television stations (Seven Queensland, WIN Television and Southern Cross Ten) and publicly owned services (ABC TV) and (SBS).

Local news coverage of Bundaberg and the Wide Bay is provided on all three commercial networks with both Seven Queensland's Seven Local News and Win Queensland's WIN News airing 30-minute local news bulletins each weeknight.

The city has been the location for two film sets, including the 1989 film, The Delinquents, starring Kylie Minogue, which was set in Brisbane, but partly shot in Bundaberg,[49] and the 1977 film, The Mango Tree.[50]


Mitchell Langerak, former Bundaberg footballer, who is now playing for Borussia Dortmund in the German Bundesliga

Most major Australian sporting codes are played in Bundaberg, including: rowing (sport), basketball, roller derby, cricket, golf, lawn bowls, netball, tennis, rugby union, rugby league, soccer, hockey, Australian Rules football, and softball.

Basketball – Bundaberg has two professional teams, both competing in the Australian Basketball Association's Queensland Conference (QBL). They are the Bundaberg Radiology Bulls (men) and Bundaberg Radiology Bears and both feature local players.

Tennis – The Bundaberg & District Tennis Senior Association operates eleven floodlit clay courts in Drinan Park, Bundaberg West at the corner of George & Powers Streets.[51] Competition tennis is played all year round. The Bundaberg & District Junior Tennis Association operates five artificial grass courts, and two granite courts.

Rowing – Bucca Weir, west of Bundaberg, is home to the Queensland State Rowing Championships every year in December.

Soccer – Bundaberg is home to the Bundaberg Spirit soccer club. They participate in the Queensland State League against other teams across Queensland.

Australian Rules football – Bundaberg has two current clubs playing in the AFL Wide Bay competition.

  • Across The Waves Bundaberg Eagles (merger of North Bundaberg and Souths/ATW Magpies)
  • Brothers Bulldogs (formerly West Bundaberg)

The other clubs in the competition are:

  • Hervey Bay Bombers
  • Maryborough Bears
  • Bay Power


There are many public and private primary schools in Bundaberg.

Bundaberg has three public high schools, Bundaberg North State High School, Bundaberg State High School (the second-oldest high school in Queensland that is still open) and Kepnock State High School. There are also three main private secondary schools: Shalom Catholic College, St Luke's Anglican School, and Bundaberg Christian College.

There is a campus of the Wide Bay Institute of Technical and further education on Walker St and a campus of the Central Queensland University, located adjacent to the airport. There is a campus of the Booth College at the Salvation Army's Tom Quinn Community Centre.[52]


View of Bundaberg town centre from the Burnett River bridge.

Bundaberg Airport has flights to Brisbane and Lady Elliot Island. The city is home to the Jabiru Aircraft Company, which designs and manufactures a range of small civil utility aircraft.

Bundaberg's bus operator is Duffy's City Buses. As of 2013, they transport over 1000 passengers in town services, and over 2000 passengers in school services every day.[53] Routes extend to the beach suburbs of Burnett Heads, Bargara, and Innes Park. Stewart & Sons also operates bus services in the area.[54]

Bundaberg is serviced by several Queensland Rail passenger trains, including the Tilt Train and is approximately four and a half hours north of Brisbane by rail. The closed North Bundaberg station formerly served the Mount Perry railway line and is now a museum.

Bundaberg is situated at the end of the Isis Highway (State Route 3), approximately 50 kilometres (31 mi) east of its junction with the Bruce Highway. Many long-distance bus services also pass through the city.

Bundaberg Port is located 20 kilometres (12 mi) northeast of the city, at the mouth of the Burnett River. The port is a destination for ships from Australia and overseas. It is predominantly used for shipping raw sugar and other goods related to that industry such as Bundaberg Rum.


Bundaberg is served by three hospitals. One public hospital, Bundaberg Base Hospital on Bourbong St, and two private hospitals, Friendly Society Private Hospital & Mater Hospital.

The Friendly Society Hospital has undergone a redevelopment and forms part of the GP Super Clinic Program.[citation needed]

Bundaberg is also home to the Royal Flying Doctor Service, who regularly transport patients to Bundaberg from more rural and remote areas, as well as transferring critically ill patients to Brisbane for specialist care.

Sister cities[edit]

The city council responsible for the Bundaberg Region maintains Sister City arrangements with two cities.[55]

City Since
China Nanning, China 12 May 1988
Japan Settsu, Japan 9 November 1988


Notable residents[edit]

Bert Hinkler is memorialised in many places throughout Bundaberg





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  2. ^ "Place Name Details" (PHP). Natural Resources and Water (Queensland). 2008. Retrieved 13 March 2008. 
  3. ^ "The Derivation of "Bundaberg.".". The Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 - 1939) (Brisbane, Qld.: National Library of Australia). 7 May 1892. p. 891. Retrieved 23 January 2016. 
  4. ^ a b c d e "History of Bundaberg". Bundaberg Regional Council. Retrieved 21 September 2010. 
  5. ^ "HISTORY OF BUNDABERG". Bundaberg Regional Council. Retrieved 26 December 2013. 
  6. ^ Kerr, John (1998). "Report on Site Visits" (PDF): 298. Retrieved 26 December 2013. 
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External links[edit]