Top 10 Things to Do in Bundaberg, QLD inner banner

Top 10 Things to Do in Bundaberg, QLD

From tiny turtles and famous tipples, to high-flying heroes and heritage trains, the Queensland city of Bundaberg has a lot to recommend it as a travel destination. Work your way through these ten must-sees and dos.
Ten of the best things to do in Bundaberg
Ten of the best things to do in Bundaberg. Image: Alamy

It’s not hard to be captivated by Bundaberg and the cane country that surrounds it.

Just as they have done for more than a century, emerald fields of verdant sugarcane rising from rich red earth blanket the landscape, and as you cruise into town you get a real sense of the rural prosperity this region enjoys.

Located four and a half hours’ drive north of Brisbane, Bundaberg is the provincial hub of Queensland’s Wide Bay-Burnett region, and is billed as the southern gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. There’s plenty to recommend a stop of three or four days in the city itself. Sensational weather, welcoming locals, top notch seafood, superb beaches, a plethora of historical attractions, and one of the world’s most famous beverages are all part of the appeal.

Here’s a checklist of our top ten things to do in Bundaberg.


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Queensland Tours, Activities & Attractions


1. Witness the cycle of life for sea turtles

One of Bundaberg’s key natural attractions is its status as a nesting site for marine turtles. The region is home to the South Pacific’s most significant nesting population of the endangered loggerhead turtle. Mon Repos Turtle Centre on Mon Repos Beach is operated by the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and offers seasonal beach tours at night to witness two crucial aspects of the turtles’ life cycle — nesting and hatching. Only tour participants can access the beach at night. Time your visit for summer/early autumn if you want to take part. Nesting occurs from November to January, and the hatchlings make a run for the ocean from January through to late March.

Ten of the best things to do in Bundaberg
Visit the Mon Repos Turtle Centre from November to late March. Image: Alamy

To get up close and personal with more of the marine life that inhabits the Great Barrier Reef, consider a visit to Lady Elliot Island. The flight time from Bundaberg to the coral cay is less than 30 minutes. Snorkel off the beach, view the reef from a glass bottomed boat and dive with turtles and manta rays.

Ten of the best things to do in Bundaberg
Ten of the best things to do in Bundaberg: Lady Elliot Island. Image: Bigstock

2. Admire the city’s period architecture

Bundaberg’s surprisingly large city centre runs parallel to the Burnett River. Most of the action is centred along Bourbong Street, which is home to a tidy mash-up of modern and heritage buildings, of various architectural styles. The superbly maintained Post Office building dates back to 1891, while the former Commercial Bank of Sydney building was completed the same year. The classic revival style School of the Arts building adds an incongruous splash of Venetian-esque glamour to the streetscape. There are several historically-significant churches around town, including the neo-classical Holy Rosary Catholic Church — built in 1888.

3. See some art

Head down Barolin Street towards the river to find the Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery. With its psychedelic exterior, the building is hard to miss. It’s been a customs house and bank in previous lives, and now houses three gallery spaces that host local, national and even international exhibitions. Check the website for what’s on during your visit.

Ten of the best things to do in Bundaberg
Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery. Image: Bundaberg North Burnett Tourism

As you explore the CBD, you’ll no doubt notice the 100-metre-high mural of a humpback whale family. It was created by American marine artist Wyland, who travelled the world painting life-size whales on the sides of buildings back in the 1980s. This mural is one of two in Australia painted by the artist (the other is located in Sydney). They’re part of Wyland’s global series of 100 ‘Whaling Walls’.

4. Tour the Bundaberg Rum Distillery

It’s hard to separate Bundaberg from the world-famous Bundaberg Rum Distillery, so why bother? Just go along for the ride — whether you’re a rum fan or not. There would be few visitors to the city who don’t end up at the distillery (which even has its own museum) at some point. Created from molasses, a plentiful by-product of sugar processing, and popular with pioneering settlers, Bundaberg Rum was a nectarial match-made-in-heaven from the outset in the 1880s, and today the Bundaberg Rum Distillery is internationally renowned for its wares — which it continues to manufacture on site in Bundaberg.

Ten of the best things to do in Bundaberg
Bundaberg Rum Museum Experience. Image: Alamy

Start your visit with a self-guided tour of the interactive Bundaberg Rum Museum Experience. The interpretive displays are housed in the giant fermenting vats in a former bondstore. Entry to the museum includes two tastings. From there, devotees can also opt to take a guided tour of the distillery itself or push the boat out on the Blend Your Own Rum Experience.

It would be remiss not to enjoy at least one Dark and Stormy during your stay in this town. Insist (naturally) on Bundaberg Rum, Bundaberg Brewed Ginger Beer and fresh lime. Here’s to a legend!

Watch our video of the top things to do in Bundaberg:

Top Things to Do in Bundaberg, Queensland 2020 | City Guide – The Big Bus

Welcome to The Big Bus tour and travel guide’s YouTube channel. Only got a couple of days to get to know the city of Bundaberg in Queensland’s Wide Bay-Burne…

5. Fly high with a famous aviator

You’ll hear the name Bert Hinkler a lot during your stay in Bundaberg. Born in the city in 1892, Hinkler went on to make a significant contribution to the burgeoning aviation industry. His most significant achievements including a solo flight from England to Australia in 1928, and a solo flight across the South Atlantic in 1931 (a world first). Hinkler is honoured at Bundaberg’s state-of-the-art Hinkler Hall of Aviation — located in the Bundaberg Botanic Gardens. The museum offers a highly interactive experience, which kids — and big kids at heart — will absolutely love. Allow yourself a good two or three hours to do it justice.

Ten of the best things to do in Bundaberg
Hinkler Hall of Aviation. Image: Bundaberg North Burnett Tourism

Opposite the museum is Mon Repos cottage (known as Hinkler House), which has an intriguing backstory. It was built by Hinkler in Southampton, England, in 1925. With the aviator’s tragic death in a plane crash in 1933, the house eventually passed into the hands of local authorities. In 1983, it was dismantled brick by brick, transported to Australia, and reassembled in Bundaberg. The interior is just as it would have been back in Hinkler’s day. A self-guided tour of the house is included in the Hinkler Hall of Aviation entry fee.

Ten of the best things to do in Bundaberg
Ten of the best things to do in Bundaberg: Mon Repos cottage. Image: Adam Ford

6. Ride the Australian Sugar Cane Railway

Time your visit to the Bundaberg Botanic Gardens just right and you’ll have the complete pleasure of taking a ride on the Australian Sugar Cane Railway. This community project, operated solely by volunteers, is heaps of fun. Beautifully maintained steam and diesel locomotives pull repurposed sugar cane carriages on a circuit of the tranquil gardens. Check the Facebook page for operating dates and times.

Ten of the best things to do in Bundaberg
Australian Sugar Cane Railway, Bundaberg. Image: Adam Ford

7. Feast on fresh seafood

With its possie just a stone’s throw from the coast, it will come as no surprise that fresh seafood features prominently on most menus in Bundaberg. One of the best options for a fish feed is Grunske’s by the River. These piscatorial purveyors not only sell seafood — they catch most of it themselves. You can view the fleet of fishing boats from the deck that overlooks the Burnett River as you enjoy your seafood platter and a chilled white. The location is magic at sunset.

Ten of the best things to do in Bundaberg
Ten of the best things to do in Bundaberg: Grunske’s by the River. Image: Adam Ford

8. Sample some top local drops

Beat the heat by dropping by the Ballistic Beer Company Brewhouse (formerly the Bargara Brewing Company) on Tantitha Street for a handcrafted coldie. Try the refreshing Hawaiian Haze Pale Ale, zesty Reef Lager, or characterful Tropical Imperial Stout. The Brewhouse’s food offering includes tasting platters of local produce, and awesome pizzas. We warn you now — you may never want to leave!

9. Get a great latte

Bundaberg has a thriving cafe scene and you’ll find venues tucked away in some very cool spots. Check out Alowishus Delicious in Art Deco-era Earls Court Arcade (off Bourbong Street in the CBD). This place is super popular — so much so, that it takes up three shops. The café is open for breakfast and lunch, and also offers pre-packaged meals and house-made gelato. Just a stone’s throw from there, you’ll find relatively new-kid-on-the-block (although long term local in Bargara) The Journey in the Laneway precinct off Woongarra Street. In addition to amazing bean juice, it offers plant-based bites and a range of smoothies.

Ten of the best things to do in Bundaberg
Ten of the best things to do in Bundaberg: Oodies Café. Image: Adam Ford

On the far side of the Burnett River (but still just a five-minute drive from the city centre), Oodies Café has the shabby chic vibe nailed. Wherever you look here, there’s a story to be told. Grab a table inside or head for the covered courtyard, festooned with yet more of the owner’s collected treasures.

10. Hit the beach in Bargara

Brisbane has the Gold Coast, Cairns has Palm Cove, and Bundaberg has Bargara — a coastal retreat that’s popular with visitors and locals alike. Bargara is just a 13-kilometre drive east of the city, so it’s easy to do as a day trip. Enjoy the rolling rural countryside en route and the pristine beaches once you get there. Set aside time on your way home to visit The Hummock Lookout, which sits on top of what was once a volcano. While not massively elevated, it does provide a 360-degree view of the lush landscape.

Where to stay in Bundaberg

Econo Lodge Park Lane

Just like its London namesake, the Econo Lodge Park Lane in Bundaberg is all about location, location, location. The hotel is situated just a short walk from the CBD and is the perfect spot to base yourself to explore everything the city has to offer.

Ten of the best things to do in Bundaberg
Econo Lodge Park Lane, Bundaberg. Image: Choice Hotels

The hotel offers clean, comfortable and affordable accommodation in a variety of room types and self-contained suites. Stroll to cafes and restaurants with ease or dine in the hotel’s newly renovated restaurant. The tropical saltwater pool and spa are the ideal way to beat the afternoon heat.

The writer travelled as a guest of Choice Hotels.

For more travel inspiration, visit www.bundabergregion.org.

Browse our range of Queensland tours and experiences here.

Do you have any suggestions to add to our list of the best things to do in Bundaberg? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.

Adam Ford

About the writer

Adam Ford is editor of Top Oz Tours & Travel Ideas, and a travel TV presenter, writer, blogger, and photographer. He has travelled extensively through Europe, Asia, North America, Africa, and the Middle East. Adam worked as a travel consultant for a number of years with Flight Centre before taking up the opportunity to travel the world himself as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten. He loves to experience everything a new destination has to offer and is equally at home in a five-star Palazzo in Pisa or a home-stay in Hanoi.

 

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