Bundaberg, Tuesday 21 to Wednesday 22 May 2019

We decided on having a day in Bundaberg based out of Woodgate Beach because we had some difficulty finding dog-friendly accommodation. On the drive to Bundaberg on Tuesday we encountered our first rail crossing where we were stopped to wait for a train.

Stopped at a rail crossing

Everyone has had, or at least heard of, Bundaberg Ginger Beer. Well, it is actually made in Bundaberg, along with 16 other varieties of soft drinks. The company has a visitor centre called The Barrel. For $12, a person gets a self-guided tour of a museum showing how the ginger beer is made and packed, a taste of all 17 flavours, and a six-pack of 375 ml bottles of one’s choosing. This has to be awesome value! Katie and I were some of the first customers of the day.

I was surprised to learn that all the soft drinks made here are brewed, that is fermented, from one to four days. This creates alcohol, of course, but most of the alcohol is driven off when the wort is heated and the yeast is killed to stop the fermentation. I know that some alcoholic ginger beers are made by adding alcohol to a soft drink. However, I am now intrigued to see if anyone brews alcoholic ginger beer like a conventional beer and leaves the generated alcohol in.

It is not surprising that the soft drink factory is very highly automated. The museum uses cameras that are set up in the factory. We only saw one human being from all the cameras that we must have watched for about 20 minutes.

Katie and I came away with a carton of 24 diet ginger beer stubbies, a half carton of 12 pink grapefuit stubbies, a 6-pack of pineapple and coconut stubbies, and two mixed six-packs from the cost of the tour. I bought diet ginger beer because it has more ginger in it relevant to the traditional ginger beer, and it does contain less added sugar. I thought that the ginger beer would be useful to make Dark and Stormy with rum. The pineapple and coconut drink would go well with a white rum.

The Barrel at Bundaberg
Tasting 17 soft drinks with Kevin

We were advised by staff at the Woodgate Beach Caravan Park to try Grunske’s by the River for a fresh seafood lunch in Bundaberg. Sounded good, but it was not dog friendly. We found a parking spot next to both Grunske’s and the Burnett River. All the seafood at Grunske’s, except the Tasmanian salmon, is locally caught. We bought some seafood for lunch—crumbed mackerel, some calamari, and a seafood basket, washed down with a Bundaberg guava drink. We also bought some cooked prawns and some smoked mackerel for our fridge. The place is licensed, but very casual. It would be nice to have a sit down meal there, but we enjoyed our lunch in Matilda overlooking the river. Dexter scored more than one chip.

Nice parking spot to eat our seafood lunch by the Burnett River

In the afternoon, Ian booked a tour of the Bundaberg Rum Distillery. The museum in the distillery is amazing. On the tour we were taken through the rum making process, which Ian was quite ignorant about. The electric fences around the distillery were daunting—apparently they are essential to keep out people who have more than a healthy liking for the rum. We learned the story of the polar bear mascot, Bundy R Bear, and the distinctive square Bundy rum bottle, which were devised by Sam McMahon, brother of past Australian prime minister Billy McMahon. McMahon actually means “son of bear” in Irish, and that is why an Australian rum has a polar bear mascot rather than an Australian animal.

The Bundaberg Rum Distillery
Amazed to find a huge range of rums
Bundy R Bear in person

The tour included two full drinks—one of any rum, and one of a rum liqueur. One of the rums was recommended for those who don’t drink rum but who like Scotch whisky, so I went for this. It was perfect, but at $179 a bottle, I would have expected it to be. I had the liqueur neat and with some soda water, but was not impressed. I ended up buying a Reserve rum that was recommended for mixing with ginger beer to make a Dark and Stormy. I also bought a Bundy Rum glass.

While we were at Bundaberg Brewed Drinks we found a brochure on a relatively new distillery in town called Kalki Moon. We decided to visit on the way through Bundaberg to Agnes Water on the Wednesday. Rick, the owner, was very welcoming. He used to work at the Bundaberg Rum Distillery, but left to start his own distilling business with his wife. He makes rum, gin and liqueurs, but the rum is still ageing—it has to be aged for at least two years before it can be released as rum. Rick explained the gin making process to Ian and Katie. The gin starts life as a raw alcohol, which is purchased. It is mixed with juniper and other aromatic plants and then redistilled to make gin. Gin must involve juniper—if not, it is vodka. He makes three varieties of gin—a standard gin with 37% alcohol and a small range of aromatics, a middle of the road gin with a wider range of aromatics, and a top of the range Navy gin with the most alcohol and the widest range of aromatics. We each tasted some gin as mixed drinks. The standard gin was said to be good with muddled lime and ginger beer to make a Gin Gin Mule. Gin Gin is a nearby town. The standard gin was also good with Bundaberg grapefruit drink. The pink gin liqueur is infused with elderflower and rose, and is good with soda water. We bought a bottle of the standard gin and a bottle of the pink gin liqueur. Rick was interested in our travels, so we showed him through Matilda.

Kalki Moon Distillery
Ian at the tasting bar with owner Rick
Kalki Moon’s small barrel reserve rums ageing gracefully

So, Bundaberg provided us with insights into three drink making businesses, and a local seafood purveyor. Good memories, which will be stirred up whenever we have a Bundaberg soft drink, a Bundy rum, or a gin mixer. We also stopped at a shopping mall for lunch on the Wednesday and to stock up on provisions before heading off to Agnes Water.

Woodgate Beach, Saturday 18 to Wednesday 22 May 2019

On Saturday, we drove north from Cooroy and checked into the Woodgate Beach NRMA Caravan Park. This park is located across the road from a beach that must be about 10 km long. We had a concrete slab, which we found enabled us to keep the motorhome a bit cleaner. We put up the awning and the wall that attaches to the end of the awning. We were near the facilities and a dump point, the Serenity Cove Café is at the entrance of the Park, and there is also a convenience store selling essential items such as icecream. For dinner tonight, Katie made a pork, veggie and noodle stir fry dish, and we had Jenny’s leftover fruit and custard flan for dessert.

Our campsite at Woodgate Beach Caravan Park

The 18 May was Federal Election day. We voted before leaving home as we were uncertain where we would be on the day. We watched the election result that night on our TV with quite poor reception. Everyone had predicted a Labor victory, but by the end of the night it looked like the Coalition had won, possibly even with a small majority. What a surprise, and I must say, a pleasing one for a change. We felt that after the Rudd – Gillard – Rudd debacle not that long ago, current Labor would struggle to run a chook raffle competently, despite the strong reforms undertaken by Labor in the Hawke – Keating years. Of course, Tony Abbot and Peter Dutton damaged the Liberal Party significantly by overthrowing Malcolm Turnbull, and we think it is fitting that Tony Abbot lost his seat. Peter Dutton is still there, so our current PM needs to watch his back.

It was sad that just before the election, Bob Hawke passed away. He was an impressive leader of a political party and a country in his day, and we wonder whether we will see anyone that comes close to his leadership ability in our lifetimes.

We started Sunday at Woodgate Beach with a family walk south to Banksia Park looking for a dog lead-free area. At the time we thought it was at the other end of the park, so we simply retraced our steps along the concrete path. However, we found out later that dogs are allowed on the main stretch of the beach on lead, and they are allowed off-lead on the beach from Banksia Park southwards, and north of the boat ramp opposite the pub. Katie shouted breakfast at the Serenity Cove Café and we enjoyed a Canadian breakfast of pancakes with bacon and maple syrup, and coffee.

Canadian breakfast of pancakes with bacon and maple syrup, with coffee. Doesn’t get much better!

One interesting observation was that many places we had visited so far are dog friendly. It was common to find dog water bowls at street corners, front door of libraries, and near toilet amenities.

It was a good day for catching up with washing clothes and writing our travel blog. We shared the responsibility of writing up our blog, with most of the writing initiated by Katie (the Possum), and further text and photos added by Ian, who posted our entries to our web site.

Ian lifted the Trek mountain bike off the back of Matilda and took a long bicycle ride south along the path to Banksia Park, looking for an off-lead dog beach. He went on the beach and continued south on the hard sand for a fair way, then turned around and headed north until the sand became rather soft past the caravan park. He continued on the path to the pub and boat ramp, and then back along the path to the caravan park. This was the longest bicycle ride in months and took him 1 hour 20 minutes. He thoroughly enjoyed it even though his legs felt as though they had done some work.

Woodgate Beach looking south. Cycling along the beach was a novel experience.
Woodgate Beach looking north in the late afternoon

Ian then took Dexter for an afternoon paddle at the beach on lead. On this holiday, Dexter has enjoyed his beach time.

Sunday night was the best night of sleep for both of us—Katie slept in while Ian took Dexter for a morning walk on the beach. Ian made porridge for breakfast for the first time this trip. We then planned for the next few days.

In the afternoon, Ian took Dexter for a long walk to Banksia Park along the concrete path, and then onto the beach where Dexter could legally run off-lead. The tide was out, and he chased a tennis ball and a red squeaky plastic stick that floats along the sand flat and in the shallow water. We walked back along the beach that was supposed to be for dogs on lead, but as the beach was almost deserted, Dexter did break the law and go most of the way lead-free.

Dexter retrieving a tennis ball at the beach

Ian rode his bicycle into the supermarket to buy rissoles for dinner.

Ian rose early on Monday morning and took Dexter to the beach again, this time to see the sunrise. After breakfast, we drove into Bundaberg for the day—please see our separate post on this. Dexter had another 10 minute run on the off-lead part of the beach north of the boat ramp when we got back from Bundy. This was clearly not long enough for him, for Dexter bolted back to the beach after we toweled him down instead of jumping into Matilda. We enjoyed fresh prawn sangers from Bundy for dinner.

Sunrise over Woodgate Beach

We left Woodgate Beach on the Wednesday morning to drive north to Agnes Water via Bundaberg. We concur with friends Grant and Jacqui that Woodgate Beach is a perfect place to relax and get away from the crowds. The weather was kind, and the caravan park is in an ideal location.