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Bundaberg locator-MJC.png
Population: 46,961 (2006) [1] (30th)
Density: 489.89/km² (1,268.8/sq mi)
Established: 1870
Area: 95 km² (36.7 sq mi)
Time zone: AEST (UTC+10)
Location: 385 km (239 mi) from Brisbane
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 from space
Looking down Bourbong Street, Bundaberg town centre.
Young woman riding on the back of a turtle at Mon Repos Beach, near Bundaberg, ca. 1930.
Bundaberg town centre with Bundaberg General Post Office to the right.

Bundaberg is a city in Queensland, Australia. The city lies 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. Bundaberg is a major centre within Queensland's Wide Bay-Burnett region.

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".

The local Aboriginal group is the Gurang Gurang (goo-rang goo-rang) people.

Bundaberg has sister city agreements with Nanning, China and Settsu City, Japan.



Bundaberg as a European township was founded by timbergetters John and Gavin Steuart and Lachlan Tripp in 1867. The first farmers in the area arrived soon after. Timber was the first established industry in Bundaberg. In 1868 a sawmill was erected on the Burnett River downstream from the Steuart and Watson holdings. The city was surveyed, laid out and named Bundaberg in 1870.

Experimental sugar cane growing in the district followed and a successful industry grew. The first sugar mill was opened in 1882.[3] The early sugar industry in Bundaberg was the result of the semi-slave labour carried out by Kanaka. Bundaberg was gazetted a town in 1902 and a city in 1913. The main street is called Bourbong Street — the result of a typographical error by the local daily paper, the News-Mail. The street had originally been named Bourbon Street.


Subtropical Bundaberg is dependent to a large extent on the local sugar industry. Extensive sugar cane fields are present throughout the district and 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.[3] A bulk terminal for the export of sugar is located on the Burnett River east of Bundaberg. Another of the city's better-known exports is Bundaberg Rum, which is 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 prominent throughout the district, most notably tomatoes, zucchinis, capsicums, legumes and watermelons are grown in abundant quantities.


Tourism is an important industry to Queensland and Bundaberg is known as the 'Gateway to the Great Barrier Reef'. The city lies near the southern end of the reef in proximity to Lady Elliot and Lady Musgrave Islands. The world famous Mon Repos turtle rookery is located on the coast just east of Bundaberg, as is the town of Bargara, an increasingly popular holiday and retirement destination.

The northern bank of the Burnett River between the Don Tallon and Burnett bridges is home to a colony of flying foxes. The bats leave the river at dusk and fan out all over the city to look for food.

Tours of the famous Bundaberg Rum distillery are also popular with tourists. The Mystery Craters — mysterious water filled holes in the ground at South Kolan are also a tourist attraction.

Nearby beaches are popular with both locals and tourists. Moore Park, to the city's north, boasts 20 km 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. Mon Repos attracts tourists. Kellys Beach is popular with families, particularly in summer months.


In the city, there are 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: St. Luke's Anglican School, Shalom Catholic College, and Bundaberg Christian College. There are many public and private primary schools.


Bundaberg has a subtropical climate with hot summers and mild winters. The mean daily maximum temperature is highest in January at 30.3 Celsius, and the mean daily minimum is lowest in July at 10.0 degrees Celsius. With the coldest temperature recorded in Bundaberg a mere 0.8 degrees Celsius and some inland areas of Bundaberg sometimes receive frosts. The mean annual rainfall is 1141.0 millimetres with the rain

Climate Table
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Mean daily maximum temperature (°C) 30.3 30.0 29.3 27.5 24.8 22.4 22.0 23.2 25.2 27.1 28.7 30.1 26.7
Mean daily minimum temperature (°C) 21.3 21.2 20.0 17.4 13.9 11.3 9.9 10.7 13.4 16.5 18.8 20.6 16.3
Mean total rainfall (mm) 205.8 173.5 139.7 84.1 70.6 65.7 53.5 33.4 35.7 62.8 85.0 131.0 1142.6
Mean number of rain 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
Source: Bureau of Meteorology


View of Bundaberg town centre from the Burnett River bridge.

Bundaberg is situated at the end of the Isis Highway (State Route 3), approximately 50 km east of its junction with the Bruce Highway. 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, a vast improvement on days gone by when Bundaberg was an overnight journey away.[4] Many long-distance bus services also pass through the city. Bundaberg is also served by Bundaberg Airport, with flights to Brisbane and Lady Elliot Island. Adjacent to the airport is a campus of Central Queensland University. The city is home to the Jabiru Aircraft Company, which designs and manufactures a range of small civil utility aircraft. Bundaberg Port is located 20 kilometres 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.

People of Bundaberg


Notable residents

Bert Hinkler is memorialised in many places throughout Bundaberg

Well-known current and former inhabitants of Bundaberg include:





Most major Australian sporting codes are played in Bundaberg, including; Rowing, Basketball, Cricket, Golf, Lawn bowls, Netball, Rugby league, Soccer, Hockey and Softball.


The Bundaberg & District Tennis Senior Association operates eleven floodlit clay courts in Drinan Park, Bundaberg West at the corner of George & Powers Streets[5]. Competition tennis is played all year round. The Bundaberg & District Junior Tennis Association operate five artificial grass courts, and two granite courts at 69B George Street in Bundaberg South.


Bucca Weir, east of Bundaberg, is home to the state rowing Championships every three years.


Bundaberg is home to the Bundaberg Spirit state soccer team. They participate in the Queensland State League against other teams across Queensland.

Public health problems

Bundaberg attracted national media attention in 2005 due to the alleged incompetence of Bundaberg Base Hospital surgical director Jayant Patel (also known as "Doctor Death"), who was implicated in the deaths of up to 87 patients.

Bundaberg was also the location of another health-related disaster in January 1928, when 12 children died shortly after receiving injections of diphtheria vaccine. At the time, the vaccine was created by the toxin-antitoxin, or TAT process, where diphtheria toxin was combined with antibodies from horses, which served to eliminate the toxicity of the toxin while leaving it intact enough to stimulate a long-lasting immunological response in the recipient. The vaccine, produced by the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories in Melbourne – world renowned for the quality of its work and products – was dispensed to many of the city's children from late 1927 without incident. However, because of fears that the preservative usually included in the TAT preparation might render the vaccine ineffective, it had been left out of the batch supplied to Bundaberg. Unfortunately, the associated warning did not reach the local Medical Officer of Health, Dr Ewing Thomson, and he continued to re-use the batch of vaccine over a period of weeks, including immunising his own son. On 27 January 1928 Thomson inoculated 21 children aged from one to nine years old; over the following 36 hours 18 became very ill and 12 died. One family lost all three of their children in the disaster, and two more families watched two of their children die. Not surprisingly, the ‘Bundaberg tragedy’ or ‘serum tragedy’ – as it became known – created a media sensation both in Australia and around the world, causing a halt in diphtheria immunisation programs as far afield as New Zealand and Cape Town. Given the precarious nature of mass immunisation programs at the time, the Bundaberg tragedy also potentially compromised the careers of the Minister of Health, Dr Sir Neville Howse, and the Director General of Health, Dr (John) Howard Cumpston.

Initial fears that the TAT process had failed to neutralize the diphtheria toxin in this instance were allayed by an Australian Royal Commission.[6] This Commission, headed by the director of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, Charles Kellaway, found that the vaccine had become contaminated by Staphylococcus aureus, probably from Thomson’s imperfect sterilisation technique. In the Bundaberg heat, these bacteria had multiplied in the vaccine, contaminating the serum with a massive quantity of a different toxin (see toxic shock syndrome). As a result of this finding, the Royal Commission issued a strong recommendation, adopted by all major manufacturers, that all vaccines packaged for administration of multiple doses should incorporate an antibacterial preservative. After testing of various compounds for toxicity and compatibility with the vaccine, the optimal preservative was determined to be thiomersal, which, ironically, has now become controversial due to questions of its own toxicity. By 1931, CSL had replaced the TAT formulation with diphtheria anatoxin (or toxoid), which was claimed to be a safer product.

The Bundaberg tragedy set back the cause of mass immunisation in Australia by several years, and its consequences were remembered for decades in the town. Ewing Thomson stayed in Bundaberg for several years but then left, claiming that the fault lay with CSL’s inadequate labelling rather than his procedures. However, in addition to improving manufacturing of vaccines, the Royal Commission helped raise the profile of medical research in Australia and provided an important intellectual impetus for the future Nobel Prize winning immunologist Macfarlane Burnet, who had conducted key bacteriological work during the investigation.

Radio stations

  • ABC Wide Bay 855 AM/100.1 FM- Due to the terrain of the area, both AM and FM frequencies are used.
  • 4BU 1332 AM (commercial)
  • Sea FM 93.1 (commercial)- Part of the SEA FM network, owned by Macquarie.
  • Hitz FM 93.9 (commercial)-
  • 4DoubleB 96.3 FM (community)
  • 4BCR 94.7 FM (community)
  • 95.5 FM (narrowcast)
  • 97.1 FM (narrowcast)
  • Classic FM 98.5 FM
  • Triple J 99.3 FM
  • ABC Local Radio 100.1 MHz FM
  • Radio National 100.9 FM
  • Rebel FM 106.7 FM (Wide Bay) Australia's largest independent commercial FM radio network

In popular culture

The city has been the location for two film sets, including the 1989 film, The Delinquents, starring Kylie Minogue and the 1977 film, The Mango Tree. Both films were set in and around Bundaberg.


  1. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics (25 October 2007). "Bundaberg (Urban Centre/Locality)". 2006 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 2009-01-01.  
  2. ^ "Place Name Details" (PHP). Natural Resources and Water (Queensland). 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-13.  
  3. ^ a b Hall, James; Jill Dening (1988). Beautiful Sugar Country. West End, Queensland: Child & Associates Publishing. pp. 2. ISBN 0949267864.  
  4. ^ The Bundaberg Mail and its Day Train Counterpart Milne, Rod Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin, May, 2000 pp165-171
  5. ^ "Tennis Bundaberg Website" (PHP). Bundaberg & District Tennis Senior Association. 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-21.  
  6. ^ C.H. Kellaway, P. MacCallum, and A.H. Tebbutt, Report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Fatalities at Bundaberg (Canberra: HJ Green, 1928)

External links

Coordinates: 24°51′S 152°21′E / 24.85°S 152.35°E / -24.85; 152.35


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