Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Bundaberg on The Burnett River

Early morning Town Reach Bundaberg on the Burnett River
One of the best things about having a boat is that we can get to places other people can't easily go.  It's often a challenge, there's always a reward.

Sights along the way
The guide books can't be trusted.  Even current editions can be wildly optomistic.  Markers along the way can disappear; either they've been hit by something or dislodged due to cyclonic wind and waves.  Shoals come and go and nothing changes the characteristics of a river like a flood.

Nice new boardwalk along the riverbank

Poor Bundaberg has suffered two devastating floods, 2011 and 2013.  We expect that the river has changed but we don't know to what extent.  Our guide book is two editions out of date so we do some checking online and we find a website confirming there is indeed a fuel dock up the Burnett River in Bundaberg.  We could refuel at the Port Marina but we'd like to wind our way the ten miles upriver to spend a day or two in the town itself and get our fuel while there.

We need to be constantly vigilant, carefully following navigation markers.

We're following the chart plotter at the helm, plus the paper chart, using binoculars to pinpoint navigation markers and looking for floating debris which is always a possibility.  It's very shallow for much of the river up this far.  At one point we register only eight feet and although it's not the top of the tide, we still have a few hours before dead low.

Along the way we pass obvious signs of the floods; the occasional washed up boat, wrecked docks, dead trees, eroded riverbanks and destroyed retaining walls.  There are also signs of recovery and some large new homes alongside tired old ones. Once we've anchored at Town Reach we see a great new boardwalk with sturdy new docks.  No sign of the fuel dock or the Midtown Marina.  No, it was all washed away in the last flood.  There are no services for boats at the town end of the river, apart from the public dock.
Sugar cane design. Representing Bundaberg's past and present. 

It's Robert's birthday.  He's had a look through the online reviews of local restaurants and decided on Indulge Bistro Cafe for "linner"; late lunch/early dinner.  It turns out we are in luck.  Maybe I've been on the boat too long but I've fallen in love with this place.  From the wildly botanical wallpaper to the exciting array of unique desserts presented in the case, they are really speaking my language!  Even the menu itself is written like an enticing, beguiling guide to local produce.  I can't get enough of this.  It might be Robert's birthday but I'm having all the treats.

St Andrew's Seventh Day Adventist Church foundation stone laid 1931

Bundaberg is a beautiful city to walk around because so much of it's history has been preserved in its architecture.  If the grandeur of the city's churches are an indication of Bundagerg's significance as a rural centre then there's no denying sugar has historically been good to the region.  In fact Bundaberg Sugar is the largest sugar grower in Australia and Bundaberg is of course home to the famous Bundaberg Rum.  We past the distillary and the sugar processing mill on the river just a short distance from town.

Charming Bundaberg Railway Station

We've enjoyed our time in this charming rural city, population around 100,000.  Strong winds are forecast for the next couple of days.  We need to move on towards Fraser Island but first we'll anchor overnight close to the mouth, keeping an eye on weather conditions, and fuel up in the morning at the Port.

This boat isn't going anywhere in the 30 knot winds.  She's well-anchored and stuck in the mud with her back to the mangroves.  

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