Hatching turtles, sparkling white beaches and some of the best fishing spots in Queensland. They are all yours to explore in Bundaberg — the southernmost gateway to the world-renowned Great Barrier Reef. Here is a guide to this amazing city’s history and some of the most popular attractions in Bundaberg.
The original inhabitants of this region were the Aboriginal Taribelang people. British occupation of the land in the region began in 1848 when pastoral squatters William Forster and Gregory Blaxland Jnr established a sheep station.
In the early 1860s, the first cattle stations were established, and district surveyor, John Thompson Charlton, designed the city layout in 1868. He also named the city — the word Bundaberg derives from “bunda” (derived from one of the kinship groups of the local Taribelang people) and the Saxon word, “berg”, which means town. These days, most of us affectionately refer to our home town as “Bundy”.
Throughout the 1880s, large sugarcane plantations were established, as well as refineries, sugar mills and rum distilleries, all of which delivered prosperity to Bundaberg. These days, its economy is based primarily on agriculture, fishing, forestry and tourism. Commercial fruit and veg production includes bananas, avocados, beans, citrus, lychees, mangos, macadamia nuts (and the list goes on), and extensive sugar cane fields have also been developed throughout the district.
Bundaberg has a rich history and culture, and the area is one of Queensland’s most popular tourist destinations. Some of the best attractions in Bundaberg or in its surrounds include:
The Bundaberg Rum Distillery
Probably the city’s most famous attraction, Bundaberg Rum is a legendary Aussie drop and is exported to markets all over the world. Check out the museum, take a tour or even blend your own rum. Bundy is also a king-worthy tipple. Prince (now King) Charles visited the distillery for the second time in 2018 and commented, “I’m thrilled this distillery is still producing some of the special, most famous rums around the world”. Thanks Charlie!
The Bundaberg Barrel
If you prefer your drinks on the softer side, take a visit to the Bundaberg Barrel. Here you can take a self-guided tour and learn the history of this family-owned company, or book a tour where you can sample the famous Bundaberg Ginger Beer and 14 other delicious flavours.
Bundaberg Botanic Gardens
Covering 27 hectares of land, the gardens feature over 10,000 trees and shrubs, a stunning lake and a nature-themed playground. A network of boardwalks and pathways will take you through a variety of gardens, from those filled with ferns, bamboo, orchards and palms to prehistoric, Japanese, Chinese, and Australian rainforest and woodland gardens. It is also home to a range of attractions, including the Hinkler Hall of Aviation, the Australian Sugar Cane Railway, the District Historical Museum, the Fairymead House Sugar Museum and the Bundaberg and District Historical Museum.
Childers and Gin Gin
These historic towns offer so much entertainment value! In Childers, you can explore heritage-listed buildings (there are more than 25), enjoy a drink at one of the wineries or visit the reptile park (bring your camera for the crocodile feeding show). In Gin Gin, take a tour of the Mystery Craters that date back 25 million years, 4WD-it to One Tree Hill for Insta-worthy views or spend the day at Lake Monduran for some fishing or water skiing.
Fifteen minutes from Bundaberg, you’ll find Bargara. And again, there is so much to do here. Have a snorkel at The Basin, take the kids to Turtle Park, explore the rock pools at Barolin Rocks, grab some fish and chips and enjoy a lunch time picnic or check out the amazing views at The Hummock Lookout.
The Boolboonda Tunnel
Around an hour and a half from Bundaberg is the Boolboonda Tunnel, a heritage-listed feature where you can walk or drive the longest unsupported tunnel in the Southern Hemisphere. It covers over 190 metres and was originally a railway that connected Mount Perry to North Bundaberg.
This is a conservation park around 14 kilometres from Bundaberg, that is a renowned turtle rookery. The Mon Repos walking track is a stunning 4.5km coast walk that delivers you to the Mon Repos Turtle Centre, where you can learn more about the loggerhead turtle.
During the turtle breeding season (from November to March), book a Mon Repo Turtle Encounter where an expert Park Ranger will guide you to the protected beach at night where you can witness mother turtles lay their eggs or watch baby turtles hatching and taking their first steps towards the ocean!
Some of the more popular beaches around Bundaberg include:
- Bargara Beach. This beach is family-friendly and only 15 kilometres from Bundaberg. It’s a great spot for beginner surfers after some gentle waves. It’s also dog-friendly.
- Kelly’s Beach. Over the headland from Bargara Beach is a vast stretch of golden sand that is Kelly’s Beach. It’s a favourite with locals (for good reason), and the north end of the beach is great for kids with its calm and sheltered waters (ie. the perfect snorkelling spot).
- Elliott Heads. Around 20 minutes from Bundaberg, you’ll find a location where the river meets the sea, creating a unique marine landscape with so much to discover. The ocean side is dotted with rock pools (explore the ones at Dr Mays Island at low tide), and there is also excellent fishing on the riverside.
- Nielson Park Beach. Located on the north side of Bargara, this beach is fringed by large basalt rocks, which create large tidal pools buzzing with marine life — snorkel heaven!
- Moore Park Beach. Around 15 minutes from Bundaberg, the southern end of this beach is a popular spot for swimming.
- Oaks Beach. A 20-minute drive from Bundaberg, this beach is ideal for swimming, snorkelling and fishing. It also has a 200-metre stretch of beach, perfect for surfing. The best places for fishing are off the rocks in the deeper water.
- Innes Park. Fishing and scuba diving are popular experiences off the Barolin Rocks site, and there are two small beaches or a creek if you fancy a splash.
Some of the more popular camping and bushwalking spots around Bundaberg include:
- Cania Gorge National Park. Just under three hours from Bundaberg, this national park features ancient caves, sheltered gorges and towering cliffs. Take one of eight walking tracks or test your fitness with a strenuous climb to the Giant’s Chair Lookout. The views are breathtaking!
- Deepwater National Park. Around 120 kilometres north of Bundaberg, this is a quiet spot for those that like chilling on the beach, exploring rock pools or throwing out a line.
- Eurimbula National Park. 112 kilometres northwest of Bundaberg, this national park features pristine waterways, sandy beaches and windswept headlands where you can hike, fish and enjoy all that the Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park has to offer.
- Kinkuna National Park. Only 45 minutes from Bundaberg, this spot is for 4WD enthusiasts and boasts crystal-clear water for keen anglers. It also has capped numbers, so if you’re looking to camp, you won’t be haggling for space with your neighbours!
You probably know that the Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system, but did you know it has over 900 islands stretching over 2300 kilometres? Two lovely ladies that are popular choices are easily accessible from Bundaberg.
- Lady Musgrave Island. Surrounded by turquoise, marine-filled waters, this island offers activities galore, from whale watching and snorkelling to scuba diving or even just watching the underwater world go by from a glass-bottomed boat. Lady Musgrave Island is accessible by boat, and tours depart from Bundaberg (the trip takes about 2 hours) or Seventeen Seventy (the trip takes about 1.5 hours).
- Lady Elliott Island. Only accessible by air (it’s a 25-minute flight from Bundaberg Airport), Lady Elliott Islands is home to an award-winning eco-resort and unforgettable reef experiences. Hop aboard a glass-bottomed boat and get up close and personal with reef sharks, turtles and manta rays (visit between May and November, and you might even spot a humpback whale!) Then grab your mask, snorkel and fins and walk straight off the island and jump into the coral cay’s sparkling waters where you’ll see more marine life and a jaw-dropping display of ancient coral in the Coral Gardens.
The locals reckon Bundy has some of the best fishing spots in Queensland — and yep, we agree. So if you’re itching to get your tinny into the water, we’ve got two fantastic solutions. Our boat loaders are ideal for family campers and RV’ers who need somewhere to store a tinny other than on a trailer. They are custom-made for your vehicle’s load capacity and boat’s individual requirements, and come as a complete unit — no other racks are required! With a full aluminium construction, they can carry a tinny of up to four metres in length and are rack rated to 150 kilograms (depending on the vehicle you’re mounting on). And they are so easy to use — in fact, it is a one-person job. Plus, it has added usability with a 2-ton rope and a 12-volt electric winch. It really is as simple as the push of a button and a little guidance to ensure your boat moves up and down safely.
If you have a caravan, our folding boat trailers are a great option (they’re also the leading product of their class in Australia). These trailers combine the space-efficient transport of a roof-top boat with the manoeuvrability and easy launching of a trailer. No more worries about getting a campsite close enough to the water’s edge. Plus, to dismantle, all you do is fold it down to a size that allows you to store it on the back of your caravan.
So you’ve packed up the car and your tinny’s been safely secured. Now it’s time to explore some of the great spots to fish near Bundaberg. Here are our top picks:
- Burnett River. Offers a host of fishing options from Kirby’s Wall, Splitter’s Creek and the Town Reach to North Wall, Strathdee’s Rock and Skyringville. Possible catches include whiting, bream, barra, mackerel, tuna and flathead, and in the colder months, tailor, salmon, mud crabs and prawns.
- Burrum River. In terms of fishing in Bundaberg, the Burrum River is the bomb! It’s a vast system that includes the Cherwell, Isis and Gregory Rivers and common species caught include whiting, bream, flathead and estuary cod. Mud crabs can also be found here year-round.
- Kolan River. Similar to the Burnett River in terms of species mix, it’s a smaller system that has a focus on barramundi. Its tributaries are home to mangrove jack, cod and mangrove jack, and its sand flats flathead and whiting.
- Elliot River. The river has a healthy supply of flathead and whiting and upstream, cod, barramundi and mangrove jack.
- Baffle Creek. One of Queensland’s few remaining undisturbed coastal rivers, queenfish, tailor, salmon, bream, trevally, whiting, perch, barramundi, cod and perch are all here for the taking!
Pancake Creek and Middle Creek. The oyster-encrusted rocks here are magnets for bream, flathead and tarwhine. The headlands and rocks can also offer a variety of reef fish.
- Lake Gregory. Stocked with Saratoga and bass. In fact, it is one of the healthiest bass systems in the area, with bass half a metre and larger regularly being caught.
- Lake Monduran. Bass, catfish and some of the best barramundi fishing in Australia are all on offer here. In fact, in 2010, a 44kg monster was caught at the lake — a world record!
- 2023, Bundaberg, Wikipedia
- 2023, Accommodation, Bundaberg Region
- 2023, Guide to Bundaberg, Australia
- 2023, Bucket-list experiences to tick off in Childers, Bundaberg Region
- 2023, 8 Attractions not to miss in Gin Gin, Bundaberg Region
- 2023, Top things to do in Bargara: Tipples, Turtles, Tastings, Towers & more, Discover Queensland
- 2023, Botanic Gardens, Bundaberg Regional Council
- 2023, Where to sup, surf & ski in the Bundaberg region, Bundaberg Region
- 2023, Discover beautiful beaches in, Bundaberg Region
- 2023, These 5 beautiful beaches in Bundaberg are calling your name, Australian Traveller
- 2023, Cania Gorge National Park, Bundaberg Region
- 2023, Lady Musgrave Island, Queensland