WORDS BY LARINE STATHAM-BLAIR
Every great business venture, invention or piece of research starts with someone trying to answer a question or find a solution to a problem.
What do we do with all this surplus molasses? How can we make medical script writing more efficient? Can mechanisation address labour shortages? How can we help combat alarming skin cancer rates in regional Queensland?
Having an idea isn’t enough. Many great inventions never make it to market. It takes an enquiring mind, determination, large amounts of capital and a willingness to put everything on the line to turn an idea into a product or service that can be sold commercially.
Brands like Bundaberg Sugar, Bundaberg Brewed Drinks and Bundaberg Rum have made the colour yellow synonymous with Bundaberg in much the same way that royal purple belongs to Cadbury. But they’re not the only iconic brands and inventions that have put Bundaberg on the map.
Since the late 1800s the Bundaberg Region has been a powerhouse of innovation and entrepreneurship. So we’ve collated an impressive list of the top exports, natural assets and creations that have come from this Region. Some you will be familiar with, while others may surprise you. Not all were able to raise the necessary capital. Some have grown to become publicly listed companies. Several have ventured further afield, while others continue to expand their Bundaberg presence.
We are certain there are plenty we aren’t aware of, but here are the ones we could find, in no particular order, sorted by category or company. Prepare to be awe-inspired!
There is no shortage of inventors or entrepreneurs who have been inspired by Bundaberg’s glorious climate and lifestyle.
Willplay and Grillex are two national companies that enhance public spaces for young and old alike, with their locally designed and manufactured barbecues, picnic tables and playground equipment.
In 2017 a hybrid camper trailer designed and manufactured in Bundaberg by Kelly Campers placed second in the Australian Camper Trailer of the Year Awards. Kelly Campers was recently acquired by Brisbane-based Condamine Campers.
Then there are local inventors like Dr Henry Thomas, who made a prototype of a low-impact running bicycle machine named the Bionic Runner, and Demetrias Rejtano who created an all-terrain skateboard called 2WheelBoard. And not forgetting Box ‘n’ Bolt; the locally designed, recycled cardboard tunnel and tower construction kits for kids.
School teacher Leanne Baker began sharing her home organisation tips and tricks online in 2012 and has amassed 14,000 Instagram followers. Women from around the world buy her hardcover planners and enrol in her 14-day online course to learn the art of decluttering from the CQUniversity graduate.
Visit any supermarket or greengrocer in Australia and there’s a fair chance they’ll have at least one product that’s been grown, manufactured or packaged in the Bundaberg Region. This includes the likes of Bundaberg Sugar, Bundy Juice and Avo Fresh.
Since the late 1800s Bundaberg has been growing food for domestic and export consumption and finding innovative ways to use surplus produce. Today, the Region’s agricultural, forestry and fishing sector is worth about $1.2 billion. More than 50 per cent of Australia’s macadamia production occurs in Bundaberg (see page 30).
Established in 1968, Bundaberg Brewed Drinks (see page 18) has carved out a unique niche in a highly-competitive softdrink market, taking the Fleming family’s iconic ginger beer to more than 60 countries.
In 2018, Kalki Moon Classic Gin was named World’s Best Gin Under $50 at the International Wine and Spirits Awards (see page 2).
Saucer scallops, better known as Hervey Bay sea scallops, have helped put the Wide Bay Burnett Region on the culinary map (see page 54). As have local businesses like The Seafood Smokery, which took out Champion Specialty Product at the 2019 Sydney Royal Fine Food Show with their Macadamia Smoked Blue Salmon.
The Bundaberg Region is widely regarded as one of the best destinations in the world to see three unique species of elusive sea creatures in their natural environment.
Every year, migratory sea turtles, humpback whales and manta rays attract thousands of tourists to the Bundaberg Region from across the globe (read more on pages 56 & 66). Bundaberg Region businesses took out six awards at the 2021 Queensland Tourism Awards, including Hinkler Hall of Aviation, Bundaberg Distilling Company, Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort, Lady Musgrave Experience and Windmill Cafe Bargara.
Bundaberg State High School graduate and electrical engineer Alex Afflick co-created a ‘hearing test in a headphone’.
With the help of a $500,000 Kickstarter campaign in 2017, he co-founded Audeara. Now listed on the Australian Stock Exchange and based in Brisbane, Audeara’s headphones and companion app enable hearing-impaired users to customise their experience for videoconferencing, telephone calls, watching television, listening to music and gaming.
Named among Queensland’s Top 20 Entrepreneurs under 40 in 2019, local creative Morgahna Godwin developed an app in 2017 to help women holistically self-manage their endometriosis by tracking their symptoms. The Manage Endo app was later acquired by the Endometriosis Association of Queensland.
Dressed for success
Move over Byron Bay and Bondi, local sun-smart swimwear label Tribe Tropical is putting Bundaberg place names like Bargara, Mon Repos and Lady Elliot on the map. Emily Gradon’s swimwear has graced catwalks at Miami Swim Week in the US and Gold Coast Fashion Week. In 2019 Tribe Tropical won a prestigious Good Design Award.
New to the local sun-smart fashion fold is Nudicover; a highly sought-after light-weight mesh clothing brand for men, women and children that’s been purpose-designed for outdoor recreation activities and sports.
Bundaberg boutique Silver By Diamond has garnered a loyal following of country women by taking their locally-designed garments, sterling silver jewellery and leather accessories to rural sporting and agricultural events across the country.
Other success stories
- Bundaberg Rum
- Auswide Bank
- Best Practice Software
- Kix Country
- Farm Fresh Fine Foods
- Monsoon Aquatics
- Trade Now app