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10+ Awesome Free Things To Do In Bundaberg

What do you think you think of when you think of Bundaberg? Bundaberg Rum, probably, which would then likely be followed up by the Bundy Bear, their adorable seven-foot-tall, rum guzzling mascot. While the velvety smooth alcohol and their endearing polar bear are synonymous with Bundaberg, they’re only part of the regional city’s charm. So, while you can’t nurse their range of liquors for nothing, heading over the Bundaberg Distillery is still a must, but there are also plenty of fantastic free things to do in Bundaberg that the budget-conscious traveller can enjoy.

Bundaberg.

Take A Selfie With The Bundaberg Rum Bottle.

Bundaberg Rum Distillery.

Australia loves its Big Things. Scattered throughout towns across the country are oversized tourist attractions that are shoutouts to what makes the town tick. Nambour has the Big Pineapple, Tamworth’s got the Big Golden Guitar, and Goulburn has the Big Ram

There are also quirkier Big Things like, for some reason, Kiama has a Big Poo. That would have been an intriguing meeting. “Let’s attract people by putting a giant turd in our town so visitors can all get family pics with excrement.”

Ah, the Aussie sense of humour. It’s not even a good bog roll. It’s not spiral-shaped or anything.

For Bundaberg, they went for something with a little less potty humour. They decided to honour the nectar forged from the local sugarcane fields by setting up the Big Bundaberg Rum Bottle outside the distillery that makes the rum known the world over.

Even if drinking is not your style or you don’t have the cash to splash on the range of liquors etc, drop by anyway and get a selfie with the Bundaberg Rum Bottle situated outside. It is essentially a right of passage for all those who pass through the regional city to get a snapshot with the Big Bottle and makes an instantly recognizable shot showing you’ve been to Bundy.

Bundaberg Rum Bottle
Getting selfies with The Big Rum Bottle is a must

See How They Brew.

The Bundaberg Barrel.

In addition to making the smooth liquor enjoyed by adults the world over, Bundaberg is also home to a company that crafts a series of non-alcoholic beverages that people of any age can enjoy. 

The Bundaberg Barrel is a gorgeously designed building that is the tourist sector of the Bundaberg Brews Company. Inside the stunning half barrel, you can stock up on their drinks or taste some of their selections on a paid part of the experience. 

But there is a short self-guided tour section of the Bundaberg Barrel that won’t cost you a penny. Through a heavy metal door, a mock-factory setting showcasing how the brewing process goes is unveiled. It is a fascinating insight into how these drinks are crafted and is a great free thing to do in Bundaberg, especially if short on time or if it is a searingly hot or rainy day.

Bundaberg Barrel
The unmissable shape of the Bundaberg Barrel
Bundaberg Barrel - Self Guided Tour/ Mock Factory
Inside the Self-Guided Mock Factory Tour section

Take A Mini-Escape From The City.

Alexandra Park.

If you need an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city without venturing too far, a great place to visit within walking distance from the CBD is Alexandra Park.

Alexandra Park is a beautiful parkland situated on the mighty Burnett River and is an ideal place to hole up when you want a peaceful place to have lunch. But what sets it apart from many other parks is the boardwalk that extends provides gorgeous views of the river that makes stopping in Alexandra Park a must when exploring the city of Bundaberg.

Take A Stroll Through Some Gardens.

Bundaberg Botanical Gardens.

After a while, being in the city for too long can drain your batteries, and nature is usually a good recharger. Alexandra Park is lovely, but it is more of a picnic spot. For a place that has a more immersive nature experience that does not stray too far away from Bundaberg CBD, head over to Bundaberg Botanical Gardens.

As it’s a much larger place than Alexandra Park, the botanical gardens are a great place to roam. Lose an hour or two gently wandering through the different sections of the park, or haul in some snacks and park your butt on a blanket and picnic there, or pull out the camera and shoot the abundant birdlife that calls the place home.

It’s such a relaxing place to be and will make you completely forget that you’re smack bang in the middle of a large regional city.

Hinkler House in the Bundaberg Botanical Gardens
The Hinkler House isn’t free to go inside but it’s beautiful to see from the outside
Chinese Garden, Bundaberg Botanical Gardens
Chinese Garden

Coastal Fringes.

While the city of Bundaberg sits on a river inland from the sea, the greater region of Bundaberg extends out to the ocean providing kilometres and kilometres of serene oceanfront, which you can enjoy in a multitude of ways.

Get High(er Elevation).

Hummock Lookout.

As you make your way around Bundaberg, you’ll notice there isn’t a whole lot going on with the landscape. Sure the fringes of the region have some undulating hills, but the closer you get to the regional city, the more you’ll wonder what the hell happened to the mountains. Yeah, it’s exceedingly flat, making it pretty visually unexciting to drive around. But not all is lost because there’s one fantastic lookout that helps make up for the lack of mountainous scenery everywhere else.

Hummock Lookout sits on the only hilltop east of the region’s fringes and provides magnificent uninterrupted panoramic views. From here, you’ll come to understand the vastness of the Bundabergs sugarcane growing industry while also being able to observe the city at the heart of the region and the gaze across the coastal towns to see the ocean, making this magnificent lookout one of the best free things you can do in Bundaberg.

Take The Heat Off And Go Swimming.

Nielsons Beach & Kellys Beach.

Often, the first thing people generally think of when they want to head to the coast is whether you can swim there. The answer for Bundaberg is yes, but not everywhere. 

While Queensland is famous for its spectacular sandy beaches, the oceanfront around Bundaberg doesn’t quite play into the beach imagery that the state claims to have. There are a lot of volcanic black rocks speckling the shores up and down the coastline that will not make your salty bathing adventure the joyful dip you were hoping for. 

With that said, there are still a handful of areas where you can chuck on the togs and immerse yourself in the sandy goodness of the ocean without ending up covered in bruises. 

Places like Nielsons Beach and Kellys Beach at the biggest coastal township of Bargara are popular (seasonally?) patrolled beaches, while Oaks Beach at Burnett Heads provides a quieter experience where you are also under the watchful eye of lifeguards.

See What’s Below Sea Level.

The Basin, Barolin Rocks, Burkitts Reef.

Taking things a step further, did you know that Bundaberg caps off the end of the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef, the most prolific marine ecosystem on the planet?

While the region’s best snorkelling areas surround the distant offshore islands of Lady Musgrave Island and Lady Elliot Island, they will cost a chunk of change to get to. While it is worth every penny to get the opportunity to explore the spectacular underwater world, it is not a feasible option for many people.

Luckily, the reef and the marine life aren’t limited to only those islands. While not as vast and breathtaking as the aforementioned islands, places such as Burkitts Reef (out from Bargara), The Basin, and the Barolin Rocks Dive Site are all beautiful places where you can get a taste of what lurks beneath.

Places such as Burkitt’s Reef and Barolin Rocks are fantastic places to experience a vibrant underwater world for first-time snorkelers. But you’ll need to have on a super calm day for the best results. Otherwise, it’ll be choppy and murky as hell.

Even if the water isn’t glassy, Barolin Rocks is still a great place to visit. Not only are the rocks themselves beautiful, but the rock pools themselves have coral and fish living in them too.

On the other hand, The Basin is a perfect place to snorkel any time. This sheltered swimming area came to be when South Islanders needed a safe place to take a dip in the ocean after long days slogging it in the sugar cane fields. At the far end, you’ll find corals growing on the rocks, while closer to shore, tiny fish dart around in the shallows as you walk by.

The Basin, Bargara, Bundaberg
The Basin

Discover Nesting Sea Turtles.

Mon Repos Beach.

Continuing with the underwater theme, another thing that Bundaberg is famous for is its sea turtles. This region is the capital of these majestic marine animals, and you can snorkel with them year-round.

But at certain times of the year, female Green, Loggerhead and Hawkesbury Turtles haul themselves up onto the beaches around, plonk their ping pong-esque eggs into a dugout and leave them to incubate for a few months. A few months later, tiny hatchlings emerge from their warm, sandy nests and waddle their adorably fragile butts towards the ocean to live out the rest of their days. (If they get to live that long. Sorry kids, nature is a brutal business. And they’ll be lucky if they can even make it off the beach. Them’s the way it goes for the turtles, I’m afraid.)

And you can see all that in the flesh! (Although ideally not the hatchlings getting picked off one by one. Awkward.) While you can see them on the Lady Elliot Island or Lady Musgrave Island if you stay overnight or at the Mon Repos Turtle Centre tour with researchers at night during these special times of the year, they cost coins. While they provide excellent opportunities to see the incredible sea-dwelling creatures, dropping dollars isn’t what this list is about.

So if your budget is a little tight, but you still want to see a turtle, try heading down to the Mon Repos Beach and cross your fingers. During turtle season, the beach is closed to the public between 6 pm and 6 am allowing the turtles to lay their eggs without disturbance, but should Lady Luck be on your side, you may get to see some of the beautiful oceanic creatures clambering up and down the beach during the sunrise or sunset hours.

Take A Long, Scenic Stroll Along The Coast.

Coral Isles Coastal Pathway.

Even if you dislike the idea of floating like chum in the water, another fantastic free thing you can do in the Bundaberg region is to walk or cycle one Coral Isles Coastal Pathways

The four separate sections of the walking trail are an easy-low impact way to burn some calories while scoring some gorgeous oceanic views at the same time.

Depending on where you hit up, you can discover gorgeous quaint seaside towns, picturesque coastal headlands, as well as some beautiful small stretches of beach, an island that harbours rare birds or a lighthouse. 

The best thing about it is, it’s an easy trail and largely wheelchair accessible making it a fantastic outing for people of all ability types.

*The section between Bargara and Burnett Heads also includes the Mon Repos Turtle Trail.

Childers.

Surrounded by beautiful undulating scenery, Childers is a quaint little town south of the city of Bundaberg. While there’s not a whole heap here, there is one must free thing to do when coming through this picturesque town on the Bruce Highway.

Visit the Childers Backpackers Memorial.

Childers Information Centre.

On 23 June 2000, some asshat deliberately lit the Palace Backpackers Hotel in Childers on fire, killing 15 people of the 80 people staying there that night. Today, the building stands as a memorial to those who lost their lives during the tragedy whilst also serving as an art gallery and a visitor information centre.

You can pay respects to the guests who perished in the fire by heading upstairs to see a beautiful glass display dedicated to them. What makes the memorial so poignant is how the collage of photos help portray a story of who the victims were as people, the adventures and life they enjoyed before their life was sadly cut short. It’s a powerful reminder of the fragility of life and the importance of living it.

Childers Backpackers Memorial & Information Centre
You can’t take photos of the memorial itself, so here’s the beautiful courtyard

Take It Slow On A Peaceful Lake.

Lake Monduran/Fred Haig Dam. 

If you’re looking for a place that’s away from it all, Bundaberg’s lake that holds their main water supply in the northwest of the region is a fantastic venture into the country. Take a picnic and dine on some home bought goodies at the lookout or cruise the Fred Haig Dam Wall for some lovely scenic views, but to make the most of this calm, serene lake, you need to hit Lake Monduran waters. 

Launch a dingy or grab the jetski and let the wind whip up your hair by venturing out at one of the two boat ramps the lake has to offer. Or for a slower and more spiritual way to explore the waterway, paddle out in a canoe and glide across the calm waters and forget about life for a while.

Bundaberg may be known for creating velvety smooth rum, but while the alcohol may be a great reason to visit the city and surrounds, it’s only scratching the surface of what this Wide-Bay Burnett subregion has to offer. While the more iconic experiences cost dollars – some of them a lot of dollars – there’s also a hell of a lot of free things you can do in Bundaberg that’ll leave you with fond memories and a content heart.

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