There’s more to Bundaberg that meets the eye. Even though it’s a rather mid-sized town, the atmosphere is definitely a small-town, country one. ‘Bundy’ is famous for its dark and muddy rum (and the iconic polar bear that’s plastered on every bottle and can), but don’t assume that’s the only thing to experience – it’s a gateway to the Great Barrier Reef as well as the home to a rather rare turtle population. The beaches are stinger-free, the coastal National Parks are gorgeous, and the locals are nothing but friendly and accommodating, especially when their drink of choice kicks in. Whether you choose to spend the day in Bundy or you decide to hang out around town working on the numerous fruit farms that dot the region around town, Bundaberg is worth taking a look at.
Bundaberg is rather famous for the multitude of fruit and nut farms around it, and so many cash-strapped backpackers from all over the word tend to come here to find work harvesting, that it has almost become a rite of passage. Finding harvest work isn’t hard to do; all you need to do is contact a leading agency and they’ll set you up with a particular farm for a contracted amount of time. Furthermore, if you have a valid Australian work visa (Working Holiday only) and decide to do three months of harvest work, you’re entitled to another yearlong work visa for your troubles.
Before showing up at a farm, however, there are certain things that you need to know. First, farm work isn’t going to be a whole boatload of fun. You are expected to work every single day, and work starts in the very early morning, before the sun even rises. Take plenty of sunscreen, food and water with you, because you could be working all day. Of course you’ll be able to experience a bit of atmosphere in Bundy, but just make sure you don’t go overboard; you’ll need to be back at the farm bright and early the next day.
Bundaberg is most famous for its delicious rum, and in the tradition of alcohol production houses offering tours the distillery has gone and provided an in-depth, start-to-finish look. Make sure to wear closed-toe shoes and, if you’re over 18, make sure to stick around for the samples!
The nearby beach hamlet of Bargara provides access to a fantastic shelf of the Great Barrier Reef’s coral, near the Barolin Rocks and the Woongarra Marine Park. If you’re not into snorkelling or diving, there are some great surf spots here as well.
Bundaberg has had an issue with illegal backpacker hostels in the past (many of them were shut down in late 2008), so make sure to stay in a reputable facility. Many good ones are lined up on Bourbong Street, the main road in town, so start looking there and move outward.
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