We were still about ten hours away from Bundaberg. I think we underestimated just how long it would take us to get up there. Knowing we had that length to drive, we didn’t plan anything for day 13, instead we drove to a campsite which took us about eight hours.

Kybong Puma Rest Area was a lovely setting by a lake with a gas station, food court, laundry, shop, showers and toilets just off the main highway. The camping area was separate to the amenities which meant it was quite a hike to the toilet. Not fun at 5am! We arrived and the sun was still shining for about an hour so we sat and soaked it up.There was so much wildlife here including huge lizards, geese, ducks, lorikeets in the trees and possibly the ugliest duck I have ever seen.It was huge and just nasty looking. Because we had time, we ventured to the nearest shop to purchase some burgers and buns to cook that evening. That duck did not want to leave us alone. We hid the food from it thinking that was what it was after but honest to god it didn’t leave for about an hour! I half imagined waking up to it sitting outside the door on the tent!

After Nathan’s fantastic shot of the night sky at our previous campsite, I tried to see if I could get one here but there were too many trees in the way so everything came out too bright.The sunset over the lake was pretty though! Saturday rolled around and we were up at 5am, showered (which cost $3) and ready to hit the rum factory by 7am. The downside was that it didn’t open until 930am! We had planned on doing laundry but that didn’t open until 8 and we wanted to get going. So a leisurely drive up to Bundaberg began. We entered, showed our ID (yessssss!!!) collected our lanyards which entitled us to sample two full drinks at the end, and headed on into the museum. The museum is set up in old, huge vats that they used to produce rum in. It took you through all of the history of Bundaberg as well as how it contributed to the community and all the range of theirs.Bundaberg rum began as a sort of accident/ingenious idea. It all started because they didn’t know what to do with all the leftover molasses from the sugar cane farm next door! They got together where all good ideas are formed, A PUB, and came up with the mission to create rum. And that is what they have done here ever since.

We wandered round the museum and took in al the history before watching a Discover Channel programme on epic factories. Our guides, Flora and Damien then collected us and we headed out to put all our belongings into a locker, including phones and watches just in case anything decided to start a fire. Therefore there aren’t any photos of the actual distillery. Insert sad face here…So, we walked across a train track which transports the sugarcane through the factory and headed in through an electric gate to where the molasses were being held. Bundaberg began distilling in 1888.

I’m sure they said something like 5 million litres of molasses which could fill all the backyard pools in Queensland. Don’t quote me on that!! All I know is that it smelt soooo sweetly good!!! Into the distillery we went and we were talked through the process and how it gets double distilled and everything, aside from bottling which gets done in Sydney now as of a month ago, gets done on site.We went into a huge room which held 300 massive vats and 600 barrels. The guys who build the vats, of which there are only four of them, get paid $100,000!! They build the vats with timber sourced from America, they get filled with water and the guys then come back to tighten the bolts once it has finished swelling.

Here we learnt some facts:

  • There is a 74% tax on alcohol in Australia so they are only charged once they have sold a bottle
  • 96% of bundaberg rum remains in Australia, 3% goes to New Zealand and 1% to the rest of the world
  • That means that $33,000,000 of rum is drunk by 25,000,000 Aussies!!!! Pretty damn impressive!!
  • The vats last 80 years
  • The factory holds $2.1 billion of rum

There was a fire in 1936 which burnt down the whole factory. They didn’t have lids on the vats, and the roof wasn’t the most lightning proof so all it took was one bolt to strike the roof and the whole thing went up. It managed to fill the river which is only 20metres away and even went as far as the ocean which is 12km away! All the fish etc died and the water burned blue for three days!!! Crazy!

The tour came to an end and we ended up in the tasting room! Our favourite place!Here, I tried the chocolate coffee liqueur whilst Nathan tried banana toffee and salted caramel. Mix it with cream over ice and you can barely taste the rum! It was surprisingly delicious! We wandered round the gift shop and then headed out. The tour was really informative and Flora and Damien were great guides! Crazy to think this Bundy rum isn’t really drank anywhere else in the world! Thinking it was the same company, we headed to ‘The Barrel,’ where the soft drinks are made.We didn’t do a tour here instead admired the amount of different flavours they had on offer! Mightily refreshing! Our journey back to the campsite took us passed fields and fields of sugar cane, some being harvested! The soil is such a rich red too! We decided to stop by Mon Repos Conservation Park where they host the largest amount of turtles nestings on the east coast of Australia. Having visited Tortuguero in Costa Rica, Turtles of Tortuguero, we were keen to see more turtle tracks on the beach!

The loggerhead turtle is endangered so this is a crucial place for them to come ashore between November and March to lay their eggs.The beach is closed off at 6pm every evening to allow the turtles privacy to lay their precious eggs, but if you want to see them, they offer tours by specialist guides. The flat back, green and leather head turtles are also known to lay their eggs here!Another reason why this area is so important is because it is where the Australian aviation pioneer, Bert Hinkler, made his first successful flight in a glider back in the year 1912!This small town is full of fascinating places! We got back to our campsite, (we decided to stay back at Kybong Puma) and cooked us some beans/spaghetti on toast.The pesky bloody duck was back again and didn’t leave us alone, nor did it shoo and then we were joined by a huge toad!The sun set beautifully again over the lake to finish out a great day!!

Until next time…