2016 IN REVIEW: Tragedy at sea, fierce fires, Anzac heroes
- AL FRESCO living areas, coffee shop, movie theatre, hair salon and restaurant-quality food. A new $25 million aged care facility at Bargara promises to challenge the stereotypes.
- AXIS Property Agents principal Nicholas Petrohilos was preparing to sell 66 blocks of land in a new Kepnock development. The residential area on Greatheads Rd has recently been approved for subdivision with a total of four stages being rolled out this year. Mr Petrohilos said the land had belonged to a local family for more than 80 years and was now being developed due to a number of positive factors, including prime location and perfect timing.
- IT WAS an urgent need for a good knife while working on cattle stations that spurred Scottie Simmonds into crafting the kitchen utensil for a living. The Bundaberg man is the owner of Gidgee Knives and creates the high-quality, custom-made tool in all shapes and sizes. Mr Simmonds said knife making was an art form and required a specific range of steps to follow before the product was complete.
- A YEAR-LONG dispute between Gidarjil Development Corporation and Bundaberg Regional Council finally ended with the Aboriginal flag hoisted at the council building. Gidarjil managing director Kerry Blackman said he was overwhelmed with emotion. "Words cannot express how we feel seeing our Aboriginal flag, which we identify with as First Nation people, flying proudly,” he said, at the time.
- A HOMEOWNER arrived in time to see smoke pouring from the windows of his investment rental property in North Bundaberg. Samuel Burtt said the tenants were not home when the fire broke out at the Gavegan St house yesterday afternoon. While the cause of the fire remains unknown, Mr Burtt said the most important thing was no one was hurt.
- STATE Member for Bundaberg Leanne Donaldson called on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt to reverse their decision to cut what she said was $11.8 billion from Queensland public hospital funding. But Mr Pitt said Ms Donaldson's claims were misleading and were the same she made last year before the budget was announced.
- "THE thing I miss the most is full-cream milk. We only have long-life here.” For 24-year-old Australian Army signaller James Treasure, the simple things in life which are taken for granted have become wishful thinking in the reality of living in Iraq. Sig Treasure was deployed in the war-torn country as part of Task Group Taji.
- AUTHORITIES searched for two Bundaberg fishermen lost at sea after their trawler sank off Waddy Point, Fraser Island. The air and sea search was for Matt Roberts and David Chivers, aged 61 and 36, who were last seen working on their vessel, Cassandra, on Monday.
- FACEBOOK went into a meltdown after a Facebook user posted about the sighting of a naked man taking a shower at the Basin, Bargara. According to the post the man was seen showering near a children's playground. The post received more than 70 comments, with some suggesting the act was "disgusting”, "perverted” and "inappropriate”, while others said it was a fuss over nothing. Bundaberg police said it was illegal to be naked in public and charges could be laid for those seen to be breaking the law.
- THE Bundaberg and Region Youth Council was launched. With the support of Bundaberg Regional Council, Bundaberg MP Leanne Donaldson and East Coast Apprenticeships, Youth Council will meet to discuss issues and have the chance to table their concerns and potential solutions, including changes in legislation, with the council and Ms Donaldson's office.
- THE aerial search for two missing Bundaberg fishermen has been called off after police were told chances of their survival were slim. For two days helicopters and airplanes scoured the waters off Fraser Island for prawn trawler workers David Chivers and Matt Roberts.
- AFTER his brother was jailed, Bundaberg man Luke Arthur Blackburn was worried for his well-being without drugs. He found a teenage woman who had already been approached to smuggle drugs into prison and gave her marijuana and tablets of the drug Subutex. Blackburn was sentenced to 18 months prison.
- A VISIT to Bundaberg by the Belgian trade commissioner could facilitate mutually beneficial relationships between the regions. Vincent Swinnen met with mayor-elect Jack Dempsey and Bundaberg Sugar CEO Ray Hatt to discuss export opportunities, business relationships and education.
- FIRE gutted the Church Pharmacy building in Barolin St, leaving owner Brent Byrne in shock. The blaze, which sparked in the early hours, quickly grew, engulfing the back of the building. "It is totalled. The medications are all gone. We had to go out and buy a pen this morning. That's what is left,” Mr Byrne said.
- DETECTIVES discovered about 10kg of marijuana, with an estimated street value of more than $100,000, hidden in a car during a police road blitz. The 12-hour traffic operation 23km north of Gin Gin on the Bruce Hwy stopped every vehicle. Gin Gin officer-in-charge Sergeant Tim Marrinan said the driver of the car containing the drug haul initially returned a positive roadside drug test and a search of the car uncovered drug-related implements.
- A FRIEND of Bundaberg's David Chivers said the missing fisherman was a great bloke. Mr Chivers, 36, and Matt Roberts, 61, were aboard the Cassandra when it capsized sometime on Monday off Fraser Island. School friend Ehammed Anderson said David was the type of person who would give you the shirt off his back
- THE first pipes of the $19.8 million Bundaberg Port gas pipeline were lowered into the ground. Member for Bundaberg Leanne Donaldson joined Australian Gas Networks chief operating officer Andrew Staniford and local media for a tour as specialist welders kicked off the construction.
- A 19-YEAR-OLD woman drowned at Workmans Beach at 1770 yesterday in tragic circumstances. It is understood the woman was snorkelling at the time. Queensland Ambulance Service responded to the incident at 3.40pm and performed CPR for 20 minutes in a frantic effort to revive the young woman. Due to the remote location, paramedics had to run for 20 minutes to reach her.
- SUGARLAND Shoppingtown is set to be renamed Stockland Bundaberg after property giant Stockland bought out the remaining 50% of the centre for $61.5 million. The centre is now fully owned by Stockland, Australia's largest retail property group, after the giant acquired half of Sugarland in 2014 for $59.25 million.
- A POST-ELECTION meeting to swear in the new Bundaberg Regional Council was held, with new Mayor Jack Dempsey and the councillors taking their oath of office. After the swearing in ceremony a vote to appoint the deputy mayor was held. There were only two nominations, former Isis Shire Council mayor Bill Trevor and former Bundaberg deputy mayor David Batt. Cr Trevor was elected.
- A VIBRANT young woman with a passion for helping others is how Ashleigh Ford was remembered by those who knew the Coral Cove teenager. The 18-year-old former Shalom College student drowned at Agnes Water despite desperate efforts to save her. Miss Ford had been swimming at Workmans Beach with a small group of people, including twin sister Taylor.
- LIGHTS twinkled from the veranda of Fairymead House Roses hung from the ceiling. Chelsea Stutchbury entertained an impeccably dressed crowd who were sipping champagne on the lawn as she sang a mix of old jazz numbers and the likes of Lana Del Rey's Young and Beautiful. It felt like the set of The Great Gatsby. This was in a special start to the Flora and Fauna gala dinner, a night to celebrate not only fashion but also the stories behind it.
- THE Regional Dive Wreck Advisory Group has called on new Mayor Jack Dempsey and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to get behind the sinking of the Tobruk in Wide Bay waters. The call comes after Defence Minister Senator Marise Payne announced on Friday the decommissioned vessels, ex-HMAS ships Tobruk and Sydney, will be offered to the states and territories for the creation of dive wrecks.
- A RARE 1971 Valiant Charger helped South Kolan man Dave Zunker beat cancer. The 51-year-old was diagnosed with lymphoma five years ago. After a long battle with the disease, which included chemotherapy, stem-cell transplants and radium, he now has a clean bill of health. But Mr Zunker credits the restoration of his "dream car” as one of the reasons he survived the ordeal
- POLICE were still considering whether to clear divers to search sunken trawler boat the Cassandra for missing Bundaberg fishermen David Chivers and Matt Roberts. The families of the men took to social media as they waited for a decision. David's wife, Lyn Chivers, shared a message from the Roberts family on her Facebook page and said she hoped the authorities would make the right decision.
- A 37-YEAR-OLD man was fined more than $7500 after he evaded police, drove on the wrong side of the road and mounted the footpath - all while drunk. On September 20, 2014, Bradley Alan Davidson consumed four bourbons at Childers and then, with a blood alcohol reading of 0.085, drove north along the Bruce Hwy towards Gladstone. He was near Miriam Vale about 4pm when a mobile police unit detected him speeding at 84kmh in a 60kmh zone.
- FOUR people have been charged - two women and two men - with drug offences after police carried out raids on two Childers addresses. Detectives from the Bundaberg Criminal Investigation Branch searched two Childers homes yesterday morning where ice, marijuana, cash and prescription medication were seized by police.
- ONLY eight days after a fire damaged the toilet in an Isis Central house, the entire Queenslander burnt to the ground. The owners of the house had spent the night in Bundaberg while they awaited the insurance to fix the damage from the previous fire.
- INVESTIGATIONS into the death of a 41-year-old Bundaberg Regional Council employee will look at whether fatigue or a medical condition played a role in his death. The man, a council garbage truck driver, was found unresponsive about 1pm yesterday after emergency services were called to a private property off Mellvilles Rd at Maroondan.
- BUNDABERG is set to play host to the Down Under Rally. Rally director John Hembrow announced the Down Under Rally and the Bundaberg Port Marina had reached an agreement that would see Bundaberg Port Marina become the marina partner for this year's event. "The Down Under Rally is designed to attract international cruising vessels to Australia with Bundaberg being their port of clearance and arrival,” he said.
- LADY Elliot Island Resort being swamped with inquiries after Sir David Attenborough series aired overseas. Screenings already in Great Britain, Canada and New Zealand have seen a three-fold increase in inquiries, astounding Lady Elliot Island Resort managing director Peter Gash. Mr Gash flew to London to meet Sir David for the initial preview screening in December and said the documentary had been a real boost for the whole Great Barrier Reef.
- THE search for two men missing after a trawler capsized earlier this month off Fraser Island has switched to a new phase. A vessel believed to be the Cassandra was found about 47m below the ocean's surface. "The depth of the vessel's location means that Queensland Police Service (QPS) divers are unable to safely reach it,” a QPS statement said.
- AN INDEPENDENT alternative school to help disengaged youth reconnect through activity-based learning opened its doors to its first intake of students. Located at the Tom Quinn Community Centre, the school can take up to 20 students and opened on Monday with 15 students enrolled.
- CONCERNING figures showed the number of people charged with possessing ice in Bundaberg nearly doubled in 2015 compared to 2011, with 77 people charged with 109 offences last year. In 2011 there were 42 people charged with 70 offences. Not surprisingly the number of people charged with possessing ice utensils also jumped dramatically, with 48 people charged last year, more than three times the 2011 figure of 15.
- STRANDED divers ill with sea sickness were rescued several hours after the boat they were in lost power off the coast of Bundaberg. Volunteer Marine Rescue received a phone call saying a 23ft vessel with seven divers on board had motor problems and needed help. VMR skipper Graeme Morley and three crew members took to the water to assist the boat-full of recreational divers at 2pm.
- LADY Musgrave Experience owner Brett Lakey said he saw two killer whales, which are also known as orcas, and said they were often seen in the waters south of Lady Musgrave Island. "We were on a tour on our way back to port when I saw two killer whales making a scene,” Mr Lakey said at the time. "They are seen around the area every now and then as they are transient animals which just float around the area.”
- X FACTOR producers were hoping to find their diamond in the rough in Bundaberg. The reality singing show, which gave Bundy singer Justin Standley his first taste of fame, announced it would hold auditions at Brothers Sports Club next month.
- A MAN who was driving with a concoction of drugs in his system when he caused a crash that killed a mother and left two teenagers in wheelchairs has lost his bid to lower his nine-year jail sentence. Donald John Moody was driving between Gympie and Agnes Waters three days after Christmas in 2012 when he crossed to the wrong side of Childers Rd at Pine Creek near Bundaberg and crashed into a car carrying a family of five.
- A POLITICAL blue erupted between state MPs Leanne Donaldson and Stephen Bennett over Bundaberg's late night violence. Member for Burnett Mr Bennett claimed escalating alcohol-fuelled violence in Bundaberg's CBD was evidence the Palaszczuk Government's lockout laws were not working. But Member for Bundaberg Ms Donaldson pointed out the laws hadn't even been brought in yet.
- BUNDABERG Walkers saved 10 jobs after winning a multi-million dollar contract to upgrade four sugar mills in Mexico. With staff numbers cut late last year as the falling cost of sugar hit the Bundaberg company hard, the new contract is a much-needed win which could result in even more work in the area. Bundaberg Walkers general manager Enio Troiani said the contract was for 15,000 hours, giving 10 workers work for a year. The flow-on effect benefits the region with parts of the job subcontracted locally.
- A 48-YEAR-OLD man from Isis River died after he was hit by a gum tree while chainsawing at his private property on Saturday. He had suffered a severe head injury; it is believed the tree he was cutting down fell on top of him.
- A BUNDABERG builder took the unusual step of offering a vandal who sprayed tags on his building site signs a job. JRZ Homes director Jesse Zielke took to Facebook to urge the person to get in contact with him - in a move to address youth unemployment in Bundaberg.
- SHOPPERS at Aldi Avoca were shocked when a car smashed through the front door. A witness at the scene said they heard a large crash and turned around to see the nose of a Mitsubishi Lancer in the exit area about noon. "It was the first time I've ever seen anything like this,” she said. "It was a bit of a shock.” The driver, a grandmother, told the NewsMail she went to put her foot on the brake and it slipped off and hit the accelerator and the car went through a glass panel into the entry area.
- RESCUING cats around Bundaberg is no easy task, but things just got more difficult for a local charity with the discovery someone had been impersonating its director. Cat Connections HQ director Winnie Elise had phone calls from three clients that rang alarm bells. Cat Connections collects 15 cats a week on average and has a team of 20 foster carers who look after the cats, many of which have to be nursed back to health before finding a permanent home.
- BOATIES on the Burnett River were fed up with fishers taking over a riverside pontoon. Glen Riley and Ian Rehbein called on Bundaberg Regional Council to install a gate and security camera at the pontoon amid safety concerns for themselves and visitors. They said the rubbish, beer bottles, fish hooks and vandalism at the pontoon are a major turn-off for visiting yachties. No Fishing signs on the pontoon failed to deter anglers.
- BUNDABERG gamblers spend an average $4 million a month on poker machines, a figure that has remained consistent for at least the last three years. In the first quarter of this year more than $11,660,350 was put through the 1189 operational pokies throughout the Bundaberg region. In the same period last year $11,764,730 was the region's poker machine spend.
- LABOR candidate Tim Lawson launched the first salvo against Hinkler MP Keith Pitt in what is certain to be a long 11-week election campaign. He said the Hinkler electorate was being underrepresented by Mr Pitt who had neither the "guts” nor the "determination” to stand up for residents. But, Mr Pitt was quick to fire back. He said since elected in 2013, he has helped secure millions of dollars for the region.
- A 21-YEAR-OLD woman was stabbed at a East Bundaberg home. Emergency crews were called to the home about 10.15am yesterday. A 21-year-old female was transported to Bundaberg Hospital with injuries to one of her arms.
- A SINGLE-CAR rollover on an unsealed section of Batchlers Rd is just another reason why it should be bituminised - according to a resident who lives on the North Bundaberg road. About 8.30am yesterday emergency services were called to the crash. Julie Myers said she'd approached Bundaberg Regional Council about sealing the section of Batchlers Rd in front of her property, and yesterday's rollover was the second in a month.
- THERE were plenty of questions asked by inquisitive councillors at the first briefing meeting of the newly formed Bundaberg Regional Council team. New and returning councillors gathered at the meeting yesterday chaired by CEO Peter Byrne. As it was a first day for many, the new councillors looked to their more experienced colleagues for guidance.
- TWO people charged after a 21-year-old woman was stabbed in the arm at an East Bundaberg home were released on bail, with strict conditions to stay away from the alleged victim. Tasha Liesegang, 23, and Harley Bossom, 22, faced Bundaberg Magistrates Court yesterday, each charged with one count of unlawfully wounding, entering a dwelling with intent and stealing.
- THE battle to secure HMAS Tobruk to create a world-class dive experience has heated up after Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk agreed to join the fight for the vessel as a divewreck. While Wide Bay and Tasmania were widely tipped as favourites to secure the retired heavy landing ship, the cashed-up Gold Coast has thrown its hat in the ring to secure the Tobruk as the state's newest marine tourist attraction.
- THE NewsMail and ARM joined forces with NewsCorp to demand a fair go for Bundaberg and regional Queensland. Research shows a child born in Bundaberg has a shorter life expectancy than those born in Sydney and Melbourne.
- A FIERCE fire was destroyed a home on Fairymead Rd, leaving the owners distraught and a community reeling. The fire broke out early yesterday at the home on Fairydale Rd with Queensland Fire and Emergency Services receiving the call about 8am. Three urban trucks and up to five rural trucks battled the blaze at the two-storey Queenslander for five hours.
- A $700,000 expansion to Friendly Society Private Hospital will ensure more Bundaberg residents with a cancer diagnosis have quality treatment available without the need to travel to Brisbane. Renovations at the hospital started this week with the doctor's rooms and a purpose built, state-of-the-art day oncology unit that will more than double in size from current services. Friendly Society Private Hospital CEO Alan Cooper said the oncology expansion had been a high priority since the space became available in February.
- TRUDGING through the jungles of Papua New Guinea, with rain pelting down and bullets whistling past his head, Norman Zunker had only one thought on his mind. "When we were up in those jungles you think to yourself, 'fancy dying in a place like this',” Norman said. Norman, now 94, reflected on the Second World War on Anzac Day.
- CASTING a shadow over the 12,000-strong crowd at today's Bargara Dawn Service was the men and women on board the HMAS Yarra. The ship, carrying 46 personnel, docked at the port on Saturday morning in preparation for today's services. For many on board it was their first time visiting the Bundaberg region. as they made their way from Sydney on Wednesday up the east coast.
- BUNDABERG people were being targeted by a scam telling them they'll risk jail unless they PAID thousands of dollars. The scam startED with a menacing phone call from someone claiming to be from the Australian Taxation Office. "If you don't pay the outstanding amount of $6345 today, a warrant will be issued for your arrest, you will be put in the watch house and will have to appear before the court tomorrow,” the caller says. Kathleen Evans said her mum was shaken up by receiving one of the calls.
- DEVELOPMENT confidence was yet again booming in Bundaberg with the concrete being poured and construction under way for a brand new project on Greathead Rd. Owners of SSS Strawberries are developing a $5-million workers' accommodation site in the Kepnock area. The family-owned business has been operating in Bundaberg for 10 years, and now, the Dang family was expanding their venture by creating a space for their farm workers to call home.
- "I WASN'T proud. I was frightened. I was scared stiff.” These words recorded by a Digger echoed across Bargara foreshore yesterday morning as thousands crowded around for the Bargara Dawn Service. Led by Councillor Greg Barnes, and with the HMAS Yarra as a backdrop casting light over the dark hours of the early morning, the service left many wiping away tears. President of the Bundaberg RSL, Paul Tramacchi was forced to apologise after an organisational mix up at the Bundaberg Dawn Service yesterday. The playing of a Lone Piper and a service march, which are usually a tradition at the ceremony on Anzac Day, were missed. "We thought some time ago that the service would be held at Anzac Park, next to the Bundaberg RSL,” Mr Tramacchi said at the time. "We made changes to the organisation of the service to match this and it was unfortunately too late to revert back.”
- THE first ordinary meeting of the new council yesterday got off to a lively start, with two councillors debating a motion to apply for government funding for Stage 2 of the Bundaberg Region Multi-use Sports and Community Centre. At its ordinary meeting, the council voted to support a motion seeking to provide Expressions of Interest to the State Government under its Building our Regions fund and the Federal Government under its National Stronger Regions Fund. But the recommendation was met with some resistance from councillors Jason Bartels and Scott Rowleson, who voted against the motion.
- THE long-running tension between Isis State High School, Childers Men's Shed and Bundaberg Regional Council regarding a parcel of council-owned land has finally been put to bed. For more than year, the Childers community has been divided over council's decision last year to award land at 3A North St, which had been used by the school for its popular agriculture program for years, to the Men's Shed. But at yesterday's ordinary meeting, the council resolved to instruct the CEO to formalise a three-year lease for a 0.62ha area of council-owned land for the school to use bringing to an end the bitter division within Childers.
- THE RiverFeast crew geared up for its first ever Sunday event. Owners Greg and Karen Wittkopp said following the success of Friday nights, RiverFeast would now also be open every third Sunday. "We decided to take advantage of the long weekend this month and after that, RiverFeast will be open every third Sunday from 3pm to 7pm,” Mrs Wittkopp said.
- NEWLY elected Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey has got behind the fight to have the ex-Navy vessel HMAS Tobruk sunk in Wide Bay to create a world-class dive experience. The battle for the Tobruk heated up after Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk agreed to join the fight for the vessel as a dive wreck in Queensland.
- FUNDRAISING began for the Power family, who lost everything they owned in a devastating house fire on Friday. Queensland Fire and Emergency Services were alerted to the fire, which gutted the Fairydale Rd home in Fairymead, about 8am. The home's owners, Kerry and Steve Power, have been left with nothing. This is not the first devastating experience they have endured. The family has had a tough three years after the 2013 floods damaged the downstairs area and sheds at their home. Then last year Mr Power found out he had leukaemia.
- A WARNING to be vigilant was issued to all dog owners in the Bundaberg region following reports of dogs being taken or attempted to be taken from properties, presumably for use in organised dog fights. Bundaberg Regional Council health and regulatory services spokesman Peter Heuser said it appeared a person falsely claiming to be a council animal control officer was involved in attempting to take dogs that were roaming or were in enclosed yards.
- FISHERIES Queensland warned that people fishing for prawns around Bundaberg who go over the possession limit would be caught. Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol district officer Geoffrey Fergusson said a surveillance operation had been underway in Bundaberg following a surge in prawn catches in the Burnett River and information received from the public about alleged overfishing.
- A DISABLED man in a wheelchair has had his wallet stolen by a youth who lured him outside on the pretence of a drink of water from the tap. Unfortunately for the young boy, the whole thing was caught on camera. His sneaky actions have outraged the community. At 56 ye and confined to a wheelchair as a result of contracting meningococcal after surgery, Clinton "Captain Clint” Croft was dismayed a young boy was able to take advantage of his generous nature. Mr Croft's CCTV camera captured a young boy perfectly execute a plan to lure him outside and steal his wallet, which contained a significant amount of cash. A 13-year-old boy appeared in the Bundaberg Magistrates Court accused of the offence. A bail application was refused.
- STUDENTS across the Bundaberg and Wide Bay region are set to benefit from a $22.8m boost to TAFE Queensland's funding for the next three years. The Rescuing TAFE funding package from the State Government will create more than 660 subsidised training places across the region. The subsidies are targeted at people who already hold a qualification and are unemployed, looking for a career change or want to improve their skills in their current job.
- THE owner of Church Pharmacy told the NewsMail there would be a wait to know the extent of damage repairs to the building on Barolin St after a fire ripped through it earlier this month. Brent Byrne said his insurance company and engineers were currently assessing the building in stages. "All wooden parts of the building are coming down in the next week or two,” he said.
- BUNDABERG'S CBD Realty, which deals in commercial and business property, says demand was outweighing supply and they had a waitlist of clients looking for the right commercial venture. Agent David Radonich said a range of investors were looking for anything that was showing a respectable return on investment. "The people we've got at the moment probably range from entry level at $200,000-$300,000 up to $6-$7 million,” he said.
- LEANNE Donaldson says she's disappointed "once again in the negativity coming” from Stephen Bennett. The LNP has launched a campaign has after a poll revealed most Queenslanders oppose Labor's decision to reintroduce compulsory preferential voting. Mr Bennett, the Member for Burnett, said the My Voice Matters campaign's aim was to give Queenslanders' choice back at the ballot box. But Ms Donaldson, the Member for Bundaberg, was having none of it.