CITY CENTRE: A vintage photo showing the Bundy CBD in all its old-time glory.
CITY CENTRE: A vintage photo showing the Bundy CBD in all its old-time glory. Contributed

Looking back on a CBD moving into the future

IMAGINE if a city's streets could talk. What stories would they tell about the history of a place?

While Bundy's CBD can't speak for itself, the stories of the generations of people who lived their lives and built their businesses here, can.

Bundy's locals have seen the city centre develop from humble beginnings into how we know it today - lined with local businesses and on the verge of expansion.

Despite this progress into a modern way of life, many signs and tales of our history remain in plain sight on Bourbong St.

LOOKING BACK: Elsie Johnson does some shopping in the Bundaberg CBD. Behind her is the Carter's store on the corner of Targo and Bourbong Sts.
LOOKING BACK: Elsie Johnson does some shopping in the Bundaberg CBD. Behind her is the Carter's store on the corner of Targo and Bourbong Sts. Maureen Kimber

After Bundaberg Regional Council's economic director Ben Arthup last Friday revealed grand plans to rebuild the CBD, the NewsMail decided to take a look back on some of Bourbong St's milestones - some which date back to when the street was sometimes called Bourbon St.

While the modern plans include a CBD hospital, university campus, water park and new art gallery the Bourbong St of the past, while still thriving, was less extravagant.

The humble town of Bundaberg was declared a city in 1913, after revelations the city's total rateable valuation was more than 276,816 pounds, laying the foundations of future development for the city.

"Particularly so those who are proud of Bundaberg and have watched the rapid march of progress and advancement that throughout good and bad seasons has followed from the very outset of settlement ...” wrote the Bundaberg Mail.

Bundy's population doubled in the 27 years from 1886 to 1913, from 2500 to 5516 respectively.

With that boom in population, the town expanded to accommodate the newest residents.

Flash forward to this year and with nearly 100,000 residents, that figure seems like a drop in the ocean. The next year, a leap in modern medical facilities was made.

Thousands of locals flocked to see the opening of the brand new Bundaberg General Hospital by Queensland Governor Sir William MacGregor, which cost more than 16,000 pounds to build and held 64 beds.

Taking a walk along Bourbong St, the progress of the CBD in just over 100 years is most noticeable.

Sites like the Bundaberg council offices and civic centre, located alongside Buss Park, have replaced older buildings such as the Bundaberg Fire Station, built in 1918.

Further along the street, one of the most iconic sights - the Marble Digger statue - has stood proudly on the intersection of Barolin and Bourbong Sts since it was moved into place in 1921. At 11m high, its a stand-out landmark and serves as a reminder of the past.

Turn around and you look into the face of the post office building, its high clock tower and design a link to the past and the way business was run back in the late 1870s through to the early 1900s.

In true Bundy style, innovation and fresh ideas have led to its upstairs space being converted into co-working and venue hire business, the Generator.

Though the plans to regenerate the CBD aren't set in stone, one thing is for sure - Bundaberg will continue to move forward and expand.



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