If we asked you to tell us what you know about Bundaberg, you’d undoubtedly say one thing: it’s where Bundaberg Rum comes from. And while this is most certainly true, and almost makes a visit to the coastal city worthwhile all on its own, that isn’t the only reason to make the drive north. Turns out, as well as being home to some spectacular beaches, Lady Elliot Island and the access point to a World Heritage-listed marine park, Bundaberg is a food and booze lovers haven, chock-a-block full of amazing places to eat, drink and then drink some more (this is rum country after, all).
To help you tackle it all, we've partnered with Queensland to bring you everything you need to have a delicious trip to Bundaberg, from the best restaurants and cafes to hit up to the food and drink experiences you just can’t miss. Bon appetit.
Where To Eat
The Windmill Bargara
Its white sails might be an iconic Bundaberg sight, but The Windmill Bargara isn’t just for taking pretty pictures of. Head inside to tuck into a feast of creative brunch eats, like their Southern Fried Chicken Benedict or Corn Fritter Stack. There are options for vegos and gluten-free, and on Friday evenings the cafe opens for wings and pizza, so it’s worth heading to after dark as well.
The Pocket Storehouse
Snacks are just as important as your three meals a day while on holidays, so make sure you stop by The Pocket Storehouse to stock up on fresh pastries and maybe even a loaf of organic fruit and nut sourdough to munch on when you get peckish. These guys do a heap of gluten-free goodies too, but you’ll want to get there early—they’re usually sold out by noon on weekends.
Water Street Kitchen
It was a tough choice on whether to put Water Street Kitchen down as a drinking or eating spot, because they do a mean cocktail, but in the end, it was their Szechuan honey prawns that won out. Whether you eat in their dining room or out on the leafy patio in the afternoon sun, their menu will remind of the best home-cooked dinner you ever had.
You’d think our caffeine intake would decrease on holidays, but no. Lucky Insane Caffeine is here to keep us well and truly topped up with all the lattes and cappuccinos we need, not to mention breakfasts worth lingering over, like their Brown Butter Waffles with maple syrup and ice cream
H2O Restaurant And Bar
Located inside the Burnett Riverside Hotel, H20 Restaurant is where to go for refined pub food with an international twist—think BBQ Japanese Lamb Cutlets, Red Curry Of Duck Leg and chargrilled steaks, all of which come with a suggested Australian wine pairing. Situated on the banks of the Burnett River, it also offers a great view, so be sure to ask for a table on the deck.
It may have changed owners in 2017, but the iconic Indulge Cafe is still in good hands, with sous chef Mitchell White having taken over as the new owner. Their motto is "We know where it came from and how it was made,” and you’ll find nothing but locally sourced ingredients on the menu, in dishes like their French Toast Brioche with poached peaches, praline cream, macadamia crumble and vanilla ice cream. Drool.
Where To Drink
Surprise, surprise, Bundaberg has a nightlife scene, and it comes in the form of a classy wine and cocktail bar, Bert’s. Put on that one ‘good’ outfit you brought for the trip and find yourself a cosy corner in the old-world inspired venue where you can sip on one of their signature G&Ts or classic cocktails. They also do a pretty mean tapas menu if you happen to get peckish.
Turns out Bundaberg isn’t just the home of rum—it’s also where the award-winning gin Kalki Moon is made. A distillery tour and tasting is an absolute must on your visit—the short tour of the distillery is free of charge, and you’ll get to taste one of the incredible gins at the end, before you no doubt stock up on a few bottles at the cellar door. They make vodka and liqueurs as well as gin, so you’re bound to find something that tickles your tastebuds.
Is it even a holiday if it doesn’t include a winery? Though Ohana Winery is a little different—their wines are made from lychees, pineapples and they make a range of boutique ciders too. Visit the cellar door and you can sit back and relax with a tasting paddle of their apple ciders, or head to the bar for a taste of their fruit wines, ports and liqueurs while you nibble on a local cheese platter.
Bargara Brewing Co
For all the beer lovers out there, Bargara Brewing Co’s brewhouse is the place to be, with 8 taps of locally brewed beer to drink your way through, or tasting paddles if you can’t decide which to try first. The decor is rustic, the vibe is chill and the pizzas are stupendously cheesy—what more could you ask for?
What to Do
Bundaberg Rum Visitor Experience
Well you can’t come all this way and not do it, can you? There are three different ways to take in this Queensland icon—you either can take a self-guided tour of the Museum Experience, jump on an expert-led tour of the fully operational distillery or opt for the Blend Your Own Rum Experience, which will see you learning to blend your own rum direct from the barrel. Whichever you go for, visiting the distillery store at the end to pick up a bottle is a non-negotiable.
Hinkler Hall of Aviation
Bundaberg-born Bert Hinkler was an aviation pioneer, breaking flight records, pioneering solo flight and winning medals across the globe. The Hinkler Hall of Aviation is a museum and exhibition space dedicated to his life and achievements, and may just have you wanting to take to the skies yourself.
A real, working farm set amongst beautiful bushland and bordered by a running creek, Splitters Farm offers the chance for all you city slickers to experience farm life. You can go on a self-guided walking tour to meet all the farm animals, book a picnic to enjoy in a shady spot, go swimming or fishing in the creek and even camp on site. Stay tuned for the cafe coming soon too, but for now, there’s plenty to do on your big farm day out.
Here’s a delicious reason to visit Bundaberg in the cooler months: it’s when Tinaberries opens their gates for fresh, farm-picked strawberries! From June through to October, you can stop by the farm for juicy strawberries and sweet strawberry ice cream, and in September, you can even pick strawberries for yourself—just call ahead to check for picking times.
Mon Repos Turtle Encounter
Mon Repos Beach is a stunning spot for a stroll at any time of year, but if you’re visiting Bundaberg between November and March, it’s also where sea turtles come ashore to lay their eggs, which start hatching from early January. To see them, you’ll have to book a spot on a Mon Repos Turtle Encounter when they become available in September, but be quick as they book out fast.
Where to Stay
Right on Bagara Beach, each of Manta Bagara’s private, self-contained apartments are designed to be a home-away-from-home. A full kitchen, lounge and balcony mean you’ll have plenty of room to relax in after a full day of exploring, and most apartments even have spa baths—all you need to bring is the wine.
NRMA Woodgate Beach Holiday Park
You could set up a tent on one of Woodgate Beach Holiday Park’s grassy spots—or you could do yourself a favour and just book one of their villas, cabins or safari tents. The safari tent would be our pick—it’s more like glamping than camping, with comfy beds, a kitchenette, sofa and television, air-condition and, wait for it, a free standing outdoor bath.
Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort
Want to get off the mainland and out to sea? Lady Elliot Island is a tiny coral cay at the very southern end of the Great Barrier Reef, and a few nights at the Eco Resort will put you in prime position to explore it. Spend the days going from your glamping tent to the beach, where you can snorkel the reef without needing to hop in a boat (a snorkel and fins is even included in your stay).
Bargara Beach Caravan Park
Whether you’re bringing your own tent or would prefer to sleep within the four walls of one of Bargara Beach Caravan Park’s cabins, there’s nothing like setting up shop right on the beach and staying there all holidays long. This chilled caravan park has everything you need for your stay, including a camp kitchen, kayaks and bikes for hire and free wifi—and they even welcome your dogs (on application).
Sure, Bundaberg is a rum-lovers paradise, but there's so much more to this under the radar destination. So clear a weekend, pack your bags and fill up the tank, it's time to support home-grown businesses and locals who are doing it tough right now by pledging to book a getaway in Queensland this year.
Queensland is good to go, so let's get out there! And remember, always be COVID safe and check operator details and opening times prior to travel.
Editor’s note: This article is sponsored by Queensland and proudly endorsed by Urban List. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who make Urban List possible. Click here for more information on our editorial policy.
Image credit: Tourism and Events Queensland, Visit Bundaberg Instagram, Water St Kitchen Instagram