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BUNDABERG is a city in south-east Queensland, Australia, about 385 kms north of the state capital, Brisbane. It is 15 kms inland from the coast and situated on the Burnett River. It is a major centre within the broader Wide Bay–Burnett geographical region.
Bundaberg is the business centre for a major sugar cane growing area, and is well known for its namesake export, Bundaberg Rum. The city is an important tourism gateway for inland national parks and the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef and resort islands. It is the seat of the Bundaberg Regional Council.
At the 2016 Census population of the Bundaberg Significant Urban Area was 69,061.
The name was coined by surveyor John Charlton Thompson and his assistant Alfred Dale Edwards. Bunda is derived from the name of one of the kinship groups of the local Taribelang people, to which was added the Saxon suffix berg, meaning “town”. Colloquially the city is known as “Bundy”.
Bourbong Street is the main street of the city and there is some controversy in regards to its spelling and meaning; Bourbong was alternatively spelled Bourbon or Boorbong, which was a local Aboriginal title given to a large waterhole in the area. The main street was historically also gazetted in the Bundaberg Mail as “Bourbon” street, but by 1941 there is no reference to “Bourbon” street. Robert Strathdee’s farming selection in the vicinity of the watering holes was recorded on early survey maps as ‘Boorbung’.
A pioneer pastoralist of the region, Nicholas Tooth, wrote that “Bourbong” was derived from the local Aboriginal phrase “bier rabong”, meaning “plenty dead”. Tooth, who took up land in the area in the early 1860s, found that Aboriginal people resolutely avoided the “bier rabong” vicinity. He later found the skeletal remains there of around twenty Aboriginal people who were apparently massacred in a raid by the Native Police.
Bundaberg War Memorial in front of the Bundaberg Post Office, 1948
The local Aboriginal group is the Taribelang people of the Gureng nation. They are the original inhabitants of the region which stretches from the Burrum River in the south to the Burnett River in the north. The four kinship groups of the Taribelang people were called Banjurr, Barrang, Bunda and Turroine.