Tag Archives: Budget Travel

When Life Gives You Molasses You Make Rum

“When life gives you molasses you make rum” and that’s what the forefathers of the Bundaberg Rum Distillery did in 1888.

Molasses is a by product of sugar cane, a major crop in this part of the world, producing up to 95% of Australia’s sugar. So the story goes that Bundaberg had all this molasses filling up all their spare barrels. There was apparently so much that it was overflowing into the streets and the local rivers making the inhabitants of the area rather concerned.

So a bunch of local growers go together, probably at the pub, to try and come up with a solution to the problem…and Bundaberg Rum was born.

Today’s distillery still stands on the original site, with 2 previous facilities having been burnt down in the same space early last century. Apparently burning distilleries give off a great fireworks show.

So Bundaberg is the current stop on our journey to the Cape and of course I couldn’t visit Bundaberg and not visit the distillery. My mum just happened to be in Bundaberg for a visit at the same time and so accompanied me.

We booked online, saves 10% off the ticket price, and we went on the guided tour so it was $22.50 each and I believe it was worth every cent. Our tour guides Lee and Sam were knowledgeable, entertaining and obviously loved rum and their jobs.

Please note: no cameras are allowed on the tour so I have no pics of the tour to put into this blog.

First stop was the massive molasses pits where the sugar mills dump the molasses, which looks like sludgy coffee at this point. From here it is cleaned and comes out a dark, clean syrup which we tasted on the tour.

The next part is the turning the molasses into alcohol (fermentation) by adding yeasts and then distilling the alcohol until it is clean and potent.

The alcohol is then matured in massive wooden vats. Each vat costs about $100,000 to build and holds about 75,000 litres of rum, retail value is $6 million. Bundy rum is matured for a minimum of 2 years, sometimes longer depending on the batch.  2 years in the government standard.

It is then diluted to the right alcohol content, tested and piped into the bottling area where the machine bottles 120 bottles a minute.

All premixes are made in NSW where unmarked tankers transport the undiluted alcohol direct to the factory outside of Sydney where they are mixed and packaged on site.

Once the tour was over we were taken to the Bundy Bar where our ticket allowed us two tastings of our choice, bargain! I was able to try the Bundy Royal Liqueur, only available to purchase onsite, as they are unable to keep up with demand for this amazing product, and the latest Master Distillers Collection 280.

Mum and I loved this tour, it was very much worth the money.

End note: unfortunately the morning after I went on this tour and wrote the blog I heard that the Bundy Rum factory is being relocated to the factory outside of Sydney. It’s incredibly sad that Bundaberg is going to lose this ionic and integral  part of the community and a massive chunk of history. 

Me with the giant bottle of Bundy Rum

Me with the giant bottle of Bundy Rum

Maryborough – Birthplace of Mary Poppins

Maryborough, a quaint historic town born in 1847, is one of Queensland’s oldest towns.

We drove into Maryborough one afternoon for a few hours, just to see what was there.

First stop, the information centre. Even on a Thursday this place was bustling. We picked up a couple of free brochures and one of the elderly gents working the information centre gave us a quick look around the Town Hall in which the visitor centre is located.

The Heritage Centre

The Heritage Centre

We decided to participate in the free self guided walking tour around the town. The brochure we were provided was a wonderful source of information with wonderful stories and a simple map to follow.

I loved walking around the town, taking some pic of the old  buildings. I read stories about  the original settlers, about births, deaths and everything inbetween. Some of the more fascinating aspects of the tour was the following (Please note, these were taken from the brochure):

Hubby with the Mary Poppins statue next to the former Australian Joint Stock Bank

Hubby with the Mary Poppins statue.

“The Former Queens Hotel was rebuilt in 1883 after the 1876 fire. The Goodwin Family opened the first hotel in 1864. In 1866 , the proprietess , a young single woman saved the life of a baby who was accidently dropped into a cesspool.”

“Former Australian Joint Stock Bank – in 1899 during the time her father was the manager of this bank, Helen Lyndon Goff was born in the residence above. Later using the pseudonym PL Tavers, she wrote the Mary Poppins series of books.”

“Riverside Apartments. In 1853, Edmund Uhr built a home for his family on this site, however the house was destroyed by a fire in 1889. During rebuilding, a headstone marking the grave of two of the Uhr children was unearthed.”

Riverside Apartments

Riverside Apartments, where the headstone marking the grave of two of the Uhr children was unearthed

“Former Customs House Hotel. The hotel was used as a setting for filming in 1989 of the movie “The Delinquents” starring Kylie Minogue.”

Former Customs House

Former Customs House

These are just a few of the intriguing sites on the walking tour, with 46 in total to see. The free self guided driving tour had plenty more sites to visit as well. All in all, a great way to spend the afternoon and a marvellous tourist experience for the budget traveller.

The Post Office - the oldest surviving masonry Post Office in QLD and the Post Office Hotel

The Post Office – the oldest surviving masonry Post Office in QLD and the Post Office Hotel