Kick off the Milbi Festival with a bang: 4 day stay and play guide - Bundaberg Region
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Kick off the Milbi Festival with a bang: 4 day stay and play guide

Guest Blogger Bio Jess Marsellos

If big name musical acts like Dami Im, Ash Grunwald, Alex Lloyd and Busby Marou aren’t enough to peak your interest then how about dressing up for a Gala Ball, art gallery walks and talks celebrating Eddie Mabo, a film retrospective of David Gulpilli, turtle talks with a leading scientific officer and beach clean ups to help our marine friends sound? This is the Milbi Festival and it’s a packed program over 10 days in the Bundaberg region.

The Milbi Festival has grown exponentially in just two years and highlights and celebrates our marine turtle friends who have made Mon Repos the largest concentration of nesting marine turtles on the Eastern Australian mainland. Here is our four-day, make the most of your stay and get up close and personal with the gorgeous natural home of our seaside friends who visit year after year, and we know you will want to come back after your time exploring, tasting and sightseeing.


Whether you’re seeking ocean views or a getaway where convenience is at your fingertips, we’ve got a range of accommodation options for you to rest your head and make yourself feel at home. With boutique shops, bustling cafes and eateries all within reach, settle into the charming town of Bundaberg and explore the heritage laced streets all within a short walk from your room. If you’re wanting something more coastal, Bargara and the Coral Coast offer family-friendly resorts, oceanfront self-contained apartments and stunning beaches made for a relaxing beachside escape.


Day 1: Join the sunset launch of Milbi Festival

After you have settled in let the good times roll and head to Nielsons Park at Bargara. Join in this free sunset launch of the Milbi Festival with a special lantern lit March of the Reef performance by community members and the Dead Puppet Society. Dami Im will headline the stage, doubling as a launch for her new album, as well as a special welcome to country and traditional smoking ceremony by traditional owners.

When: Friday 29 October
Time: 4:30 - 6:30pm
Where: Nielsons Park, Bargara
Cost: Free

If you didn’t get food from one of the vendors at the park or just want to kick on with a drink, head to the Bargara Beach Hotel just around the corner.

Day 2: On your bike, lunch and afternoon festival hangs

7:30am - Fuel up for the day ahead and grab a bite by the beach and coffee at The Beach Mill Cafe on Nielson’s Beach. They have bacon and egg burgers, croissants and some basic breakfast fare along with a nice hot coffee to go with the awesome morning view of the ocean.


8:30am - If you have bikes, great! If not, you can hire them from BIG4 Breeze Holiday Park or you can choose to walk, it’s beautiful and fun no matter which way you do it. Kick off at Nielsons Park and follow the path as it takes you along the turtle trail. You can choose your adventure here, pop by Mon Repos (the turtle beach) and stop at the picnic tables on the Northern End for a beach explore or travel further along taking in the whole coastline through to Burnett Heads. It’s a truly magnificent ride - lush oasis of dense bush in patches and lots of native birdsong to meander along to. There is so much natural wildlife and wonder on this track - both fauna and flora. Take water and sunscreen (and your togs if you fancy a dip).

If you prefer four wheels to two, then you can enjoy much of what the turtle trail path affords you by visiting many of the spots mentioned by car. You can pop into the Mon Repos Turtle Centre and take a walk down the boardwalk to the beach, stop by Oaks Beach at Burnett Heads for a swim and then head to the Milbi Festival at the Lighthouse for some more festivities.

12 noon Lunch, market and tunes - Milbi at the lighthouse is another Milbi Festival event, with Alex Lloyd and Ash Grunwald heading alongside some local performers. There will be stilt walkers, an artisan market and lots of food vendors to choose from, or you can pack your own picnic full of lots of lovely local produce to chow down on.

When: Saturday 30 October
Time: 11am to 9pm
Where: Jack Norgate Oval, Burnett Heads
Cost: Gold coin donation

4pm - After your days adventures, exercise and fun, you might want to enjoy an ice cream by the beach before heading into Bundaberg for a special evening event. You can grab a scoop from Beach Treats on the Esplanade at Bargara.

6:30pm - Head to the Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery for an intimate evening with Gail Mabo as part of the Legacy: Reflections on Mabo exhibition. Gail Mabo (Eddie Mabo’s daughter) is co-curator of this exhibition and will provide conversation and deeper insights into Eddie Mabo and his instrumental role in campaigning for Indigeous land rights. The evening is ticketed and includes bush tucker style canapes, drinks and entry.

When: Saturday 30 October
Where: Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery, 1 Barolin St, Bundaberg
Time: 6:30 - 8:30pm
Tickets: $80 per person available here

 Day 3: Breakfast, steam train and afternoon film

Time to explore a different part of Bundaberg, a little bit further away from the beach. Alowishus Delicious in Bundaberg is stop number one for a delicious breakfast, smooth coffee or creamy milkshake. Alowishus is the perfect place to set the pace for your Sunday swagger. Try sinking your teeth into their delicious Alowishus Fritters or fill your belly with the Alowishus Big Breakfast to help kickstart your day. They open at 6:00am daily so if you are an early bird, this is where the get your caffeine fix.


After your laid-back breakfast (or brunch), head to the Bundaberg Botanic Gardens. Set over 27 hectares, with 10,000 trees and shrubs centered around two large lakes which provide the centerpiece and home for many different types of bird life. Boardwalks and pathways will connect you to the Japanese and Chinese gardens, bamboo forest, Fairymead House and the rare and exotic fruits garden.


All aboard! The Australian Sugarcane Railway operates here on Sundays, with several different types of locomotives which have been lovingly restored by volunteer members. You might hop aboard the Valdora, or one of their steam powered marvels - Invicta, Bundaberg Fowler 3, Germany with the carriages all revamped, previous sugar cane bins. This is a must-do while visiting, but note they only take cash (there is an ATM inside the cafe nearby). Tickets are $5 and adult and go back into restoration and renovation projects.

If you are after more adventures on this side of town, you can explore Bargara Berries at Meadowvale, or local animal haven Splitters Farm where creatures great and small await your every turn at this unique

4pm - Before retiring for the evening, take in a David Gulpilil film at the Moncrieff Entertainment Centre. This is a truly beautiful theatre named after famed opera singer Gladys Moncrieff, but the 4pm showing of My name is Gulpilil whereby David Gulpilil shares his own story with us- he has appeared in films such as Walkabout, Rabbit Proof Fence, Crocodile Dundee and Australia. He is an actor, dancer, singer and painter who takes us boldly on the journey that is his most extraordinary, culture-clashing life.

What: My name is Gulpilil
Where: Moncrieff Entertainment Centre
When: Sunday 31 October
Time: 4 - 5:30pm
Tickets: $10 book here.

 Day 4 - Eat local for breakfast, ramble in the rockpools and enjoy some local shopping gems

8am – Water Street Kitchen is a must-do for breakfast, lunch or dinner while visiting. Their menu is abundant with dishes boasting local produce that you can tell with just one taste! For today try their local sweet potato croquettes for breakfast and if you get the chance return for their mouth-watering locally caught szechuan honey prawns with angel hair pasta & dill for lunch. With ever changing seasonal menus, the options are endless!

10:30am - Discover the local rocky shore from the perspective of experienced naturalist guide Natalie Lombarto. Head out for a rockpool ramble and learn more about marine life that calls the Bargara coastline home.

Where: Nielsons Beach & Bargara Coastline
When: Monday 1 November
Time: 10:30 - 11:30am
Cost: $15 per person book here.

12 noon - after all that walking and discovering in the rockpools, salty seafood might be just the ticket for lunch. Head to one of the local fish and chip shops for a takeaway lunch to sit by the Bargara Beachfront with. Bradlee’s is located on the Esplanade or See St Takeaway are both good options. Grab a Bundaberg Brewed drink (Ginger Beer, Lemonade or Lemon, Lime and Bitters) to swish it all down with.

1:30pm Check out some of the local shops, there are wonderful treasure troves to be found at Bargara. Bargara Book Boutique is a second-hand book exchange (that also has some new selections) and is a lovely nook away from the hustle and bustle to get lost in a new adventure. Homeleigh House has a wonderful selection of homewares, clothes and shoes and another wonderful clothing boutique is Sanshells Boutique. If you are an avid hunter and op shop lover, then don’t miss the Vinnie’s on See Street and just tucked around the corner you will find Jassy Watson (artist and owner) at Earth Circle Gallery and Susha next door at her Italian clothing boutique. You can spend hours!

3:00pm - After all that shopping you may have just worked up a thirst and if you haven’t visited the Bundaberg Rum Distillery now is your chance. They run tours every hour from 10am to 3pm (so you can catch the last one of the day) and include an in-depth look and journey into the heart of a working rum distillery. The visit starts with a self-guided tour throughout the Distillery Museum where you immerse yourself in the tales of how Bundaberg Rum came to be, before meeting with your Bundaberg Rum Guide, leading you through the working Distillery itself. From walking over the massive molasses well, to exploring the fermentation tanks soaking up all the sights and smells, before sampling two of your blends of choice at the tasting bar! 

Be sure to stay and play a little longer and check out the remainder of the Milbi Festival program here.

We acknowledge the traditional Country of the Taribeleng Bunda, Gooreng Gooreng, Gurang and Bailai Peoples and recognise this Country always has been and will continue to be of cultural, spiritual and economic significance.

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