The first Europeans in the area were timber-getters (lumberjacks) and farmers who arrived in 1867. Timber supplies soon ran short and a new industry (corn production) was established. This provided excellent returns until pests and disease devastated the industry in the late 1870s.
(The area was surveyed, laid out, and named Bundaberg in 1870, it was gazetted a town in 1902 and a city in 1913.)
Experimental sugar cane growing followed and a new and exciting sugar industry grew. This facilitated the development of a number of mills. Most were small juice mills, extracting only juice from the cane, but the remainder were complete mills, extracting juice and manufacturing raw sugar.
The local sugar mills had a problem – What to do with the waste molasses after the sugar was extracted from the cane. Perhaps a profit could be made?
The Bundaberg Distilling Company began operations in 1888 with the first batch of Bundaberg Rum being produced in 1889.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Bundaberg Rum is Dean’s favourite drink of all time. It’s the drink he preferred when we met (more than half a lifetime ago), and the drink he still prefers today (more than half a lifetime later).
Yes, there have been other drinks, other spirits, ports or beers that have made it to his what I’m drinking now list, but he always, ALWAYS, comes back to Bundaberg Rum.
When we arrived in Bundaberg, we were there for one reason, and one reason only: To tour the Bundaberg Rum Distillery. Dean was like a kid in a candy store and could barely wait for the tour to conclude so he could taste a few select blends. (The tour includes two free tastings.)
(Unfortunately) You are not permitted to take photos on tour and it has nothing to do with keeping secrets. It’s a safety precaution. Due to the high concentration of vapours, electronic equipment, and battery operated items of any kind, including watches, might spark a catastrophe. All personal possessions are stored safely until the tour is completed.
The Best Rum in the World
In March this year, spirits were high in Bundaberg (ha ha) following the announcement by the Bundaberg Distilling Company that its Bundaberg Rum Master Distiller’s Collection Blenders Edition 2015 had taken top honours at the 2016 World Drinks Awards in London. AFTER it had already been named the world’s best dark rum, it then went on to be named the Best Rum in the World.
Bundaberg Rum Master Distillers’ Collection, Small Batch took out the award for Best Gold Rum. After tasting both, Dean walked away with a bottle of each, as well as a couple of others to enjoy.
I also scored a few bottles of Bundaberg Royal Liqueur, only available at the distillery – their Coffee and Chocolate Liqueur, a decadent and delicious treat that’s been a favourite of distillery-goers for decades, and their new Banana and Toffee Liqueur, a sumptuous delight that combines three of my (most adored) favourites in one wickedly delicious treat.
It certainly won my heart as soon as I tasted it.
Thoughts on Location No 103
Bundaberg, Wide Bay Burnett, Queensland
We stayed at the East Bundaberg Cabin and Tourist Park, a stones throw from the distillery. The park was nice enough, quiet and relatively cheap, but situated right in the middle of the industrial area and neither of us wanted to stay longer.
Unfortunately, our amazing journey is coming to an end, our money pool is drying up, and the real world beacons. It’s time to get ‘home’, buy a new house, and start looking for jobs.
But we’ll have another couple of stops before that happens.
For the record, an explanation of the featured image: A ‘bondstore’ is a building or other secured area in which dutiable goods may be stored, manipulated, or undergo manufacturing operations without payment of tax (duty). The tax is paid when the process is completed and the goods are ready for sale (I guess). There was a very large, extremely high voltage, electric fence around the distillery and all of its associated bondstores.