When you mention the word “Bundaberg”, there are two drinks that instantly spring to mind: Bundaberg Rum and Bundaberg Ginger Beer. Though not a huge fan of rum, I do love ginger beer, and I drink a bottle of the famously named soft drink each week.
The decision to spend New Year’s Eve in Bundaberg was an unexpected one. My nephew has family in Bundaberg and has spent the last week here. This meant, a 6-hour drive each way from Lismore to pick him up.
“You definitely feel like you’re in Queensland,” one of the group said over dinner last night. The heat, and the Queensland savannah country, all make you feel quite different from life back Northern NSW. Even the cars look different up here, with far more 4WDs on the road. Though I slept a fair bit of the way, it was a welcome change to do something a little different.
And, of course, when you visit Bundaberg, it’s almost compulsory to want to see see the factories where these world-famous drinks come from.
But when I checked in with a colleague who lives in Bundaberg, seeking his travel tips, he recommended the much smaller, Kalki Moon Distillery, named after the Bundaberg suburb, Kalkie.
As we took part in an hour-long organised tour of the distillery, the owner and founder told us he had worked for over a decade as a Master Distiller at the much larger “bear”, the Bundaberg Rum Distillery. Since going out on his own, he has created a boutique label, making vodka, gin, and rum. The distillery, he told us, had grown dramatically since opening in 2017.
His talk was well-received by the 30 or so people on the tour. He filled in lots of detail, which I barely knew, about where he sources the products, about distillation, and about how he creates the different products. He described this “family and friends” project with passion.
At just $15 (which included two healthy-sized spirit tastings), we thought the tour was an excellent (and good value) way to spend a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon. Of the many breakthrough moments, it was the idea of blending locally-made gin with locally-made ginger beer for a “Gin Gin Mule” that resonated. “It’s not named after the nearby town of Gin Gin”, he assured us. Note for future – it mixes well.
We’re heading back to Lismore this morning, so we won’t get to see the soft drink factory, but overall it’s been a pretty interesting 24 hours or so in Bundy.
Oh, and Happy New Year.