Bundy Rum becoming a tourist hotspot

I suppose it was my influence in the first place that encouraged my teenage daughter to develop a blazing passion for the sport of basketball.

As a former NBL basketball commentator with Channel 10 and then a CEO with the NZ Breakers, my daughter Aby had no choice but to sit courtside watching the many games I attended.

Her passion now means that mum and dad have to ferry her around the regions so she can pursue her dream to one day play for her country.

Lately that has meant playing for the Bundaberg Bulls club and hence we have started to get to know and enjoy the Bundy region.

I suppose in a way we have become regular tourists to the district 0It has opened my eyes to what an interesting area it is.

We have explored and enjoyed the coastal areas of Elliott Heads and Bargara, we have found the brilliant little B&B Inglebrae and we have discovered the reason why Bundaberg Rum's daily tours are so popular.

It was only a few weeks ago that I ventured back to Bundy Rum to go on a tour I had previously done 20 years ago.

It's an understatement to say much has changed in that time and I see now why it has become so popular. Over the past five years, they have invested about $5.million into improving the distillery as a tourist destination.

 This includes the recently opened Barrel House, a state-of-the-art facility that houses around 1000 small barrels used to produce premium rums.

We rolled along to the first tour on a Sunday morning thinking that there would be just a handful of visitors joining us at 10am.

I was wrong and we lined up with 38 others for a tour, which took us from the giant vats of molasses to the tasting room where we got to sample some of the many varied rums that Bundaberg Distillery now specialises in.

Lea Horsington, one of our two guides, has been taking the groups through the facility now for more than a year and she says things have never been busier.

Interestingly visitors from all over the world go on the tour, which is most interesting because Bundy only sell such a small percentage of their rum overseas. New Zealand is their biggest international buyer and it only accounts for 3%. You could say that they have a dedicated loyal following in their home country.

While I have visited many a winery I must admit I knew little about how rum was made and about the size of the Bundaberg Rum industry.

The tour costs $25 and it includes two welcome tastings at the end of an interesting walk through the bondstore.

There is also a shorter self-guided tour, which costs $15 and also includes two tastings.

The Bundaberg Distilling Co was created in 1888 from the collective genius of a group of sugar millers, who came up with the clever idea of making rum from molasses, the by-product of sugar cane farming.

Since then, it has survived two fires (1907 and 1936), floods and the country's worst economic depression.

The distillery has gone from strength to strength, and today they still produce Australia's favourite rum using the same time-honoured production process. For 125 years, they have been crafting quality rum from the same site in Bundaberg.

To win an all-expenses paid trip to Bundaberg Rum's next MDC launch, go to the competition page of this paper's website.

Topics:  bundaberg rum hotspot tourism

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