OODIES CAFE: Nice pictures of Bundaberg. Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail
OODIES CAFE: Nice pictures of Bundaberg. Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail Mike Knott

BIG READ: How the floods washed away a city's doubt

WHAT is it about Bundaberg that has changed markedly in the last few years?

Perhaps it's the brightly coloured pop-up shops, or the markets dotted with lacy bunting and ornate cupcakes.

Or maybe those attractive outward signs are part of something deeper.

Online reviews of the region from several years ago are bleak.

Expletives and adjectives painted a picture of a place that was boring, violent and depressing.

"Don't move to Bundaberg unless you want to be unemployed, miserable, constantly bored and stop wearing shoes in public," wrote one person on Urban Dictionary.

"Kind of like a combination of the worst parts of a country town and a miniaturised big city," wrote another keyboard critic.

But flick forward and our opinions - and those of our visitors - seem to have gone through some kind of metamorphosis.

It's no surprise says Queensland University of Technology Associate Professor Jane Shakespeare-Finch.

Traumatic experiences can be a catalyst for positive changes, she says.

Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey gives an update on what's happening in the region:

Online opinions of the city seem to have undergone their switch following the 2010/11 and 2013 flood events.

"It's quite common after a disaster - the same thing happened in New York after 9/11," Dr Shakespeare-Finch said.

OUR SAY: It's good to be able to report positive news

The associate professor has spent 18 years researching the social affects of disasters on people and communities, and believes the outcomes are generally positive and long-lasting.

"Through that loss and working together as a community people reprioritise their lives," she said.

"There's more of a respect for your neighbour or for emergency services."

Trip Advisor rates Bundaberg with an average of four stars, equalling "very good" and a second highest rating of five stars, being "excellent".

Only 11 of the 112 reviewers rated the city as "terrible" or "poor".

North Bundy's rebirth

"Cute town, with very friendly locals, good food and drink, a beautiful river run next to it, easy by transport (rail, fly or highway), surprisingly many tourist attractions. Do spend some time here," said one reviewer.

Some people who have been living in the rum city took to website Homely to share their thoughts on the place they call home.

"I have lived here for six years now," said HappyinBundy.

"I have a young family and my husband is happy in his job.

"It is a great place for families to be and there is always lots to do around here.

"The shops are convenient and I can always find what I need in the one place at any time of the week.

"I wouldn't want to live anywhere else."

According to experts in the field, too much self-hatred in a community can be a sign that there is too much being taken for granted. But when disasters happen, it forces people to realise what is good about what they have.

Dr Shakespeare-Fince said "notions of good and positive things from disasters" were deeply rooted in both religion and mythology and could be found both in the Bible and in Buddhist teachings.

It's all about getting back to the glass being half full.

BOURBONG STREET: Nice pictures of Bundaberg. Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail
BOURBONG STREET: Nice pictures of Bundaberg. Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail Mike Knott

"Instead of focusing on the negatives, the fact they've got a town is a positive," Dr Shakespeare-Finch said.

"When you live in a privileged society it's easy to put yourself or community or other people down as you don't realise how privileged we are."

But when neighbours help out in a time of need, or people are given a reason to band together, they change.

"It helps you to think of the positive aspect of your lives," Dr Shakespeare-Finch said.

"It's easy to whinge about things, but when you've really got something to whinge about those things are insignificant."

Do you feel Bundy has changed since the floods?

This poll ended on 28 May 2016.

Current Results

Yes - for the better


Yes - for the worse


Not really


This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

Mayor says online reviews can lead to economic prosperity 

Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey said he praised the positive outlook for the region and says positive online reviews can do wonders for the local economy.

"The potential for our region is being recognised by investors and developers alike with millions of dollars in projects proposed and many already under way," he said..

"There are only positives in the pipeline for this region."

He said that giving good online reviews was important for showing people what the region was made of.

"We need to shout positive messages about our region from the rooftops," Cr Dempsey said.

"In this vein, I would encourage local businesses, whether they be accommodation providers, or operators of local attractions, to list with Trip Advisor so the world can see what this region has to offer.

"I would also encourage locals and visitors to this beautiful region to get on Trip Advisor and rate our various attributes. Let's tell the world how wonderful this region is."

Management can prevent a second disaster

Successful management is the key to making sure the economic and social wellbeing of the community doesn't become yet another disaster, says Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Professor Gerry FitzGerald.

The director for QUT's Centre for Emergency and Disaster Management said the response to the aftermath of a disaster was a big responsibility for communities.

"Around the world, successful management of the recovery is often the difference between there being a secondary disaster or not," he said.

"If it's well managed it can rejuvenate and enhance resilience."

He said given the positive vibe in the region, it sounded like Bundaberg had done a good job.

Our river's alive with activity 


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