The young up-and-comers making Childers trendy
PALM trees by the pool. Exotic wines. Glamping. Canadian-Australian fusion. Classic movie nights.
Sounds like something you'd find in a major city, plastered across the pages of a magazine, right?
It's actually all right on our doorstep in Childers.
But you might have seen it on Instagram too.
A new brigade of young entrepreneurs is revitalising the highway town.
"The older generation's ideas of how things were done 50 years ago is changing,” said Rhys Kummerow, who runs the Childers Eco-Lodge and Off The Wagon Tours with his wife Vanessa.
"As far as small country towns, it's a bit more sustainable than others; the future seems brighter here.”
The couple built their accommodation and small scale farm "for a lifestyle, not just a business”.
They are part of a network of business owners helping each other out.
Jamal Ouahi and Sarah Burns took over the Oasis Motel on Churchill St in 2015 and updated the decor with minimalist furniture and tropical plants, earning hundreds of likes on social media.
They also operate Laneway Espresso, drawing passersby into a Melbourne-
style cafe in their courtyard.
"You breeze in there and it's such a good, chilled out vibe,” Rhys said.
Down the road at Apple Tree Creek, Alana and Mike Vandenbrink's Canadian-Australian restaurant Mollydookers "has taken off far more than we'd ever anticipated”, Alana said.
They frequently serve a full house, drawing foodies from Bundaberg and beyond.
Ohana Winery, run by 26-year-olds Josh Phillips and Zoe Young, cleaned up at the Royal Perth Show in only its second year; the Paragon Theatre is a labour of love for its owners Merissa and Nigel Craft; and new takeaway joint Delgado's is putting its own spin on classic burgers.
Alana Vandenbrink sees Childers as a "little Montville”, with a friendly atmosphere and unique shops setting it apart.
"People are starting to realise they'd rather spend money for things that are better quality and made local,” she said.
"Getting local support is your biggest battle...and the referrals we've had are really humbling.”
Childers Chamber of Commerce member Julie Green has been thrilled to watch the transformation.
"They're just fabulous businesses - such enthusiastic, motivated people who want to make a career of it but also bring colour and vibrancy to the scene in Childers,” she said.
"It means our town is in very good hands.”
Bundaberg North Burnett Tourism chairman Michael Owen agreed.
"It's always good for having new blood and new ideas and new energy coming in,” he said.
"They're targeting a different clientele.”
The look and feel of the region was being communicated better on social media, he added.
"Childers has always had that lovely feel to it.
"It's green, relaxed, friendly, slower; it's sophisticated, but not pretentious.
"And there are around 30,000 people driving through on the highway every day.
"From a promotional point of view, I'm jealous.”