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Childers, Queensland, Australia
Red soil along the roadside marks the entrance to the small Queensland town of Childers. It’s a deep volcanic red – the kind of colour that is trying to make a statement.
Contrasted with the green fields of sugar cane and fruit trees planted in the soil, it’s even more vivid. You can’t help but notice the soil on the way to Childers.
And that’s the thing about the town itself – you can’t help but notice it. For a place with a population of less than 1500 people, it has more than its fair share of attention.
Sadly, many people still remember it as the scene of a horrific attack in 2000 when an arsonist set fire to a backpackers hostel and killed 15 young travellers.
Rather than try to forget the story, Childers has tried to grow stronger from it.
The hostel building was rebuilt and opened two years later as a memorial, an art gallery and a visitor information centre. Meanwhile the community dedicated itself to presenting a welcoming and friendly environment to tourists.
As well as visiting the memorial and seeing some of the heritage-listed buildings in the old town, there are several tourist attractions that are worth a visit.
The highway through the town is a busy one so these sights give weary drivers an excuse to stop. They could also be enough reason to make Childers the destination for a drive from nearby Bundaberg or Hervey Bay.
Flying High Bird Sanctuary
This is the largest free flight aviary in Australia and has more than 3000 birds inside its netted enclosure. Most of the birds are Australian but there are also some exotic species from other continents.
You can walk through the aviary and many of the birds will fly past you. Some of them are in cages for their own safety, though.
The sanctuary has expanded recently and there’s also an outside area with kangaroos, emus, a cassowary and even a Tasmanian devil. This is a great place for children with plenty to see and explore.
Make sure you have a chat to the owners who will tell you all about their favourite birds.
Snakes Downunder Reptile Park
This reptile park is smaller than the average zoo but that allows staff to give you the personal touch. They’ll be happy to walk around with you, chat about the animals and even give demonstrations.
Snakes Downunder started as a snake show but then added crocodiles, lizards and other native Australian reptiles. It also has an area with kangaroos and emus and recently some koalas joined the park.
It would be a good idea to check the times of the shows on the day you’re planning to visit and try to be there for them. Seeing the staff handle the animals and explain more about them is one of the best parts of any visit.
Hill of Promise Estate Winery
The winery is right on the highway and is an easy place to stop for a drink and to pick up some souvenirs from a trip to Childers. It’s a small boutique operation run by a local couple.
They used to grow their own grapes on the land but now they just focus on production.
The wine-tasting they offer on site also includes information about what foods go best with each variety. In fact, Hill of Promise Estate is more than happy for you to bring along your own picnic and eat it with a bottle of wine on their front lawn.
Mammino Gourmet Ice Cream
This ice cream shop is a local institution and is just as popular with locals as it is with visitors.
All the ice cream is homemade at the small shop in Childers and you can choose from almost ten flavours. The most popular is the classic macadamia which is one of the main products grown in this area.
Although there’s a small shopfront in the main street, it would be better to visit the shop and factory around the corner from there. This is where it all happens and you’ll meet the owners who’ll be able to recommend a flavour and chat to you about their history.
Time Travel Turtle was a guest of Queensland but the opinions, over-written descriptions and bad jokes are his own.