October 31, 2003
Dominating the main entrance to the gardens is the spectacular colonial edifice of the 1890 Fairymead House, relocated here during the bicentennial to house the informative, all-be-it a little dry, Sugar Museum (open daily 10am to 4pm, admission $3) that tells you everything you could possibly want to know, and perhaps a little bit more, about the town major industry.
The gardens main attraction however is a curiously out-of-place 1920's estate house relocated here brick-by-brick from England. This was the home of local hero Bert Hinkler during his stay in Southampton and now houses a Memorial Museum (open daily 10am to 4pm, admission $5) to his short life and his pioneering solo flight from England to Australia. Although personally, I found the dilapidated English house stuffed with Bert's personal artifacts and photographs about as inspiring as a visit to my grandparents' house.
Far more interesting is the nearby historical museum (open daily 10am to 4pm, admission $3), a renovated barn housing a curious collection of junk from the towns past that no one had the heart to throw away, including broken farm machinery, war memorabilia and fading photographs of forgotten people. This is a frustrating and occasionally rewarding chance to rustle through the attic of an entire town.
In front of the historical museum is a small railway station (open Sundays and holidays 10am to 4pm) where you can buy tickets to ride the 610mm gauge stream-powered locomotive from the old cane railway that transports visitors around the park. Other facilities include Ann’s Kiosk & Restaurant providing reasonably priced pies and cakes, picnic and barbeque facilities, a rose garden and even a pleasant little outdoor wedding chapel should the mood take you during your visit.
All in all, it’s a pleasant little place to take a break from the hectic pace of small town life.
From journal Bundaberg: A Rum Place