The following poem landed in my lap back in the nineties when I was the secretary of the Gladstone Area Writer’s Group.
It wasn’t until 2009, while I was trying to track down the mysterious poet, I came across Fred Cullum, a 96 year old Bundaberg local, who happened to see the factory go up in flames in 1936.
“The fire was started by a lightning bolt which struck the distillery and lit up the night sky like a bomb blast,” Fred said.
“Thousands of gallons of rum burst from the shattered vats and flowed through the streets. Locals, who had heard the explosion, scooped up the rum using numerous pots, pans and buckets.”
Sadly, most of the rum flowed down drains into the Burnett River and killed a large number of fish. On the bright side, the residents of Bundaberg literally gorged themselves on rum soaked fish for days.
It was nearly seven years before the factory was rebuilt and the next batch of rum was ready for consumption.
A dry time for many…
Oft times I’ve sat and pondered why this town I call my own,
Has spawned more famous people than any other known,
The very best of singers, airmen, cricketers galore,
And half a dozen ‘Kangaroos’, and many, many more.
Just a few recalled in passing, ‘tis for sure there’s more to come,
And I’ve wondered if the reason is,
The Good Old Bundy Rum!
It’s the recipe exclusive in this region made for fame,
It’s the favourite of the nation; this rum has world acclaim,
The nectar of the God’s for sure, the panacea of ills,
This cup of inspiration that Bundaberg distils,
Forefathers long before us, could do little but succumb,
To the product of the Sugar Coast,
The Good Old Bundy Rum!
This very strange enigma is one we all admire,
And I’ve looked for some solution in the great distillery fire,
When the flowing Burnett River became a sea of flame,
And the local fish behaviour put the local drunks to shame,
For fish like men imbibing, are somewhat overcome,
By the state of great euphoria,
From the Good Old Bundy Rum!
The perch attacked the groper, and the mullet fought the shark,
And the prawns danced with the mudcrabs, as they jazzed across the park,
The salmon full on metho sheltered near the rowing hall,
And the bream moved in procession behind “Old Kirby’s Wall”,
What a strange state of confusion as the mudcrabs packed a scrum,
Reminiscent of the local team,
Half full of Bundy Rum!
Now if you doubt my short description, ask Barramundi Joe,
Who lived right on the river some sixty years ago,
And I’ve tried to tell the story as we saw it Joe and I,
When the glare across the river was like sunrise in the sky,
And we tasted well the contents of a handy floating drum,
That happened to come floating by,
Half filled with Bundy Rum!