See the Turtles at Mon Repos Conservation Park in Bundaberg

Turtle watching in Bundaberg

FEATURE IMAGE CREDIT: Robert Ashdown

Time of year to visit: between November to March

Family fun and adventure begins at Mon Repos Conservation Park, located in Bundaberg! Home to the largest concentration of nesting marine turtles on the eastern Australian mainland, Mon Repos has a variety of activities families and children of all ages can enjoy. The Mon Repos Conservation Park is strategically placed and deemed the most significant location for Loggerhead turtle nesting in the South Pacific Ocean region. Park rangers are readily available in the park to impart their knowledge on this special species.

Turtle Education at Mon Repos

The turtle adventure starts at the Mon Repos information centre, where stories about the turtles and their journeys are shared. The centre educates visitors on the real truths of a turtle’s adventures in finding their way back to their birth place to nest. From the information centre, you can then walk through the Mon Repos coastal walking track or watch a presentation held in the outdoor amphitheatre and participate in turtle encounters.

Night Beach Access During Turtle Nesting Season

© The State of Queensland (Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing).

© The State of Queensland (Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing).

From mid-October to the end of April each year, public access to the beach is restricted from evening to early morning. There are guided night time turtle encounter tours available, however, and advanced bookings for these are essential. The purpose of this restricted access is to protect nesting turtles and their hatchlings. To find out how to book your tickets, tours costs and for further information, please visit http://www.nprsr.qld.gov.au/parks/mon-repos/about.html#bookings.

Turtle Encounters

© The State of Queensland (Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing).

© The State of Queensland (Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing).

For an annual treat, visitors who participate in the Connect with Nature Turtle Encounters program at Mon Repos are able to witness the annual pilgrimage of literally hundreds of sea turtles. The best time to visit to watch the female turtles lay their eggs after dark is from mid-November to February, where each turtle lays roughly 130 eggs per clutch and up to flour clutches each season. From mid-January till late March, you can also witness the spectacle of the birth of the tiny hatchlings who begin to leave their nests and start their life in the sea.

The turtle encounters at Mon Repos are ranger-guided and operate seven nights a week from November to late March, excluding the public holidays in December. Discover nature close up and watch miracles occur right before you, and you might even have the chance to help rangers relocate clutches of eggs.

Leave The Space As You Found It

Swimming is not recommended at Mon Repos Beach as it is not patrolled by surf lifesavers. During your beach recreation activities, please help reduce hazards for turtles and visitors by flattening large sandcastles and filling in any holes in the sand you may have created before you leave.

Other Attractions at Mon Repos

Other highlights of this fascinating place include the site of Bert Hinkler’s first glider flights. He began his journey as a pilot by building his own glider in 1911 and 1912, which he rebuilt using an ironing board to be utilised as his cockpit. He then went on to experiment with other different aircraft and made record breaking solo flights.

The tidal lagoon and rock pools are great fun for all visitors. Or you could go shore diving in one of the most popular shore-diving areas in Australia, where you can witness the spectacular colours of sea life.

Don’t Forget To Bring:

  • Insect repellent
  • Rain jackets – shelter is limited during storms and umbrellas are not permitted on the beach
  • A small torch
  • A jumper or windcheater as it can be cold, particularly on the beach
  • Drinking water

For further information, visit: www.bundabergregion.info or http://www.nprsr.qld.gov.au/parks/mon-repos/index.html

All images © The State of Queensland (Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing).

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  • Mel

    We expected this to be an observation attraction (watch newborn turtles hatch and make their way to the ocean) However, my husband and I were very taken aback when we arrived to the nest and see that the ranger had placed a heavy wood board on top the already hatched eggs and then his backpack on top of that, preventing the baby turtles of getting out and forcing them to struggle longer. Hm.

    The babies were then released and waddled down the embankment towards the ocean. It was very precious and magical to see how they have such amazing instincts right after birth.

    However, the baby turtles did not make it to the ocean. Instead the ranger picked up every single baby and piled them into a tiny cage. They were probably stacked five babies high in that cage.

    I realize that is pretty much the same environment they are in inside the nest, however, why? Why are they disrupting their natural progression and just confusing and scaring them for the sake of entertainment?

    The ranger then came back up to the nest to check if all the babies were cleared out. We were situated right next the nest ourselves, and observed as the ranger carelessly stomped around the nest in his giant boots, nearly stepping on two baby turtles right in front of us! What the hell?

    I do not exaggerate. This is what was happening.

    The entire group then got into a big circle and the two rangers grabbed one baby turtle in each hand and walked around so everyone got to pet them and flash their cameras in their little faces. The entire time the baby turtles were very violently flapping their flippers about and it was very obvious that they were distraught and unhappy. We did not take any pictures and stood in a bit of horror that nobody else was getting that the babies turtles were pretty much getting traumatised.

    Yes, baby turtles, and all animals, can get traumatised.

    Finally, one by one the babies were taken back out of the cage and set free to waddle into the ocean.

    We are not wild animal activists or anything, and I understand how others would review Mon Repos as a great experience, however, taking the ignorance out of it and realising that animals very much experience emotions like we do, they get confused and afraid, it messes with them. You can see it when dogs or cats get skittish or mean after they have been treated badly, just because you don’t see it after a new born animal has been manhandled and had a load of camera flashes in the face in the middle of the night, doesn’t mean that nothing happened to that poor animals psyche.

    I worry about Mon Repos’ priorities in this area because they are supposed to be protecting these animals and instead it seems like being a tourist attraction is more important to them. Even in a movie they showed us before we went out onto the beach, they talked about how these sea turtles are an endangered species and if they are all gone then WE won’t be able to enjoy them anymore….

    Um, how about just not killing off an entire species so it’s not dead?

    This would be as just as wonderful experience without all the human interference. It’s a beautiful idea and I would really want to recommend it, however they just need to let people look on as the baby turtles do their thing. Picture only prove, you can’t convince. For $10 that would be a really good deal.

    • AnnaCamille

      Without Mon Repos’ work and conservation of the area, the turtles would be gone by now. They do an amazing job. Only 1 in 5000 turtles born will make it to adulthood in the wild (nature isn’t all gentle), and without the safe nesting area that Mon Repos provides. In 2016 for the first time, three untagged turtles have returned to Mon Repos to lay eggs – indicating that the work they’ve done over decades is finally paying off… those three turtles would have been born at Mon Repos and have made it to adulthood. All those that lay eggs there but are already tagged were adults already when Mon Repos was established.

      Not trying to excuse the brusque behaviour of the particular ranger you encountered that night, or the excessive handling of the baby turtles by the crowd, but Mon Repos as an institution does know what they are doing overall.

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