One of the most popular spots for watching marine turtles nesting in Australia is at Mon Repos Conservation Park, near Bundaberg in Queensland. Mon Repos has the most nesting turtles on the east Australian mainland, and a significant breeding area for the Loggerhead Turtle.
At Mon Repos you have the opportunity to see the turtles digging their nests and laying their eggs, and later in the season to watch the turtle hatchlings emerge and make their way to the ocean. You can see nesting turtles from November to January. The best time to see turtle hatchlings is from January to March, but you need to visit after dark to see the turtles. There is no guarantee that you will see any turtles or young hatchlings on any particular night.
Rangers operate guided tours every night during the breeding season between November and late March. The information centre open sat 7pm each night. Access to the beach is restricted between the hours of 6:00 pm and 6:00 am for the protection of the turtles.
You should plan to arrive at the Information Centre around 6.45pm. Don’t forget your booking. The Center has displays and info that you can browse while waiting for the rest of your group (or waiting for turtles to turn up). Rangers check out the beach looking for turtles and will call your group when there is turtle activity to see. If it is a quiet night, you could have to hang around for a couple of hours to be called.
Make sure you wear sensible footwear for walking on the beach. A jumper is also a good idea as it can get chilly in the sea breeze. You can buy food and drink at the information centre, but no alcohol is allowed. Some insect repellent can be handy too so you are not bothered by mosquitoes or midges.
Once you are down on the beach, make sure you follow the ranger’s instructions and remain with the group. Turtles can be disturbed by bright lights and sudden movement when they are emerging from water, moving on the beach and nest digging. Once they start laying their eggs you will get a good view and get some photo opportunities.
Mon Repos Conservation Park is about 15 minutes drive east of Bundaberg, and about a four and a half hour drive north of Brisbane. Follow the signs to Bargara from Bundaberg.
To protect the turtles, access to the beach to see the turtles is by ticket only. Tickets are issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and need to be booked in advance.