Seeing turtles nesting and hatchlings, Australia

Location: Bundaberg, Australia

Recommended by Eloise of My Favourite Escapes

Many visitors go to the beach on Australia’s East Coast every summer. However, some are more special than others, and you’ll want to meet them! From November to January, turtles return to the beach where they were born to lay their eggs. Then, the hatchlings make their way to the ocean from January to March. 

Mon Repos Beach near Bundaberg (4.5hrs north of Brisbane) is one of the best places to see them. They have the largest concentration of nesting marine turtles on the eastern Australian mainland and the most significant loggerhead turtle rookery in the South Pacific region. You can join the only ranger-guided turtle encounter on the east coast to see them from close for a memorable experience.

How do I know it’s ethical?

Mon Repos Turtle Centre’s main objective is turtle research and conservation, including general public education. It is located in Mon Repos Conservation Park, managed by the Queensland Government’s Department of Environment and Science. They do not display any captive, live turtles. It’s a fantastic place to learn more about the animals, the challenges they face and what can be done to help their conservation.

When visitors book a tour to see the wild animals from close, they are always accompanied by a ranger from the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service. There are strict rules to follow to avoid disturbing the turtles (for movement, photography and lights, for example), and they do not guarantee you will get to see them. They also use the visit to do research that supports conservation. 

Also, they hold no less than three Ecotourism Australia certifications: Advanced Ecotourism, Respecting Our Culture and Climate Action Business.

Description of the Experience

You can easily visit Mon Repos Turtle Centre to learn more about the turtles and their journey. But if you want to participate in the turtle encounter experience with the ranger, then it requires more planning. First, you’ll have to book a tour online in advance as spots are limited. Secure a spot as soon as you know your trip dates.

Turtles come nesting at night, but they obviously don’t have a timetable, and they may come anytime during the night. So you may wait hours before going to the beach to see them. During this time, you can visit the centre and have food and drinks at the café. 

 Visitors are divided into groups; the first groups arrive at 6.45 pm. Then, they wait at the centre while rangers are on the beach looking for turtles coming out of the ocean to nest or hatchlings emerging from a nest. Once they find one, they take the first group in the queue down to the beach. As you walk in the dark with no light – sometimes after a long wait – the excitement grows. And when you finally see the turtle nesting or hatchling, it’s a magical moment.

Company/ Cost: 

It only costs $28.60 per person to book the night encounter tour with a ranger.

A baby turtle. Photo by My Favourite Escapes.

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This is one post on a series of ethical animal tourism posts by travel content creators. The experiences cover all seven continents and a variety of animals. Ensure that your animal experience is an ethical one.

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