Mon Repos | Sea Turtle Conservancy

Mon Repos | Sea Turtle Conservancy

bundaberg queensland
Turtle surfacing. Photo: Lauren Bath/Tourism Queensland

Mon Repos is famous for turtles and possibly one of the best places in Queensland to see turtles. Mon Repos is four hours north of Brisbane and 15 minutes east of Bundaberg (home to Bundaberg Rum and the Bundie Bear). It’s also 10 minutes from the beautiful beachside town of Bargara.

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Turtle Hatchling In Water. Photo: Bundaberg RTO

Mon Repos history

Mon Repos (which means My Rest) was the name of the house of a French sugar pioneer in 1884.

In 1893, France chose Mon Repos Beach to build a telegraph cable between New Caledonia and Australia, revolutionising communications with the world. Remnants of this cable can still be found on the dunes and beach.

bundaberg queensland
Turtle hatchling at waters edge. Photo: Jewels Lynch

South Sea Islanders later came to the area to provide much support to the sugar industry. Testament to this is the Rock Wall created in their honour.

Pioneer Australian Aviator Bert Hinkler was a Bundaberg boy. His very first flight in 1912 on Mon Repos Beach launched his career, which sadly ended prematurely in 1933 when he crashed trying to fly to Australia from Italy.

Turtles love Mon Repos

australian turtles
Group and ranger with nesting turtle. Photo: Rowan Bestmann

Queensland is proud to be a home to many nesting marine turtles and Mon Repos is their most favoured spot.

Many eastern beaches receive small numbers of turtles but Mon Repos Beach has the highest number of encounters per breeding season.

Thousands of these amazing creatures come to nest, lay their eggs and hatch their babies to complete the cycle over and over again.

Why Mon Repos?

bundaberg queensland
Turtle Eggs. Photo: Lauren Bath
loggerhead turtles
Boy photographing turtle hatchling. Photo: Rowan Bestmann
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Nesting turtle. Photo: Lauren Bath

Pregnant females are quite fussy as to where they make their nest and if there is any light or noise on a beach, this will deter them.

The hatchlings also follow light back to sea and so this needs to be moonlight and not nearby housing.

Mon Repos has the reputation of being a very dark beach with only very distant low lights of civilisation.  

So relatively large numbers of turtles frequent this beach each year compared to other beaches in Queensland.

What else to do around Mon Repos

There is quite a lot to do in daylight hours. The pristine beach is fringed by the Great Sandy Marine Park, with its basalt slabs and reefs.

You can explore coastal trails by foot or bicycle, potter in rock pools, snorkel or dive the reef.

Mon Repos Turtles
Selfie snorkelling with a green turtle. Photo: Tony Isaacson.

The Turtle Walking Trail stretches 9km from Bargara to Burnett Heads.  

The Ponds Boardwalk is full of birdlife, crabs and freshwater turtles.  

The Mon Repos Coastal Track takes in the Turtle Centre, beach, South Sea Island rock wall, rock pools and sand dunes.

The Cable House Creek circuit passes through rainforest scrub, a saltpan, creek and rocky shore along the Far Southern Boardwalk.

What happens at night in Mon Repos

loggerhead turtles
Night viewing of turtles. Photo: Darren Jew

However, night is when Mon Repos comes alive. Turtles arrive at this significant global breeding site between October and April.

Ranger and volunteer guided tours from the Turtle Centre run from November to March (bookings are essential as numbers are restricted).

Mon Repos Turtles
Turtle Centre food van before the tours. Photo: Irene Isaacson.

Pregnant female green and loggerhead turtles lay their eggs from November to January and hatchlings emerge from early December to April.

Turtle etiquette

Turtle tours begin at 7pm. Rangers communicate with each other to report where turtle beach activity is, and tours are organised accordingly.

Mon Repos Turtles
Green turtle making her nest. Photo: Irene Isaacson.

We were lucky as our group of 100 visitors was split into 3 as a number of turtles had come in to shore already.

So we set off in our group, stumbling into the night (no torches except red light allowed).

Our uneven, soft sandy path was partially illuminated by a full blood moon, thank God for only a few clouds.

I found it disconcerting to walk in almost complete darkness as did others, especially children.

Our Ranger organised us so we were never in front of Mum–to-be when she was ‘body pitting’ and digging her egg chamber, so as not to put her off.

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Laying her eggs. Photo: Irene Isaacson.

Once she has laid the first few eggs, it is ok to approach her to view and take photos (no flash).

Mon Repos
Watching a turtle bury her egg clutch. Photo: Irene Isaacson.

High dunes are popular

Sometimes they nest too low on the beach, especially loggerheads, and the eggs are washed away by next high tide.

Mon Repos
Digging up the eggs buried too low on the beach. Photo: Irene Isaacson.

Our Turtle Mum was one of those who misplaced her egg boudoir.

So once she had dropped, buried and flopped back into the water, our ranger had to dig up the clutch and re-bury the hundred or so eggs.

He had a one to two-hour window to complete the task while the shells were still soft.

The whole process took about two to three hours. Thank God it was a warm night and our action was early in the evening.  

You could stay longer and watch another Mum do her thing or talk with the volunteers recording all the data, but by then I felt I knew the process, had got all the photos I wanted and was ready to crash back in our roadside van.

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Turtle heading back into the sea. Photo: Irene Isaacson.

We staggered back to the Turtle Centre and walked around the exhibition and the Gift Shop to buy a cursory keepsake to support Turtle conservation.

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Gifts in the Turtle Shop. Photo: Irene Isaacson.

CUT THE GLOW, LET TURTLES GO

All in all, the whole process was quite streamlined. I felt well informed and was happy with my turtle experience.

The Rangers and volunteers do a great job in monitoring and supervising the breeding activity. And it is reflected in increasing numbers of breeding females returning to Mon Repos year after year.

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Turtle nesting in the scrub of the dunes. Photo: Irene Isaacson.

So if you see a turtle nesting on a beach, maximise their nesting and hatching survival and stay well way from them.

Approach only from behind, leave all lights off, and do not disturb their behaviour.

Mon Repos
Turtle slogan. Photo: Irene Isaacson.

Irene Isaacson stumbled around in the dark at her own expense.

Discover Queensland

For more information about seeing the turtles in Bundaberg visit this website.mon repos sea turtle conservancy

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