The next quick stop destination on our journey to Airlie beach was a town called Bundaberg. Famous for its rum and ginger beer.
Whilst the boys headed to the rum factory, I took a little break and read my book instead. Luckily they told me all about it. The process of making rum comprises of three ingredients; yeast, water and molasses (the by product left from the crushed sugarcane juice that hasn’t formed to sugar crystals on the outside of the centrifuge.)
The Bundaberg factory produces a number of different rums, some of which have won awards. The boys favourite was the Bundaberg Royal Liqueur coffee and chocolate.
We then headed to our camp site we had booked, Lighthouse Holiday Park, before making our way to Mon Repos Turtle Centre…for an evening I’ll never forget.
During the months of November – January, loggerhead turtles make their way onto the shores to lay their eggs. Then during the months of January – April the baby turtles hatch and make their way to the sea.
I was lucky enough to witness the hatching of 127 turtles.
We arrived at 6:45pm and were put into a group of about 30 people. A food truck was stationed near the centre so we grabbed a hot dog from the van and waited for our group to be called to the sand.
Volunteers scour the beach for possible hatchlings and once they are spotted a group is called down to the sand. You can expect to wait until 1am before being called. Whilst you wait there is an information centre that allows you to learn about the turtles and a number of short presentations. Luckily for us we were called down at about 9pm.
I would recommend making a booking and also bringing bug spray – so many mosquitos.
It is very dark on the beach so we had to carefully make our way to the place the turtles were spotted using the light from the tour guides torch.
All other sources of light were not allowed because it dis-orientates the turtles. They use the light from the horizon to guide themselves towards the sea so any other constant light is a distraction.
We were able to feel their little fins and take a couple of photos when the guide instructed.
Watching them make their way to the sea was magical. I couldn’t believe I was able to experience such a special moment.
After all of them had been taken away by the waves we returned to the nest to count how many were born. We watched 126 make their way to the sea. We managed to help another turtle, who had been trapped in the nest so that made 127. However only 1 in 1000 turtles make it to adulthood (aged 30) which is incredibly sad. 132 eggs had been laid but five did not hatch.
Bundaberg will always hold a special place in my heart for allowing me to witness the 127 turtles making their way into the world. Truly magical.
Campsite: Lighthouse Holiday Park, $40 per camper van on an unpowered site
Recommendations: Mon Repos Turtle Centre | Bundaberg Rum Distillery
Eating: Rick’s Vantastic food truck