Park ranger holding a baby turtle showing two young girls Park ranger holding a baby turtle showing two young girls

Mon Repos turt-ally awesome Turtle Encounters

Every year, on a quiet beach just 15mins east of Bundaberg, an ancient animal ritual unfolds. Between October and January, hundreds of mother turtles haul their 100kg bodies onto Mon Repos beach to find a safe place to dig a nest and lay their eggs.

Just 6 to 8 weeks later, their tiny hatchlings emerge from sandy nests, dashing down the beach and back to the sea. You can immerse yourself in this thrilling animal adventure by joining our Park Rangers on a Turtle Encounter tour. For one night, you can 'ooh', 'ahh' and be totally mesmerised as you play witness to our marine turtles’ stories.

Here’s how you can create magical memories at Mon Repos this turtle season.

What makes Mon Repos Turtle Encounters special?

Close up of a green turtle's face and scaly front flippers, with sand on her face and thrown over her back, captured in a spotlight, against a dark night backdrop.
Nesting sea turtle, Mon Repos Beach | Lauren Bath © Tourism Events Queensland

Marine turtles nest on beaches around the world. So what makes Mon Repos Turtle Encounters exceptional?

  • More sea turtles nest here than on any other beach on the eastern Australian mainland and more loggerheads nest here than anywhere else in the South Pacific. This makes Mon Repos critical to the survival of endangered loggerhead turtles and increases your chance of witnessing this significant breeding event!
  • To protect the turtles, Mon Repos Beach is closed from sundown to sunup during turtle season, so the only way you can experience Mon Repos’ nesting and hatching turtles is on a Turtle Encounter tour. You can get up close to our turtles, watch real research in action, and hear tales of their journeys, while doing no harm to these veterans of the sea.
  • They say it takes a village to raise a child, and on the Bundaberg coast it takes a community to protect Mon Repos’ sea turtles. Nesting turtles are easily disturbed by artificial light and movement especially when heading up the beach to lay their eggs; and hatching turtles are disorientated by lights when leaving their nests. Every year residents ‘cut the glow’ by switching off lights, closing curtains and creating light barriers. Even the kids get in on the act making posters, writing songs, and holding plastic-free days. Support the community efforts with a visit this turtle season.

What you’ll do on a Turtle Encounter tour

Park ranger greets a smiling family at the sign-in desk in the centre.
Turtle Centre | © Tourism Events Queensland

To make sure cars and people don’t disturb our reptilian superstars, your 'turtle time' will start at twilight—you’ll need to arrive by 7.00pm. Check in at the Turtle Centre and, just like going ashore at a cruise ship port, you’ll be ‘stickered’ with a group number—your passport for the night. Don’t worry, while you’re getting sorted, our Park Rangers will be on the beach, looking for turtles—you won’t miss a thing.

Remember, Mon Repos marine turtles are wild and, just like Madonna at her Australian concerts, they march to the beat of their own drum—having been known to arrive a couple of hours later than hoped for. While you’re waiting for our marine divas to make an appearance, you can hang out at the turt-ally awesome Turtle Centre. Check out the displays and watch our ranger shows, you’ll learn some gnarly turtle facts and learn about the plight of our turtles in the wild. You’ll be yelling, ‘Cowabunga dude’ as you get in on the action by joining a Junior Ranger activity.

When our marine stars arrive, your group will be guided onto the beach. Our Park Rangers are there to make sure you have the best experience while looking after the turtles’ welfare. You’ll need to keep lights off, avoid sudden movements and stay with your group. Photos are a 'must' but only snap away when the Park Rangers say it’s ok.

Tips for a ‘turt-ally’ awesome turtle experience

A young girl takes a selfie with a replica turtle
Turtle Centre | © Hurley Gatley
  • Bring along a picnic dinner—it’s a great way to chill out and is easy to have early or late, depending on the turtles’ schedule.
  • We’ve got free Wi-Fi, so snap a selfie with the giant display turtle in the Turtle Centre, post it on Instragram (#QldParks) or check in on Facebook. What’s the point of having a once-in-a-lifetime experience if you can’t tell everyone about it?
  • Bring your kindle, tablet or break out the Uno in case you need to fill some time while Mother Nature does her thing.
  • After the tour grab a $2 certificate. It makes a great memento of your turtle encounter and the money goes directly towards turtle conservation and research.

How do you make it happen?

Tiny baby turtle makes its way across the sand towards the foamy waves of the ocean with dark night skies in the background.
Turtle Encounter | Rob Ashdown © Queensland Government

Turtle Encounters are only on when the turtles are nesting or the hatchlings are hatching, which is from November to late March. Tours operate seven nights a week, except for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve.

Our Turtle Encounters are flippin’ awesome and visitors come from around the world to see a nesting or hatchling turtle 'up close', so you can’t just rock up on the night. You must make a booking and purchase tickets beforehand.

The fine print

Group of people on the beach in a large circle around a nesting turtle, with starry indigo skies overhead.
Turtle Encounter | Robert Ashdown © Queensland Government

You’ll have to go where the turtles go—on Mon Repos Beach after dark—so it might not be for everyone. Just ask yourself a few questions: can you walk 1.6km at night with natural light; climb over steep sandy or vegetated sand dunes; and stand on the sand for at least one hour? If the answer is yes, then you are good to go.

Just like the Scouts, you’ll want to ‘be prepared’. Wear shoes to walk in the sand, and pack a rain jacket (umbrellas aren’t allowed), a warm jacket, drinking water and insect repellent.

A bit of cash will be handy for light refreshments at the food truck or souvenirs at the gift shop.

Turtles have a mind of their own and occasionally they are a no-show. It is unusual but we can’t guarantee you will see nesting turtles or hatchlings.

Shell-e-brate this amazing natural feat and join us on a Mon Repos Turtle Encounter. Remember to check Park alerts before you go.

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Last updated: 03 June 2019