Forget Nemo, he was found safe and sound. I want to divert your focus to Squirt, and well, turtles in general and just how amazing these ancient mariners are.
For many years, my family would spend each Christmas holidays at a little known beach side camp ground at Mon Repos. When we weren’t boogie boarding in the surf, exploring the tidal lagoon and rock pools or searching for sea cows in the mangroves (yes, we thought they were actual cows that lived in the sea) we were sitting, waiting quietly in the dunes for the magic that is Mon Repos to begin.
Many a night was spent searching this shore line for the tell tale flipper prints in the damp sand, alerting us to a turtle laying her eggs. Or stumbling across patches of trembling sand when suddenly POP! From beneath the dune would appear tiny turtle after tiny turtle! There is nothing like standing on the beach, guiding the hatchlings via torch light to the water below the dunes, feeling their little flippers scamper over your feet – it’s an experience very few ever see but for those who do, they will never forget.
Mon Repos is situated on the East Coast of Queensland. Mon Repos is a 4.5 drive north of Brisbane and a 15 minute drive east of the town of Bundaberg. From mid October to the end of April, access to the beach is restricted due to turtle activity. Loggerhead, flatback and green turtles come ashore from November to February to lay their eggs. Hatchlings can be seen leaving their nests and marching across the dunes eight weeks later, from January to late March.
Times have changed since my childhood days of camping on the dunes, though there is an abundance of accommodation close by at Bargara. Whilst camping is no longer available to help protect these majestic creatures of the sea, the Turtle Visitor Centre has been set up and guided tours through Mon Repos Turtle Encounters are now available. Park rangers are available to talk to and share their knowledge inside whilst outside in the amphitheatre, videos are presented to awaiting turtle enthusiasts.
Bookings for the Mon Repos Turtle Encounter can be made through Bundaberg North Burnett Tourism by telephoning (+61) 07 4153 88 88 or online at www.bookbundabergregion.com.au