Mon Repos Regional Park is on the coast between Bargara and Burnett Heads. Much of the coastline is rocky basalt slabs. Mon Repos is a kilometre of sandy beach between the rocks. The sandy beach is the largest concentration of nesting marine turtles on the eastern Australian mainland.
The Mon Repos Turtle Centre is open daily during turtle season, and Monday to Friday out of season. You can learn about the turtles and their journey, and the history of the area. Bert Hinkler, Australia’s pioneering aviator, used Mon Repos beach for his first successful flight.
There are a number of walking trails to explore. The Turtle Trail is a walking and cycling path from Burnett Heads to Bargara passing through Mon Repos. The Mon Repos coastal track runs along the Turtle Trail in Mon Repos, with coastal tracks to explore closer to the beach.
A rock wall is passed on Rookery Road when entering Mon Repos Turtle Centre. The 1.6km rock wall was built by South Sea Islanders clearing the area for growing sugar cane. There is an audio sign where you can listen about how the islanders lived in the area.
I went on the Cable House Creek circuit walk, which takes you through the Woongarra rainforest scrub that once covered the area before clearing for farming. It has the only natural vegetation, with the rest of Mon Repos replanted. It is best to do this walk wearing shoes you can walk in water with. I took my shoes off to cross the outflow from the tidal lagoon, to later find you want along the creek floor. The tide was out, but the sand was soft and squishy, so your shoes will get soaked. I noticed a fair bit of broken glass bottles, so I didn’t want to try walking through barefoot. There are the remains of WWII bunkers, but I didn’t get to see them. You can drive to a separate parking area for this walk, or walk from the main car parking area, passed the rock wall on the way.
From November to late March, you can go to the Mon Repos Turtle Encounters. Arriving at the Mon Repos Turtle Centre at 6.45pm, you are assigned a group, then your wait begins while staff search the beach for turtles. While you wait you can have a look around the turtle centre, watch the ranger shows and videos at the amphitheatre, visit the souvenir shop, and there is a food van with cold and hot food and drinks. The souvenir shop and food van were not open during the day. Be prepared for a long night, as the turtles don’t follow the timetable.
When the turtles arrive, rangers call your group and guide you to the beach. Depending on the time of the year, you witness the sea turtles make their journey onto shore to lay their eggs, or in the later months see the newly hatched turtles begin their journey to the sea. By the end of the night, you could be there for 6 hours, and there may be no turtles arrive at all, although this is supposedly unusual.
Be prepared in case of wet weather, but note umbrellas are not allowed. Insect repellent and drinking water would be a good idea too.
To get there:
From Bundaberg, head towards Bargara along Bargara Road. Turn left into Potters Road at the brown sign Mon Repos Beach Turtle Rookery. Continue to the end and turn right into Grange Road and continue straight ahead into Mon Repos Road. A brown sign is 100m before Mon Repos Turtle Centre on the left.
From Bargara, head towards Bundaberg along Bargara Road. Turn right into Potters Road at the brown sign Mon Repos Beach Turtle Rookery, then it is the same as above.
From Burnett Heads, heading out along Burnett Heads Rd, turn left into Mittelheusers Rd. If you are coming along Port Rd, turn left into Burnett Heads Rd when it veers to the right, then right into Mittelheusers Rd. At the end, turn left into Mon Repos Road. A brown sign is 100m before Mon Repos Turtle Centre on the left.
Cost: Free, except for Mon Repos Turtle Encounters, Adult $12.40, Child (5-14 years) $6.45, Concession $6.45, Family (2 adults, 2 childre) $29.75, Education Group (Primary and Secondary) $2.75
Conservation Park: 15 October to 30 April, Mon-Sun 6am-6pm, 1 May to 14 October, anytime
Turtle Centre: November to late March, 8am-5pm, closed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Years Eve, April to early November, 8am-3.30pm
Turtle Encounters: 6.45pm for 7pm start, end time is variable up to 1am
Food: No, except food van available during Turtle Encounters hours
Wheelchair accessibility: The Mon Repos Turtle Centre and toilets, Turtle trail, Ponds boardwalk (from Mon Repos Road) and Mon Repos Coastal track north of the centre’s northern boardwalk are wheelchair accessible