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Meet the rare turtles of Mon Repos and snorkel the Great Barrier Reef from the historic sugar city of Bundaberg.
A rare colony of nesting turtles is just one of the captivating natural attractions near Bundaberg, a four hour drive north of Brisbane. This historic sugar cane city is also the southernmost gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, fringed by coral cays as well as 140km of pristine white beaches. Go diving and snorkelling on Lady Musgrave Island and Lady Elliot Islands and swim and fish from coastal national parks. Bundaberg also offers lots more traditional city drawcards, including museums, heritage buildings and lush botanic gardens.
It's a short drive from Bundaberg to Mon Repos Conservation Park, home to the largest concentration of nesting sea turtles on the east Australian mainland. Between November and March, you can join a nightly tour to see green, flatback and the endangered loggerhead turtles nest and hatch on the small beach. Mid-November to February is the best time to see female turtles laying eggs, while hatchlings usually begin to leave their nests from mid-January. In January you may glimpse both nesting adults and their newly-hatched babies, crawling to shore for their first swim.
Green Turtle, Lady Elliot Island, Bundaberg, QLD
Over summer, turtles also nest and hatch in smaller numbers on nearby Lady Elliot and Lady Musgrave Islands, the southernmost coral isles of the Great Barrier Reef. These are also spectacular spots for snorkelling and diving, with manta rays and fish among the rainbow of resident marine life. Base yourself in the beachfront eco-resort on Lady Elliot Island, home to 19 dive sites. Take a guided reef walk or hike around the island, spotting the abundant birdlife.
Further north is Lady Musgrave Island, a national park and the only coral island on the Great Barrier Reef with a navigable lagoon. Swim and snorkel the lagoon’s clear, turquoise waters alongside coral trout and enormous technicolour fish. Scuba dive with manta rays and moray eels, glide over the reef in a glass-bottomed boat ride or see starfish, sea urchins, clams and corals exposed at low tide. Explore the island on a day trip or go castaway – you’ll just need to book ahead for one of the 40 camping spots.
Bundaberg also sits at the hub of the Coral Coast, a dreamy stretch of white beaches, national parks and relaxed coastal towns. Hit the surf at Agnes Water and visit its sister township of 1770, a popular departure point for reef cruises and fishing charters. Swim or fish at Elliot Heads, go diving in Coral Cove and Innes Park or spot kangaroos in Woodgate Beach.
Back in Bundaberg, you can trace the city’s heritage in the museums and gracious colonial buildings. Cruise the Burnett River, ride a sugar train through the Botanic Gardens and tour the iconic Bundaberg Rum factory.
Visit Bundaberg, where the turtles of Mon Repos are just some of the city’s many attractions.
More Holiday Ideas
See what else there is near here to inspire your holiday planning
Combine art and outdoor adventure in Brisbane, where South Bank's cultural institutions and restaurants meet riverside gardens and a lagoon. Take a paddlesteamer or ferry down the Brisbane River, abseil Kangaroo Point cliffs and bike ride through the City Botanic Gardens. Day trip to Moreton Island or add Noosa, the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast hinterland to your itinerary.
From Brisbane, visit Moreton Island, Surfers Paradise, and Noosa on the Sunshine Coast. Head inland for Outback Queensland or north for World Heritage-listed Fraser Island, Bundaberg's natural attractions, and Mackay, a gateway to the idyllic Whitsundays. In Queensland's tropical north, Townsville, Cairns, Port Douglas and Mission Beach line the coast along the Great Barrier Reef, up to the Daintree Rainforest.
Capture some of Queensland's biggest coastal attractions- from the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef to the pristine islands and rainforest national parks. Four wheel drive Fraser Island, the world's largest sand island and see manta rays and turtles at Mon Repos, near Bundaberg. Stay in Rockhampton and visit Great Keppel Island and the Capricorn Caves. Snorkel or dive reefs and shipwrecks near Mackay and go sailing in the postcard-perfect Whitsundays. Walk the white sand of Magnetic Island, near Townsville and further north visit Hinchinbrook, Australia's largest island national park. The vivid colours, smells and sounds of this splendid coastline will stay with you long after your journey ends in Cairns, at the gateway to Queensland's tropical north.
As well as an international party destination, the Gold Coast boasts some of Australia's best, most consistent waves and hosts many international surfing competitions. The 35 beaches are patrolled year round by professional lifeguards and have surf to suit all levels of experience. If you're a surfing novice, the Gold Coast is an ideal place to learn. Sign up with one of the many surf schools, where accredited teachers will help you to stand up on your board and catch your first wave fast.