Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bundaberg Gets Back to Nature

Getting back to nature and travelling on a budget is easy in Queensland’s Bundaberg region. With a new ‘Turtle Trail’ opening just in time for the annual turtle breeding season, a Great Barrier Reef island resort just offshore gaining advanced ecotourism status, and some fantastic accommodation packages on offer, now is the time to start planning your next holiday.

Mon Repos is a small beach near Bundaberg, and every year from November to March it hosts hundreds of nesting and hatching turtles, and almost as many visitors who come to witness this natural miracle.

And this year, a new coastal walking trail – the aptly named ‘Turtle Trail’ – means visitors can walk to Mon Repos from nearby Burnett Heads or Bargara.

Access to Mon Repos beach is restricted during the turtle season so the best way to see these endangered animals up close is on a nightly guided tour from the Mon Repos Visitors Centre.

The turtle nesting and hatching ritual occurs from November to February, while visitors from January until late March will see the baby hatchlings burst from the sand and make the dash down to the sea.

French for ‘my rest’, Mon Repos has the largest concentration of nesting marine turtles on the eastern Australian mainland and is one of the two largest Loggerhead turtle rookeries in the South Pacific Ocean.

Bookings are essential for the Mon Repos turtle experience and tickets can be purchased at the Bundaberg Region Visitor Information Centre, by calling (07) 4153 8888 or visiting www.bookbundabergregion.com.au.

Situated just offshore from Bundaberg, Lady Elliot Island is also a popular destination for nesting turtles and nature lovers.

The southernmost anchor of the Great Barrier Reef, Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort is accessed by plane from Bundaberg and has just been certified as an ‘Advanced Ecotourism’ destination for its commitment to reducing its carbon footprint.

Since 2005, the resort has reduced its diesel consumption and carbon emissions by at least 75 per cent through a range of initiatives including a new solar hybrid power station, and its goal is to eventually operate 100 per cent on solar power.

There’s a range of opportunities for discovering the surrounding reef at Lady Elliot. Join a ‘Climate Change Trail’ walking tour, jump aboard the daily snorkelling and diving boats, slip on some reef walking shoes and take a guided tour of the shallows, spend the day lazing on the white beaches, or step off the sand for a swim in the same coral playground as manta rays, turtles and tropical fish who call this part of the spectacular Great Barrier Reef home.

 Kelly’s Beach Resort’s turtle package includes includes two nights accommodation, breakfast daily and a family turtle ticket for only $38.10 per person per night, based on a weekend stay for two adults and two children (4-12yrs) outside school holidays. http://kellysbeachresort.com.au

 Grand Mercure Apartments Bargara is offering special rates over the turtle season with two nights in a one-bedroom apartment with guaranteed sea views starting at $370. www.mercure.com

 Koola Beach Apartments Bargara’s "Turtle Experience" package includes 2 nights accommodation in a modern two bedroom 4.5 star self-contained parkview apartment plus Ranger guided night tour of Mon Repos Turtle Rookery. Priced from $90 per person (three or four share) and valid for bookings prior to 31 December 2009 and stays before 31 March 2010 (Excludes 18 December to 10 January). www.koolabeach.com.au

 Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort’s rates start from $132 per night. Pay five, stay seven and pay four, stay five packages are available outside of peak periods. www.lady-elliot.com.au

Fact Box:
• Getting there – Qantaslink fly from Brisbane to Bundaberg
• Holiday and accommodation ideas - www.bundabergregion.info
• Turtles – www.epa.qld.gov.au/projects/park/index.cgi?parkid=83
• Lady Elliot Island – www.ladyelliot.com.au

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