Fragile Mon Repos Turtle Centre and Bundaberg Rum Distillery

Mon Repos turtle hatchlings

Our next destination was Mon Repos Turtle Centre, a famous place for its turtles. You can either watch tiny turtles hatching and entering the ocean or a female turtle laying eggs in the sand. 

We decided to drive through Kalpowar State Forest and Borilla State Forest to make a nice shortcut saving 50 km in total.

We turned left after Monto to Gladstone Monto Road, and after 40 km, we reached a small settlement of Kalpower. We turned right into Kalpowar Road. It was a gravel road for 70 km. The road was picturesque and going through a forest with big pine trees. 

We stopped a few times to smell the trees, rest, and take some pictures.

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Muster on the road

At the end of the road, we got lucky as we spotted muster taking place. Muster is a process of gathering livestock from the land, and it usually is done for selling purposes. Mustering can be done on foot, vehicles, horses, helicopters or even dogs.

The whole idea of mustering is finding and gathering cattle in one spot. A real challenge is when some of them wander away, which is where horse riders help.

Muster on Kalpowar Road
Muster on Kalpowar Road

We saw two horse riders that were navigating cattle in the right direction. We stumbled upon them as they were just crossing the road. So, we stopped and enjoyed it for a few minutes as the view was unique – something we have not seen yet on our trip.

Finally, we joined the highway, and through Gin Gin finally, we landed in Bundaberg. We did not intend to stay there as the town is located far from the ocean and Mon Repos, so we drove up to Bargara. We still wanted to do some sightseeing in Bundaberg, but it was a plan for later.

Muster on Kalpowar Road
Muster on Kalpowar Road

Big4 Breeze Holiday Park

During our trip, we felt so free we completely forget to book a powered site in the Big4 Breeze Holiday Park. 

It was a school holiday, and we saw plenty of campers in the caravan park. Luckily we go to the last spot for three days and set up our base for the Mon Repos trip. The caravan park is located at the shore, next to Bundaberg Surf Live Saving Club. So, it was a convenient location for us to go for a walk any time and enjoy the ocean breeze.

We were close to the water edge so in the afternoon we went fishing. Nell was very much up to the task and she did not want to give me back my fishing rod.

Nell fishing in Bargara
Nell fishing in Bargara – she was really proud she can handle the stick

Mon Repos Turtle Centre – seeing turtle hatchlings

Mon Repos Turtle Centre is located only a couple of kilometres north of Bargara. It is a famous place for its largest and most accessible turtle rookery in mainland Australia. 

During the day, Mon Repos is a popular spot for swimming and sailing. However, you must never forget there are turtle nests around, so additional care must be taken while enjoying the beach. Consequently, no dogs are allowed on the beach.

Little turtle hatchlings on the beach in Mon Repos Turtle Centre
Little turtle hatchlings on the beach in Mon Repos Turtle Centre

Also, beach umbrellas should not be used above the high water mark as they may damage the eggs. 

We hoped to see tiny turtle hatchlings making their first way to the ocean. The event was quite unusual. It started at about 7 pm and could accommodate up to 300 people. 

Inside the Mon Repos Turtle Centre, we were divided into six groups, 50 persons each. They created groups based on booking time, so even we were first in the queue, we were in group C. Then, it was a waiting time.

Two things might have happened: a female turtle emerging from the water and laying eggs or turtle hatchlings breaking the eggs and making their first attempt to get to the water.

We wanted more to see a female turtle laying eggs, but after 2 hours of waiting, they finally called us to see turtle hatchlings on the beach. 

Interestingly, we had to walk to the beach in the dark. Just in case a turtle will emerge from the water. When we got there, we had an opportunity to see how tiny were the turtle hatchlings and even touch them. 

We spend a few minutes with many baby turtles, and finally, we released the hatchlings into the water. Tiny turtle hatchlings instinctively go towards the moon, where usually water is located. It was a bright night, and some people from our group were helping them with torches to show the way to the ocean. 

Sadly, only one turtle out of a thousand will survive to maturity.

Bundaberg Rum Distillery

Bundaberg Rum Distillery started in 1888. One hundred ten years later, Bundaberg Rum has gained recognition as one of Australia’s famous Aussie spirits through its trials and tribulations.

We took a guided tour, and we had an opportunity to see, feel and taste the way of making the Famous Aussie Spirit.

Bundaberg Rum Distillery
Bundaberg Rum Distillery

Starting with the raw material molasses to the aromas of maturing spirit, our temptations ran high for a refreshing sample in the bar with a variety of Bundy mixes and Rum liqueur based drinks. 

Rum is not our favourite alcohol, and even we could try the $80 special edition bottle, it was too strong. In addition, it was a hot mid-day, and we did not want to get drunk.

The Bundaberg Rum Distillery tour was excellent and informative. We had to leave outside everything flammable, like matches and lighters and any item with a battery, including; watches, cameras, and mobile phones. 

There were many fires in the factory since it was open, and they did not want to take a risk.

Bundaberg Botanic Gardens

Straight after the Bundaberg Rum Distillery tour, we went to the Bundaberg Botanic Gardens. The gardens have two big lagoons, picnic tables with shelters, a cafeteria and an old train that still runs.

Old train in Budaberg Botanic Gardens
Old train in Budaberg Botanic Gardens

Bundaberg Botanic Gardens are nicely separated into sections that include Rose Garden, rainforest, Japanese Garden and others. We had to take the train as Nell always loves it. Then we walked around the lagoons seeing many birds on the way. It was a lovely place to spend all day.

In summary, this part of our journey was full of different activities. We visited Mon Repos Turtle Centre, Bundaberg Rum Distillery, Bundaberg Botanic Gardens and we even witness Outback Muster. Awesome!

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