Where are we now?

Where are we now?
Where are we now? Tahmoor, NSW. Updated 7th December 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

Day 281. Gladstone to Bargara (Bundaberg)

A special encounter with Mother Nature.....

Removing the old windscreen
This morning we were up early and 'pre-packing' the van, as I had a date to get a new windscreen before we hit the road today. It took until 10am to finish getting the windscreen installed, but we still managed to be on the road by 10:30am. I guess we have been lucky in the sense that this is our first windscreen in all our travels, as we have now clocked up almost 40,000km's since we left Brisbane last December.

Driving into Bundaberg
Bundaberg was our next stop. We arrived just after midday, and went straight to the Information Centre to book into the Turtle Encounter out at 'Mon Repos'. 'Mon Repos' is aparently Australia's most accessible, and largest turtle rookery, and  as it's still early in the season; there have only been a few sightings so far of turtles laying eggs. Fingers crossed that we are lucky enough to see this amazing lifecycle of the turtle - as we only have one night here in Bundaberg.

Scarlett on a rocky outcrop at Bargara

Junior Rangers school
We set up a temporary camp in the caravan park at Bargara, which is located 15 minutes out of Bundaberg on the coast. Our plan was to take the van with us tonight, as we could be waiting for up to 6 hours before we get a chance to see a turtle. That way we have the TV and bed for Scarlett if she gets a little 'antsy' and restless.

We arrived at 'Mon Repos' at about 7pm, and were shown through the turtle interpretation centre. It was here that we had to wait while Rangers patrolled the beach searching for any turtles. During this time we watched some DVD's and slideshows on the turtles, while Scarlett and the other kids went and did 'Junior Ranger' classes.

Finally we were informed that a turtle had been spotted coming up the beach - at just after 9:00pm.

The business end of the Flatback Turtle - as she's laying her eggs
We were very fortunate in that we were chosen to join the 1st group going down to the beach (as we were in the 2nd group), and then we were escorted down to the beach. The children (Scarlett included), were the first to be shown the nesting turtle, closely followed by the remaining adults. We arrived as the turtle was already digging its nest. We watched in awe as this amazing animal went through its various stages of digging it's nest, laying it's clutch of 66 eggs, covering the nest, and then returning to the sea. All up we were down on the beach with the turtle for nearly 2 hours. It really was an experience we will treasure forever.

The turtle turned out to be a 'Flatback Turtle'; an endemic species to the Australian continental shelf region, and all known breeding sites occur only in Australia. The Flatback Turtle is classed as a threatened species and is critically endangered. So we were very lucky to see this rare sea turtle indeed. Due to it being critically endangered, we were then lucky enough to watch as researchers dug back up the eggs to count, measure and weigh them; before returning them to the nest. It was amazing to witness this process and get the chance to touch a freshly laid egg.

We returned to the caravan park and setup camp again at around midnight, and by the time we had climbed into bed it was after 1am. It ended up being a very late night, but one we would do again if the chance ever presented itself. Even Scarlett loved the experience, and was on her best behaviour all night. As soon as our little princess climbed in the car, she passed straight out from exhaustion.....

Advice from a Sea Turtle

Swim with the current
Be a good navigator
Stay calm under pressure
Be well traveled
Think long term
Age Gracefully
Spend time at the beach!

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