On Thursday we drove north to Bundaberg which is possibly the most boring town we have visited on this trip! It's main claim to fame is the Bundaberg Rum it produces but (after some car trouble) we arrived after the distillery had shut for the day. It poured with rain all afternoon and again dining options were extremely limited. After much searching we ended up driving to Red Rooster (Aussie KFC) for another nutritous dinner.
The only reason to stop in Bundaberg was the Mon Repos turtle rookery. We almost gave up on the idea given the rain and the tiny road to the coast but we persisted and were really glad that we did. There were hardly any people there compared to a normal day so we got into the 1st group. We had to wait around at the visitor centre watching videos and reading displays until something happened out on the beach. After about 2 hours an excited member of staff told us a nest was hatching. Thankful to be allowed out we all paraded out to the beach in the pitch black. It was worth the trek along a dark, cold, wavy beach to see these tiny turtles crawling out of the sand.
The mother lays the nest about 6-8 weeks before it hatches. The eggs all hatch together and the babies take 3-5 days to get to the surface. They always emerge at night en masse and run to the sea. The staff held them all together in a cage so we couldn't accidentally crush them and brought a couple round the crowd so we could take photos and touch them. They were surprisingly strong for something so tiny! After about half an hour we all stood back and let them run down the beach to the sea, amazing. Their odds of surviving to adulthood are 1 in 1000.
The centre was an amazing place and we learnt a lot about turtles while we waited and waited around. Sadly we didn't see any turtles laying eggs but it was such a worthwhile experience to see what we did that it even made staying in a dodgy motel in Bundaberg seem like a good idea!