QueenslandBundabergHome to the largest concentration of nesting Loggerhead turtles in the South Pacific and the southernmost gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, Bundaberg is a city of wild and natural treasures.
Whether you drive, fly, train, walk or ride as you arrive in Bundaberg, you can't help but notice rolling rich red soil, rows of sugarcane, macadamias and criss-cross grids of Australia's food bowl that greet you in every which way. Bundaberg city is most fondly associated with rum of the same name and Bundaberg Brewed Drinks which are exported to the world, but a visit to this turtle town will leave much more than just a sweet sensation on the tip of your tongue. If tours are right up your alley, there are several options - the Bundaberg Rum factory, Bundaberg Brewed Drinks, Hinkler Hall of Aviation, Fairymead House and Wednesday art walk at the Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery. If you like to cruise, you can take a leisurely meander up the Burnett River on a guided boat tour. Or, head out to Lady Musgrave Island onboard a luxury vessel departing from the Bundaberg Port. Pack your snorkel and togs though because just 15 minutes from the city, swimming, snorkelling, surfing and beachcombing are all just a quick dip away. Head anywhere between Burnett to Elliott Heads - or even ride a bike along the Coral Coast track to experience the wonders of the Southern Great Barrier Reef. If visiting between November to March you can also have the Mon Repos turtle experience - a night tour offering up close and personal experiences with these ancient mariners while they lay and hatch. Bundaberg is also known to have the pick of the crop when it comes to fresh produce straight from the farm. It's referred to as Australia's food bowl with nearly 90 per cent of the country's sweet potatoes are grown in the region. The pick of the crop can be found there, with farm gate markets, fresh seafood and many local restaurants and cafes serving up the best, seasonal produce. Whether you're a connoisseur, art critic, historian or are into the natural nightlife - Bundaberg is a sweet sugar town with more than meets the eye.
Camp on Woodgate Beach
You don't make the top beaches list without actually having a beaut beach on offer and Woodgate does not disappoint. Over 16 kilometres of largely untouched, white beaches stretch as far as the eye can see, with softly the lapping waves of the Southern Great Barrier Reef providing the soundtrack to your stay. In days gone by it's been a horse paddock, rice and pineapple plantations and a wine production area but today Woodgate Beach is famous for its troops of Kangaroos grazing on residents front lawns and relaxed seaside atmosphere. Birders and twitchers alike will take great pleasure in spotting out some 300 different types of bird species which call the Burrum Coast National Park their home. You can take the Banksia track from Woodgate township, do the Birdhide walk or access the longer Melaleuca track from the Burrum Point camping area. Nature thrill seekers with some horsepower behind them will enjoy varied Four Wheel Drive tracks on offer which lead to secluded picnic spots and camping areas and in the Kinkuna section you can pitch your tent for the night right on the ocean with the stars as your ceiling. Woodgate is a fisherman's paradise with prawning, crabs and some great hidden fishing spots, just ask some of the locals to point you in the right direction. If you are planning a visit around Easter book ahead as a lively and vibrant events calendar which sees thousands flock to the town over the Easter long-weekend turns a town of about 800 into 40,000 for a few days. Keep an eye out during whale migration as dolphins and whales are often spotted offshore and if you see a turtle nesting, let her do her thing before getting too close. White stretches of pristine beach, bushwalks and unparalleled bird spotting will just get you started in this hidden gem which has families and friends returning year after year. So say sayonara to the kanga-troops on your way out and start counting down the days until your return.
Explore the Coalstoun Lakes
Coalstoun Lakes rises 200 metres above a broad cultivated valley, Mt Le Brun, an extinct volcano, contains two large craters which form shallow lakes. Formed more than 600,000 years ago, the mountain is one of the youngest volcanic formations in Australia. Protected by Coalstoun Lakes National Park, the lakes were named after Coalstoun in Scotland by Wade Brun, manager of nearby Ban Ban Station. Perfect for those wanting to observe nature or participate in some birdwatching, visitors can park at the base and make their way up the side of the crater for views and spectacular rural scenery.
Go Diving at Barolin Rocks
Head to the Woongarra Marine Park on the outskirts of Bundaberg to find some of the most brilliant and easy-to-access shore diving in Queensland. There's something different everywhere you look - turtles, rays, sea snakes, nudibranchs, moray eels, a wide variety of reef fish and coral and even wobbegong sharks. Barolin Rocks are also one of the only dive sites in Queensland where dugongs have been seen. This is a great dive for beginners and you're sure to leave Woongarra Marine Park with new and exciting memories every time you dive. This site, ready to be explored all year round, will surprise you – the fact that it’s just metres from the shore doesn’t stop it from being breathtaking.
Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef at Lady Elliot Island
Where else in the Great Barrier Reef can you walk less than 100 metres out of your door and slip on a snorkel, mask and flippers and be immersed in one of the seven wonders of the natural world? Lady Elliot Island is the Southernmost island on the Great Barrier Reef and is home to nesting turtles, manta rays, migrating whales, resident and visiting bird populations among the natural and abundant reef life. Brilliantly coloured fish, starfish, sea cucumbers, crabs, anemones, urchins and turtles grazing on outcrops are all unveiled in an instant as you pop your face down into the exceptionally clear lagoon. This lagoon protects and nurtures the curiosity of beginners (you can stand up on this side and it's only accessible during high tide) while on the western side of the island experienced snorkellers and divers descend to see the coral sea. It will take your breath away, the colour, variety and sheer abundance of marine life you can get up close and personal with each day and with restricted visitor numbers you have an uncrowded Southern Great Barrier Reef experience. This island is a coral cay, so make sure you bring some protective footing as the coral will crunch underfoot as you circumnavigate the island exploring its bird habitat and native flora. Watch the sunset over the ocean where you feel miles away from civilisation in this protected eco gem. Picture yourself as an island castaway and let loose discovering the treasures of the sea and sky waiting to be seen from the simple slip of your body from the land into the deep blue ocean.
Discover the North Burnett Region
The Bundaberg North Burnett Region offers an experience no other Queensland Region can come close to claiming. Vast rural settings, National Parks of rainforests and naturally formed crevices and gorges, an abundance of wildlife and revealing aboriginal paintings and meeting places, all waiting for you. The industry thrives within the rural settings of the North Burnett, the backbone of the region.
Mon Repos Turtle Centre, Mon Repos Conservation Park
No visit to Mon Repos is complete without a stop at the turtle centre. Here you’ll learn heaps about marine turtles, and the conservation and research programs that are protecting them. You'll also find out how a colourful history and ancient connections have shaped the Mon Repos you see today. Have a picnic at the shady tables before you head off to explore the rest of the park. Every year, from November to March, join expert Park Rangers for a rare and wonderful experience with endangered marine turtles (bookings and fees apply). See nesting (November–January) or hatching (January–March) sea turtles. Gather around a majestic female as she lays her eggs, or watch young hatchlings dig free and hustle down the beach. No-one else is allowed on the beach at these times and the popular tours have limited places. Don’t miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Please note the Mon Repos Turtle Encounter tour runs from 7 pm-2 am. Ticket bookings will close at 4 pm each night for that night's tour.
Lady Musgrave Island
An underwater oasis is waiting to be discovered as you pop on your snorkel and mask to reveal one of the Great Barrier Reef's biggest swimming pools at Lady Musgrave Island. The protected lagoon is truly unique on this coral cay island, where you can play castaway on a bare-bones camping adventure or hop aboard a luxury vessel and visit in star-worthy style. This is truly unspoilt, authentic island living at its best and with a maximum of 40 people allowed to camp at any one time, you will have an uncrowded Barrier Reef adventure to boot. If you choose today trip instead, you can view the reef by glass bottom boat, go diving, snorkelling, take island walks and discover the amazing and pristine reef habitat many marine and land animals call home. Get up close with 'flying' manta rays, view turtles smoothly swimming through the ocean, try to pick out what reef fish you know from the abundant life under the sea. If you are lucky enough to be visiting between November to March you might see turtles carefully laying their clutches of eggs (November to January) or babies sprouting forth for their first dip in the big blue yonder (January to March). Take an island walk and take in the abundant flora and fauna unique to this island. You can spend as little as one day or weeks playing castaway and discovering this uninhabited reef island - nature's aquarium, aviary and rookery all in one.
Discover more in Queensland
- Atherton Tablelands
- Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park
- Cape Tribulation, Daintree National Park
- Cape York
- Carnarvon Gorge, Carnarvon National Park
- Fraser Coast
- Gold Coast
- Great Barrier Reef
- Hervey Bay
- Magnetic Island
- Mission Beach
- Outback Queensland
- Port Douglas
- Seventeen Seventy
- Southern Queensland County
- Sunshine Coast
- The Whitsundays
- Thursday Island
- Tropical North Queensland