Five Epic Animal Encounters You Can Only Experience in Bundaberg
See turtles hatch, swim with manta rays and feed baby goats.
in partnership with
Alpacas and turtles and goats... oh my! There's so much cuteness in Bundaberg, you'll need to plan ahead to make the most of all the animal encounters you can have in one trip. And that's where we come in. In partnership with Bundaberg Tourism, we've put together a list of five ways you can get up-close to curious creatures, on land and in the water. After all, Bundaberg is only four hours' drive from Brisbane, so when you're escaping the city for a weekend break or longer you can find time to not only snorkel with manta rays and befriend farmyard animals, but also enjoy the incredible dining institutions spread throughout the region. The hardest part is deciding what to do first.
SWIM WITH TURTLES
OK, it wasn't that hard. First on anyone's list when they come to Bundaberg should be ticking off this bucket-list item. Lady Musgrave Island's 3000 acres of spectacular coral reef is home to a fascinating community of sea turtles — and, incredibly, you can swim alongside them. The Lady Musgrave Experience's glamorous catamaran is one of the easiest ways to cruise around the idyllic Southern Great Barrier Reef. You'll be whisked across pristine waters to a serene lagoon where the biodiverse habitat is the best place to get to know these loveable creatures. You can also soak up the sights from solid ground as each trip includes an island walk, where guides delve into the region's striking natural history. The full-day tour ($220 per adult) includes lunch and afternoon tea, as well as four and a half hours at the lagoon, where you'll meet loggerhead, flatback, green and hawksbill turtles.
SNORKEL WITH TROPICAL FISH
If you don't have the budget to set sail off the coast, you can still experience Bundaberg's natural delights closer to shore. For instance, Barolin Rocks and its heavenly dive site is a short drive from the city. Beneath the depths of this much-loved spot is a stunning coral reef thriving with colourful tropical fish, moray eels and even a dugong or two. Don't forget to pack your snorkel and mask. Meanwhile, cruise further along the Coral Coast to discover a variety of equally impressive beaches, like Kellys Beach, which has beautiful swimming holes and snorkelling spots. When you want to take it up a notch, arrange for a surprise feast to be set up by The Picnic Basket, who'll lay out a spread of local produce at a beach of your choosing.
SEE HATCHING TURTLES
Bundaberg is where some of the world's most important endangered turtle conservation takes place. And the Mon Repos Turtle Centre plays a critical role. It cares for the largest population of nesting marine and loggerhead turtles on Australia's east coast. You can find out everything there is to know about these species by taking part in the Mon Repos Nightly Turtle Encounter ($27.45). Led by an experienced wildlife ranger, the tour includes information about the centre's vital scientific research before taking you into the rookery, where, from November to January, you can watch mother turtles returning to their birth beach to lay their clutches of eggs. If you're visiting between January and March, you'll likely witness hundreds of hatchlings rushing to dash into the ocean for the first time. To ensure social distancing measures, visitor numbers have been reduced for this experience, so make sure you book ahead to avoid disappointment.
DIVE WITH MANTA RAYS
Bundaberg is surrounded by a wealth of inspiring day trips, but none as unmissable as Lady Elliot Island. Although reaching it requires a quick 25-minute flight from Bundaberg Airport ($465 per person), you won't have any regrets once you touch down in Australia's home of the manta ray. Featuring more than 700 individual manta rays and over 1200 species of marine life, the surrounding waters are where you'll want to spend the whole day exploring. For those in the market for a luxurious getaway, why not stay the night at Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort? This way, you can be snorkelling in the lagoon just as the sun rises. Glamping tents start from $382 per tent, whereas beachfront units start from $415 per person in peak season.
FEED A BABY GOAT
Set on the fringes of Bundaberg CBD is Splitters Farm — a paradise for animals and their biggest fans. Surrounded by tropical bushland and bordered by the picturesque Splitters Creek, this sprawling 160-acre property is home to a variety of rescued animals who've survived bushfires, drought and neglect. Here, the self-guided Meet the Animals tour ($18 per person) is the best way to fall in love with horses and geese, goats and cheeky alpacas. Once you've finished exploring the paddocks and hand-feeding the animals, unfurl a picnic blanket and enjoy one of Splitter Farm's delicious pre-ordered hampers, which are practically overflowing with locally produced goodies. You can book ahead for the VIP picnic and tour for just $50 per adult.
For more must-do experiences in Bundaberg, and to book your turtle tours, visit the Bundaberg Region website.
Top image: Lady Musgrave Island by Tracy Olive via Bundaberg Tourism
Published on November 20, 2020 by Hudson Brown