Featured image: Queensland has the longest history of marine turtle conservation and management in Australia (since 1932). Photo: Tourism and Events Queensland
Okay wildlife-lovers, time to talk travel and turtles. Because if you’ve ever watched a hatchling make its mad ocean dash, tiny flippers flying, or snorkelled beside its green sea grandmother, you’ll know these marine beauties are pretty special. And despite Queensland’s outstanding record of protection, numbers are still on the decline (thanks plastics pollution, fishing nets, feral beasts, and rising sand temps). Cue turtle conservation — passionate organisations, businesses, locals and visitors working towards a happy future for hatchlings. Interested? Here’s the tip on how you can pitch in on your next Sunshine State adventure.
First stop, Queensland’s ‘turtle mecca’, Mon Repos near Bundaberg, where you can help protect the most significant population of endangered loggerhead turtles in the South Pacific. From November to March, visitors can join a QPWS (Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service) Ranger for a nightly Turtle Encounter to witness turtles laying eggs or hatching. Want to get closer? Join the crusade by signing up for the Queensland Turtle Conservation Project as volunteers to assist with research and monitoring, or by signing up to support the excellent Mon Repos Turtle Centre.
A little further north, near Bowen, join the Gudjuda Saltwater People on a new Turtle Rescue Tour. Traditional Owner Rangers have joined forces with James Cook University and the World Wildlife Fund to protect green sea turtles, offering a four-hour experience where you can help locate and safely catch turtles to collect biometric data before tagging and releasing them back into the ocean. Don’t forget to factor in a stroll around the beaches of Bowen, they’re glorious!
And to complete the turtle-loving trifecta? The Fitzroy Island Turtle Rehabilitation Centre, located just off the coast of Cairns in Tropical North Queensland. The island offers the final stage of rehab for sick and injured turtles brought into the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre from the Great Barrier Reef and Cape York Peninsula. The aim is for these magnificent creatures to be released back into the ocean where wildlife warriors can follow their journey online via Reef Tracks.
Guests of eco retreat Fitzroy Island Resort (check out #turtletuesday on their socials) can join daily tours to the centre, learn more about the turtles in care and watch on as staff care for the petite patients. If you want to commit to more, there’s also a volunteer option (minimum of one week), which includes daily 45-minute ferry transfers to the island from Cairns with rostered days off to explore the reef and rainforest of this magical region.
Great Barrier Reef commute? We could handle that.