I have returned home from a week in the Bundaberg Region on the central coast of Queensland. I am happy to be back blogging on my laptop instead of my iPad. Now I can make the photos tell the story.
After an early morning walk along Woodgate Beach on the path under the graceful Sheoak Trees, it was time to pack the car and head for Childers, Bundaberg and Bargara.
|The access road off the main street in Childers|
Our travel companion and tour guide, Ann, comes from this area. She took us to a The Old Pharmacy Museum next to the Dentist - decayslayer.
A passionate local historian gave us a talk about all the exhibits. It was the original pharmacy from 1894. It was a fascinating place with old remedies, jars, medicines and prescription books.
Then it was time to reboot TOH with a coffee at the old Post Office, which is still in use today but it has a gift shop and coffee shop operating there too. This is also where Ann used to work in her youth as a telephonist.
The little town is full of these quaint old buildings still in use today.
I like this old Federal Hotel because it doesn't have any gaudy advertising on it like in some towns.
We walked up the main street to The Palace, which used to be a hotel and then a Backpackers Hostel but today it is an Information Centre, Art Space and most importantly a Memorial to 15 young backpackers who died when the hostel was deliberately burnt down by a disgruntled man, who is now in gaol. We were asked not to take photos in respect for the families. The young people were from all over the world working here on the tomato and zucchini farms.
While there we booked accommodation in Bargara and a turtle tour at Mon Repos Beach. After stopping for lunch in Bundaberg we soon arrived in Bargara on the coast. Our other friends. Helen and Paul met us there. They couldn't join us earlier due to Paul's cancer treatment.
We just had time for a quick sandwich before we needed to be at Mon Repos Beach to hopefully see the turtles.
|Watching videos about turtles|
We had to be there by 6:45 and there were about 200 people and we put into groups.We had to wait until the rangers had found turtles on the beach before we were taken there. We watched videos about turtles and visited the Information centre and ate ice creams while waiting anxiously for the ranger to call our group. We waited until ten o'clock. The turtles were late this night. Mon Repos is a conservation area and the beach is closed at night during the nesting and hatching season except when accompanied by a ranger.
In the information centre we learnt that Mon Repos is the biggest turtle rookery on the east coast mainland. There are different turtles, Loggerhead, Flat back, Leather back and Green Turtles. The turtles drag themselves up the beach to above the high tide line, dig a hole and lay around a hundred eggs, cover them with sand and then return to the sea. Six to eight weeks later the little hatchlings dig their way to the surface and flop to the sea. This all happens between November and March.
This is what we were hoping to see the hatchlings. These photos are from the web.
Finally after hours of waiting we were called to assemble on the beach with the ranger who told us we would be seeing a nesting not hatchlings but that was okay. For a while we thought we might not see anything this night. We were given rules about when we could or couldn't take photos. Turtles use light to help guide them to the water. We had to wait until the turtle had lumbered up the beach and dug her half a metre hole and started to lay eggs before we were allowed to get close. It was hard to take decent photos.
The ranger crept up to the hole at the back of the turtle and slid a torch onto the edge so we could see the eggs coming out and dropping into the hole. It is hard to make out but an egg is about to drop out.
The ranger picked some eggs out to show us. We could touch them, they are soft and leathery.Scientists have done lots of research and know what can and can't be done to the eggs and the turtles.
There was a research team there doing lots of measuring while the turtle is totally absorbed with her job of laying eggs. You can see that I had a front row view, Bill took the photos.
The scientist is showing some new volunteers how to tag the turtle.
She has finished laying eggs and is busily flicking piles of sand over the eggs and herself and everyone close to her. The scientist checks the tag is good. This guy has been responsible for the protection of these Loggerhead turtles and the steady increase in population but they are still on the endangered list.
She is done and now we must move away and stop all photography and lights as she turns around and lumbers back to the sea. Last year a turtle was found by a farmer in his fields close to death because she had gone inland attracted by the lights. She was rescued and rehabilitated and returned to the sea. She has returned this year to lay more eggs. Residents and councils now have a policy of keeping lights dim during nesting and hatching season. Only one in a thousand hatchlings survive for 35 years, which is when they will return to this same beach to lay their eggs after travelling thousands of miles around the oceans.
She finally disappeared under the sea and swam away after a mammoth effort. After all this effort her eggs would not survive because she did not go far enough up the beach to save her eggs from being washed away by high tides. However, the research team went back to the site and dug up all the eggs very carefully and then dug another nest in a safe place and put the eggs in it.
By then it was nearly midnight, we were tired but uplifted. It was an amazing experience.