Now more than ever are we looking for ways that we, as consumers, can travel sustainably, while forging deeper connections with people and place, and seeking experiences that feed the soul. One destination leading the way with exceptional eco-experiences that help protect and preserve our backyard is the Bundaberg region with local eco-tourism warriors, supported by a passionate local community and proactive local government, are striving to achieve Eco Tourism status and encouraging visitors and locals alike to travel sustainably – Welcome to where great care begins in Bundaberg.
Welcome to Bundaberg, Queensland
Welcome to Bundaberg, the town the turtles call home on the Southern Great Barrier Reef, where iconic drinks are always world-class, your plates are always full of fresh local produce and pristine beaches await. The Bundaberg region is truly where great begins; the Great Barrier Reef, great tastes, great beaches, great memories, and great care.
Located at the southernmost gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and just north of Brisbane, the Bundaberg region is overflowing with natural wonders, tantalising flavours, and as passion for sustainable experiences that protect and preserve our beautiful backyard.
Renowned for being home to international award-winning drink brands, Bundaberg Rum and Bundaberg Brewed Drinks, these icons not only deliver on taste, but experience while continuing to weave the importance of sustainability into their evolving narrative through their day-to-day productions and ensuring care for our environment and the town that shares its name is at the forefront of what they do.
Just a stone throw from the regions pristine coastline are the ladies of the reef, Lady Elliot Island and Lady Musgrave Island. Surrounded by vibrant blue sun-kissed waters, these coral cays are abundant with giant marine life year-round, as curious turtles and giant manta rays play and feed among the coral gardens.
The town turtles call home
Commonly referred to as the town the turtles call home, come swim alongside curious turtles year-round as these ancient creatures feed among the plankton rich waters of the Great Barrier Reef, and witness nesting and hatching turtles scurry to the sea between November to March, during the regions annual turtle season. Home to the Mon Repos Beach, the largest turtle rookery for endangered Loggerhead nesting turtles in the Southern Hemisphere and only ranger-guided turtle encounter on the Australian East Coast, this stretch of beach plays an integral role for turtle research and conservation.
Every day the people in our community and our local businesses make sustainable choices to help preserve our natural surrounds for generations to come. From implementing eco-friendly packaging, to no-waste policies and practices that minimise run-off into our oceans, we are proud to be a region continually striving for, and innovating to be even more sustainable.
An emerging eco destination in the making
The regions spectacular natural environment plays a significant role in the communities’ daily lives, from the curious sea turtles that swim among the coral-filled waters just off the coastline, to the majestic manta rays and giant marine life that feed on the Southern Great Barrier Reef, to the hardworking locals responsible for providing fresh produce to 25% of the nation 365-days a year. The regions passion for protecting and preserving shines through in the sustainable choices and visitor experiences every day.
As the first city of the Great Barrier Reef and southernmost gateway, understanding and adapting to climate change has remained at the forefront, with Bundaberg Regional Council and the community supporting and implementing local Eco initiatives such as banning single use plastics to reduce waste, and reducing urban glow to protect the turtles who frequent the regions beaches, as artificial light from surrounding towns is known to effect turtle hatchlings navigation to the sea. These are just a few ways which the community is committed to enacting change and there are many more initiatives which visitors can take part in.
Located north of Brisbane, Queensland, you can arrive in just over 4hrs by car or 45minute flight from Brisbane. Not a fan of flying or driving? Queensland Rail Travel offers a relaxed and smooth journey from Brisbane to Bundaberg letting you sit-back and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
As conscious travellers, reducing our urban footprint is important and to help combat our emissions when flying, Qantas Airlines offers passengers the opportunity to offset their emissions through their not-for-profit Fly Carbon Neutral Program, which supports accredited projects that offset your carbon footprint, and make a positive impact on the planet. Find your most sustainable flights to Bundaberg here.
How to be a sustainable visitor while in region
Caring for our backyard is about connecting, protecting, and sharing our experiences with those near and far, encouraging and educating friends and relatives on the wonders of the world so they will feel inspired to experience it for themselves and continue to spread great care for our environment.
When in region, local eco-warriors are dedicated to helping you experience a sustainable holiday, whether it be in the form of your bio-degradable takeaway cup from the Windmill Café in the coastal town of Bargara, or spending a night at Eco-Certified, Kellys Beach Resort, it’s never been easier to travel sustainably and here are a few highlight experiences that will not only leave you with memories to last a lifetime, but care deeply.
MUST-DO SUSTAINABLE & ECO-FRIENDLY EXPERIENCES
Witness a miracle at Mon Repos
Nestled on the coast of Bundaberg is Mon Repos, home to the largest turtle rookery for endangered loggerhead turtles in the Southern Hemisphere, and just a stones throw away from southern coral cays, Lady Musgrave and Lady Elliot Islands. Each year during November to March, Mon Repos Beach comes alive at night with turtle tracks painting the shore as mother turtles heave themselves up sandy dunes and baby hatchlings make their first steps as they scurry to the sea, where only 1 in 1000 will survive the odds.
Guided by Turtle Rangers with more than 50 years of turtle research under their belt, come take an unrivalled peak behind the curtain of this natural wonder and witness first-hand the incredible conservation work of Mon Repos Conservation Park with a Mon Repos Nightly Turtle Encounter, knowing that funds from your ticket goes back into critical turtle research, saving the turtles one ticket at a time.
Visiting during turtle season? Do your part and help reduce urban glow by taking part in the Bundaberg Regional Council’s reduce urban glow initiative by ensuring outside lights on balconies are turned off, close curtains to keep light from your TV from spilling outside and distracting the turtles, and help them journey to the sea.
Mon Repos Turtle Encounters Link: www.bundabergregion.org/turtles
Bundaberg Regional Council Reduce Urban Glow Link: https://www.bundaberg.qld.gov.au/environment/reducing-urban-glow
Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort
Just a short 25-minute flight from Bundaberg airport is the first lady of the Great Barrier Reef, Lady Elliot Island. Rich in biodiversity both above and below the surface, this southern coral cay is a safe haven for more than 1,000 species of marine life within a highly protected Green Zone, and is one of the first Islands of the reef to be recognized as a ‘Climate Change Ark’ by the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.
Surrounded by pristine fringing reefs and abundant with giant marine life, Lady Elliot Island makes for a snorkeler and diving wonderland with majestic manta rays, turtles, tropical reef fish and whales frequenting these plankton rich waters.
Offering both day-trips and overnight accommodation, Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle and reconnect with nature. As an advanced Ecotourism leader and with many Eco credentials and awards under their belt, Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort continues to safeguard the reef. From spending your days exploring an underwater playground, you’ll be sure to leave with a deeper connection and appreciation for our environment and creating change.
Lady Musgrave Experience
With more than 3000 acres of thriving reef, Lady Musgrave Island is just a hop, jump and skip away from Bundaberg with a luxury boat ride on board Lady Musgrave Experience departing from Bundaberg Port Marina. Upon your arrival you’ll be greeted by sun-kissed waters and breathtaking corals acting as an abundant paradise full of marine life which awaits just beneath the surface. Spend your day exploring with giant turtles as your local guides as they lazily swim beside you. Snorkel alongside manta rays and dance with dolphins before diving deeper and exploring some of the most remote and untouched outer reefs.
Once you’ve arrived you won’t want to leave and with the launch of Lady Musgrave HQ, a bespoke three tier sustainable and Eco friendly pontoon, you can now sleep on the reef and wake to 360 degree views of crystal blue waters. From glass-bottom boat tours, scenic island walks with a reef expert and diving expeditions plus more able to be had during your time in this haven the Southern Great Barrier Reef, you can also enrich your experience and become a marine biologist for a day learning alongside Master Reef Guides and capture important data of the reef, giving back to important research. An experience that will leave you with a newfound appreciation, Lady Musgrave Experience is the complete citizen scientist and reef-lover experience.
Bundaberg Rum Visitor Experience
Recently awarded the title of World’s Best Distillery Tour at the 2021 International Spirits Challenge, the Bundaberg Rum Visitor Experience is a must-do, attracting thousands of rum lovers from far and wide each year, and an icon of the region. Where world-class blends have been distilled and bottled since 1888, sustainability has always been a part of the Bundaberg Rum story and shines through in everything that they do.
After exploring the distillery museum where stories of past master blenders are housed, go behind the scenes with a Bundaberg Rum expert, into the beating heart of the fully working distillery, and uncover the secret to what makes their Rum world renowned. Upholding the Bundaberg mate-ship spirit, discover how they continuously reimagine ways to be more sustainable and use waste to support local farmers, before sampling the range for yourself feeling the warmth of this liquid gold that’s recognized as Australia’s favourite spirit.
Bundaberg Brewed Drinks
Naturally brewed and born out of Bundaberg for more than 50 years, Bundaberg Ginger Beer has been an Aussie favourite since 1968. With their range now extending to 15 flavour-filled drinks, this family owned and operated internationally renowned brand, continues to brew their crafted drinks using locally sourced ingredients and the same time-honored family recipes that have paved their way to success.
Visit the home of this great Australian brew and uncover their passion for crafting quality brews on an immersive self-guided tour where you can understand their unique process and taste the range to pick your favourite 6 flavours ready to take home and enjoy later. With the motto ‘brewed to be better’, Bundaberg Brewed Drinks share great care for the land seeking to always innovate and strive for sustainable productions partnering with Bundaberg’s local university, CQUniversity, to share their innovations with local farmers, working behind-the-scenes to create change. An experience that is uniquely Bundaberg, you won’t want to miss this taste-bud tingling attraction!
Did you know Bundaberg is the largest producing region for Macadamia’s in Australia? With more than 2000 tones of nut in shell harvested each year, Macadamias Australia is the largest producer of quality macadamia nuts and live a legacy which has been showcasing sustainable farming for more than three generations. Having been brought up with a deep respect for the land which produces this native nut, the Macadamias Australia family have continued to innovate their business and production to protect and preserve the region they love. Taking that next step towards enhancing and educating others about the importance of sustainability while sharing their quality macadamia nuts, visitors can now see their passion with the launch of their new Visitor Experience which opened in 2021.
Nestled among their original macadamia orchard, make your way through lush macadamia trees before weaving your way into the Visitor Experience Centre. Journey past towering pillars made from the macadamia trees that were recycled from the original orchard and travel through time learning the history of how this family owned and run establishment came to be. Sample their quality products with a guided tasting of their premium nuts or by taking a seat at the onsite, Orchard Café, which also showcases local produce and admire the legacy and sustainable build of the Centre itself among the lush surrounds of macadamia trees, bringing together a unique tree-to-table experience.
Discover Beautiful Beaches
Stretching from Woodgate Beach in the south to Baffle Creek in the north, the Bundaberg region is blessed with beautiful beaches. Known as the Coral Coast where the Southern Great Barrier Reef is just off the shore, the regions coastline is surrounded by fringing corals, reefs within reach and pristine beaches perfect for your next seaside escape. Committed to preserving these havens, Bundaberg Regional Council’s Coastal Hazard Adaptation Strategy helps protect and preserve these for all to enjoy.
Soak up some vitamin sea where river meets reef at Elliott Heads Beach or Burnett Heads. Learn how to snorkel among the calm waters of The Basin in Bargara or pack a picnic and dip your toes in the sand at Kellys Beach. With more than 16km of stretching beach and ample space for you to choose to relax and disconnect, Woodgate Beach and Moore Park Beach offer a tranquil escape. No matter where you choose to make a splash, the Bundaberg region has plenty of picturesque beaches.
Accommodation with Kellys Beach Resort
Nestled on a creek, just a block back from the beach, Kellys Beach Resort gained eco-certification through EcoTourism Australia in 2015. Internationally recognised, this certification allows guests to relax in the knowledge that the resort is doing everything it can to protect the natural beauty of the Bundaberg coastline and the waters of the Southern Great Barrier Reef while they holiday.
With Kellys Beach Resort committed to thinking green, guests can have peace of mind knowing that while they are relaxing in the natural beauty of Bundaberg and the Southern Great Barrier Reef, Kellys is doing everything they can to protect it. With their lush open garden surrounds, close proximity to the heart of Bargara and Bundaberg, Kellys Beach Resort ticks all your sustainable accommodation needs without compromising on experience and quality with more than 40 eco villas for you to make yourself at home.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bundaberg Tourism is a not-for-profit, membership-based organisation and is recognized as the official Regional Tourism Organisation for the Bundaberg Region, that is located 4-hrs North of Brisbane, Queensland. Bundaberg Tourism works in partnership with Bundaberg Regional Council and the local tourism industry to drive visitation to the destination, build and maintain a healthy and sustainable regional tourism economy. Sustainability is at the forefront of the visitor experience and is a foundational pillar of the Bundaberg Region’s tourism strategy, with a strong community sense of responsibility for the land, for the turtle population and for the Great Barrier Reef. Bundaberg Tourism works with Bundaberg Regional Council in support of the ECO Destination Certification, an enormous undertaking that requires collaboration across all sectors of the region, and is engaged as Council’s conduit to the tourism Industry leveraging our existing relationships to increase industry engagement with the project. For more information go to www.bundabergregion.org.