Part 3 of Top 10 Things to do at Bundaberg
The yearning for sand and sea is natural, at least from after the intense reptile and animal tour at Childers, Bundaberg. The beaches in Bundaberg would be a pleasant shift.
The high point of beach visits lies in its preparation, getting together towels, jandals, sunscreen and sunshades. Not forgetting a picnic hamper which brings particular delight in packing in roast beef sandwiches loaded with butter and cheese. As for me, I prefer to add slices of tomato, cucumber, sweet peppers, avocado and dill if only to assuage a dieter’s guilt.
When in Australia, do as the Aussies do and that is sip beer after Bundaberg beer. Ales or lager or ginger beer are all good as long as you sip them at designated picnic spots and not litter the beaches or for that matter any other place. Littering is an offence and deeply frowned upon, so much so that if spotted littering the locals won’t hesitate to call the authorities in a jiffy.
One late morning saw us head for the beaches from our Bundaberg homestay, in a Honda HRV. We were equipped with hamper, ice buckets, thermos flasks filled with chilled water, beverages, lemon-scented wipes, hand sanitizers and the works!
To me, the roads seemed like roadways to heaven. The difference is palpable as I come from a highly populated city of traffic gridlocks. On this particular weekday, the streets seemed a smooth sail. Apparently, their non-peak times are 6-8am, 10-12noon and after 5.30pm on weekdays. These tips, however little, obtained from locals are useful in saving time and achieving more in a tour. Tips are what transforms tourists into travellers if you have a nose for it.
We pulled up under a tree by the road close to Mon Repos Beach, among the famous beaches of Queensland. We ambled along the boardwalk toward the beach, which is well known for its turtle nesting and hatching. It was, however, unfortunate that we went a-visiting in May which isn’t the right season for turtle spotting. By Jove, the turtles are known to come in doles and are a sight to behold!
To see hundreds of turtles waddle onto the beach and hatch their eggs in dunes would have been an exclusive experience. There are guided tours in the night which is the time when turtles are known to make their way there. November to March is the period to go turtle spotting.
One thing, animal conservation is a thing to reckon in this country, and so everything from not flashing lights to not touching the reptiles is accorded sacred status. As indicated earlier, littering isn’t looked kindly upon as it affects the turtles’ progress and its reproduction. I wholly respect the Aussies’ penchant for animals and giving their animals the most natural environments to sustain their species.
The Mon Repos Beach is also well known for another reason. That it once had been the testing ground for Bert Hinkler’s first experimental hangar. More about Hinkler, the inspiring pilot, will follow in subsequent articles.
Mon Repos Beach is tucked into what is approximately 14 kilometres northeast of Bundaberg. Even though most of QLD’s population is concentrated in Fraser Coast and Bundaberg, the city seems somewhat sequestered. Perhaps the ratio of 93,000 people to a vast land expanse of 305 square km could be one of the reasons.
Our next stop was at Kellys Beach, south of Bargara, QLD. It is a breathtakingly beautiful beach, with white sands and a cool breeze blowing there hair locks off your face and sending your scarf in different directions. You never know the meaning of cool until you visit the beach and feel the nippy air, which makes wearing layered clothing and scarves a necessity. Otherwise, it’s a sunny and bright city where inspires light casual wear.
Swimming at this beach is fine under ordinary conditions, the same goes for surfing and fishing.
However, children opt to swim in the shallow lagoon at the same beach as with no inflow of tidal waves it is a safer swimming bet. A lagoon by definition is a shallow water body that is separated from a larger river or sea. This one is separated by sand which would have been pushed ashore by waves, forming sand deposits cutting off the shallow body of water from the main sea.
The sea by Kellys Beach is the Coral Sea, which I learnt from the locals. No mention of the name of the sea in Google search.
I was far at ease at the beach side with the solace of not having to see reptiles share space with me for a change. Barely had the comforting thought flitted through my mind when I was cautioned to look out for sea snakes that could be venomous. Ouch. Not that they are oft-seen but being forewarned is better than being blissfully ignorant. This is the advantage of teaming up with locals on tour; they tell you a lot more than you are likely to find from other sources, including the internet.
Having dug our feet into the grainy but smooth sands, building dunes and taking a teeny dip in the lagoon, we headed for Bargara Beach.
Bargara beach is an antithesis of Kellys Beach in that it’s a frightfully rocky beach. So unalike the rest of the beaches in Bundaberg.
At the extreme end of the beach is a small park built for children based on a turtle theme. With Mon Repos turtle stories, the park keeps children engaged in scampering over a giant turtle, entering its body cavity from the rear and emerging from its mouth. There are water jets, pseudo springs trickling from fishes’ mouths and what else to keep the kiddies happily occupied.
Apart from the obvious recreational activity, I admire the city’s mission to blend education with amusement and to respect the need for turtle conservation.
We didn’t venture going out for a swim or even a walk along Bargara beach as rocks, great black rocks encircled it. We didn’t miss an opportunity to capture photos, though, atop the dark boulders with the wind blowing the hair and shirt unruly.
And then the gastric juices have a way of keeping pace with the hour of the day, making us ready to gorge on our picnic feast. We raked up a barbecue at a public barbecue spot. As long as you clean up after firing up a barbecue, their use is encouraged.
Out came the ginger beer which tingled the thirsty palate. Never pass up a chance to sip on a Bundy ginger beer when in this city. It is among my favourite drinks, take my word for it or try it. There are water taps to clean up after snacking, and clean public toilets that allow freedom from being out all day without a care.
Three beaches in a day was time well spent, three distinctly different beaches in Bundaberg. What strikes me the most is that even beaches aren’t devoid of an affair with an animal or a reptile. Truly an animal-loving Australia!
Tomorrow will see us at Bundaberg Rum Factory, an unforgettable experience and to a great extent, an educative one!