Car parking at the Mon Repos Turtle Centre will increase to around 110 spaces to cater for increasing daytime visitation and participants in nightly tours during turtle nesting season.
The Queensland Government is investing $865,000 in the 2023-24 financial year to expand the car park, adding to the $135,000 spent in 2022-23, for a total investment $1 million for carparking upgrades at the centre.
In addition to increased car parking, improvements will be made to traffic circulation and visitor safety with the inclusion of traffic calming, designated pedestrian paths and turtle sensitive pedestrian lighting.
Initial construction works, including preparatory earthworks, will begin once design and required approvals are finalised, with some of the new car parks to be in place before the next turtle nesting season and nightly turtle tours, which usually take place from November to late March.
“We are now seeing visitor numbers at the Mon Repos Turtle Centre close to pre-pandemic levels, with some 53,000 visitors during 2022 and over the 2022-23 turtle season,” says Member for Bundaberg Tom Smith.
“Car park improvements at the centre will provide greater convenience for these visitors.
“Other recent improvements to the Mon Repos Turtle Centre include establishing an outdoor café area, and installation of an indigenous art gallery.”
The car park extensions have been made possible by government’s acquisition of a former sugar cane farm next door to the centre in 2021.
The car park has been designed so that vegetation removal will be minimised, in particular, the vegetation between the beach and the access road, required for mitigating vehicle headlight shine to the beach, will be retained.
Revegetation works will start next financial year on the remainder of the former sugar cane land to aid its transition to conservation park standard.
As part of this process, the Department of Environment and Science is working towards recreating and naturalising the wetland located on the acquired property, which was previously drained for farming purposes.
While improving the ecological and hydrological functions of the wetland, this should also see groundwater being naturally replenished and flowing through to the beach, cooling the dunes for improved turtle hatchling outcomes.
“Conscious travellers around the world are seeking sustainable holiday experiences and the Bundaberg Region has emerged as a significant eco-tourism destination which offers experiences that are protective and restorative to the environment and community in which they are taking place,” says Bundaberg Tourism CEO Katherine Reid.
“Mon Repos’ appeal to guests lies not just its position as the only ranger-guided turtle encounter available on the east-coast, but also in its history of more than 50 years of internationally acclaimed turtle research and conservation.
“Ongoing improvements to the Centre and the region not only enhance the visitor experience but also focus on the preservation of the turtles themselves, such as ongoing work on low-impact street lighting.
“We look forward to many more years of working alongside the Queensland Government as we educate and captivate our visitors at Mon Repos.”