Watch: Special Bundy tradition rings in turtle season
THE BELLS at Christ Church rang out this morning to symbolise one of Bundaberg's favourite times of the year and welcome the first turtle to emerge on our shores.
And Mon Repos ranger Cathy Gatley said the annual tradition was extra special this year, as it marks 10 years since the bell was first rung for the occasion.
Turtle season started off with a boom, with the first sighting being the longest studied turtle in the world.
The turtle, which is estimated to be in her 70s, first started nesting at Mon Repos in 1974 and is undertaking her 17th breeding season this year, which occurs every three to four years.
"Each year we get together with our junior turtle rangers from the schools and we ring the bells both here and at the church in Bargara and lots of kids join in by ringing bells in their classrooms," Ms Gatley said.
"We were certainly very excited when we saw the flathead turtle arrive at the beach and there was a lot of thrill from volunteers and workers and ringing the bell is a great way to let the broader community know that the turtles are here and to get people thinking that it is turtle season and they might encounter a turtle."
Despite the event happening every year, Ms Gatley said it was always an exciting time.
The Mon Repos ranger said night-time tours will attract around 30,000 people, indicating the importance of the stunning sea animals in this region.
"People that live along the coast can help by looking at any lights they have at home and they can turn off external lighting to make sure that when businesses are closed they don't have any lights on," Ms Gatley said.
"It's not just direct lights near the beaches, it's the overall glow of lights that's making our beaches lighter.
"Both hatchling and nursing turtles really need dark beaches … they bring lots of joy to the surrounding area, they bring lots of tourism to town, so it's really important to help them out as much as we can."
St Luke's student Xander Jongkees said he aspired to be a turtle activist and was excited to see them.
"We're here today for our school because the first turtle has laid her eggs," he said.
"If the mummy turtles see light and they're about to lay their eggs, they just go 'nah, I'm not gonna lay my eggs here' and if they (hatchlings) go to the wrong place they might get in danger and might die.
"(People should) make sure they don't put rubbish on the beach."
Despite the season starting a little earlier than usual, it is not uncommon.
And while the volunteer patroller roles are full, turtle lovers are encouraged to go and see the beautiful creatures this season.
The new turtle centre is set to open on November 9 for the night-time tours.