My "Australia Bucket List" could be at least a hundred items long but I had to be realistic and narrow it down to things we could actually do over the next 100 days (a.k.a. while I'm very pregnant or caring for a newborn and recovering, and while the boys are still in school during the week).
One of the things I wanted to do was to visit the Mon Repos Turtle Centre again. A couple years ago, we drove up and we got to see a mother loggerhead turtle lay her eggs. This time, I wanted to see turtle hatchlings come out of the nest.
So after church on Sunday, we packed the boys into the car and made the 5 hour drive up to Bargara. It wasn't the most comfortable thing to be doing while 36-weeks pregnant but it had to be done. When we got there, we found out that we had signed up for the very last tour of this season. How incredibly lucky we didn't wait any later!
We didn't have to wait very long before they called us out to the beach. And because it was a Sunday night, our group was very small, probably not much more than 30 people, so we managed to get an excellent viewing spot. The boys sat right in front of the nest and watched as the baby turtles dug their way out of the sand.
Once all the little turtles had emerged from the nest, they lined us all up along a path between the nest and the ocean. The rangers came around with a couple hatchlings. We held out our hands and felt those tiny little claws scratching our palms as they frantically paddled their little flippers.
After everyone had their turn, the rangers asked for volunteers who had their own torches to make a tunnel of light. Luckily we brought one so Nathan got to be part of that. Unfortunately, it was a hand-crank one that we had left sitting around for the past year so he ended up having to crank it while he stood there in the tunnel. He did so well trying to keep the light where the turtles needed it. Nathan later told me he felt sorry for us (Andrew, Caleb and me) because we didn't get to be part of the tunnel but I'm glad he got the chance to do it.
Once the last of the little turtles made it into the ocean, we went back to the nest for the nest dig, which is when they dig up the nest to count how many successful hatchlings there were. As our ranger dug, he found a bunch more turtles who had yet to make their way out so he had to actually fill the nest back in to let the turtles do their thing (dig themselves out).
Most of our group wasn't interested in sticking around for the nest dig anyway so the ranger brought us all back to the centre. Nathan was interested in watching the nest dig so we decided to stick around. We waited awhile for them to find another nest for us to see but eventually, they called us back. By this time, our group had dwindled down to 8 people.
As we made our way back across the beach, I heard Caleb tell Andrew, "Daddy, I'm going to sleep soon. Can you carry me?" but he ended up walking all the way to the nest anyway. We found one more little turtle who was still making his way out of the nest and then it was time to dig into the hole.
Caleb worked industriously alongside the ranger, digging up his own hole. At first I thought he was just playing around, then I realized he was doing exactly what the ranger was doing. It was adorable to see him mimicking the ranger's actions - the scooping, the piling of sand. "I'm doing what he's doing," Caleb explained.
As the ranger was finishing up his count, the skies burst open and it started to pour. We made our way back to the centre as quickly as we could and the boys stayed pretty dry with their raincoats on but Andrew and I were drenched. It's a good thing we packed a set of clothes and towels for everyone - we changed, tucked the boys into their seats and drove another 5 hours home. It was a bit of a whirlwind trip but it was worth it.