Mon Repos turtles drew record crowd last night
UPDATE MONDAY: IT'S confirmed - last night drew a record crowd of 30,369 visitors to Mon Repos, the highest ever number for a season.
The next season kicks off again in November.
IT'S a Mon Repos record.
Despite a lower cap placed on visitors to the famous turtle centre due to this summer's extreme heat, tonight, the last visiting night for the season, is about to set a record for most visitors in a season.
"Tonight will tip us over the record from last year,” Bundaberg North Burnett Tourism general manager Katherine Mergard said today.
Last year had 30,222 visitors set foot on the sand to witness turtles nesting and hatching.
But with the season's total after Saturday night at 30,184, last night was expected to eclipse the record by more than 130 people.
"Our (nightly) capacity at the moment set by National Parks is 180,” Ms Mergard said this afternoon.
"About an hour ago we had seven spots left.
"If we end up fully booked, we will have 30,364.”
With records also broken for Bundaberg summer temperatures, turtle numbers suffered this season.
Fewer clutches survived the heat.
Shade cloths were placed over sections of the dunes to try to keep the nests cool.
"We had to adjust our target but it still enabled us to break the record,” Ms Mergard said.
This season has had more international visitors and pre-bookings than usual.
"On the first of September there was a flood of bookings for December and January,” Ms Mergard said.
"Our campaigns have been talking a lot about not only Bundaberg as the home of Mon Repos and the turtles, but framing it as that bucket list experience - saying to people, 'don't miss out',” she said.
The BNBT campaign has included travel bloggers spreading the word.
Phoebe Lee of blog Little Grey Box described watching a turtle lay at Mon Repos as "a really magical thing”.
"It really calms you , she's so peaceful,” Ms Lee said of the mother turtle.
Next year visits may be affected by the $10 million Turtle Centre redevelopment at Mon Repos.
It is expected to be finished by the 2018-19 season.
Ms Mergard praised the work of rangers who lived a nocturnal lifestyle running tours and monitoring turtles.
"They do such an amazing job night after night,” she said.