The below guide includes all the top things to do in Bargara Queensland and gives an insight into this picturesque coastal town.
With the Southern Great Barrier Reef at its doorstep, Bargara has a lot to offer for a small seaside town. A popular destination for snorkelling and diving. Home to one of the largest loggerhead turtle populations in the South Pacific Ocean region. A family-friendly location with brilliant playgrounds, protected swimming areas, and an esplanade that hugs the coastline.
Bargara is a location you could visit at all times of the year, however, if you are after a turtle encounter the best time to visit Bargara is from November to March. You can read more about this below.
In this article, I share our experience with visiting Bargara and my suggested 3-day itinerary. At the bottom of the post, you can find some additional suggestions on what to do and see if you have more time.
Continue reading for our best tips and the perfect itinerary for Bargara QLD.
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Featured Image: Bargara Beach © Tourism and Events Queensland
Table of Contents
Top Things to do in Bargara
Below are suggestions of what to do in Bargara when you have 2 full days available, however, with the additional activities listed at the bottom, the guide can be adjusted based on your interests and time.
If you are taking a tour it is always a good idea to check their availability before setting your itinerary. For example, you may need to swap days around based on the tour.
The Bargara Esplanade
Take a stroll along the picturesque Bargara Esplanade with 6 kilometres of paved pathways. It is common to see many people getting in their daily movement along this walkway. A perfect path for scooters, bikes, a walk or a run. Stretching from Nielson’s Park to The Basin (in the south) the palm tree-lined foreshore and views over the Coral Coast make this walk extremely enjoyable.
When you work up an appetite drop in at a local café and pick up a takeaway. There are many picnic tables and seating along the esplanade to enjoy the view. Or, take advantage of the free BBQ areas.
For a longer walk or cycle, you can continue along the Turtle Trail after you reach Nielson Park. The shared (cyclist and walking) pathway will take you through the Mon Repos Turtle Reserve. Once you leave the reserve you will find yourself cycling or walking along the beachfront to Burnett Heads.
Practical Information: The Mon Repos section of the Turtle Trail closes during turtle nesting and hatching season – October 15th to April 30th from 6 pm to 6 am.
Day Trip to Bundaberg
Bargara is only 14 kilometres from the regional city of Bundaberg. There are many things to do in Bundaberg and you could spend several days alone exploring the town. If you enjoy nature and a green oasis then I would recommend the Bundaberg Botanical Gardens.
Stroll around the Bundaberg Botanical Gardens spread over 27 hectares and feature a variety of trees and shrubs. At the heart of the gardens is a lake that attracts lots of bird life.
Boardwalks and pathways connect the 14 different gardens which include a Japanese and Chinese garden, Australian rainforest, and a prehistoric garden. There are lots of shady areas to enjoy a picnic or dine at the onsite café. The kids will enjoy the nature-themed playground and a big hit is the train ride.
The Australian Sugar Cane Railway will take you on a 2-kilometre circuit through the botanical gardens. The circuit travels over bridges and through the locomotive workshop, past gardens and other attractions, including the Hinkler Hall of Aviation and the Bundaberg Historical Museum.
Entry into the Botanical Gardens: Entry is free and the gardens are open 7 days a week.
Practical Info about the Railway: Tickets are from $6 per adult and $2 per school-age child (under 5’s are free). A family of four can ride for $15. Cash is required. The train operates on Sundays and Wednesdays (weather permitting). During school holidays the train operates on extra days. Visit their Facebook page here for more information.
Swim at The Basin
Found at the northern end of Kellys Beach, The Basin is a man-made protected swimming area. Built out of local volcanic rock, the rock pool is a brilliant place for families and a great spot if your kids are interested in snorkelling. If you happen to be there at high tide strap on your goggles and you will encounter the fish that call The Basin home.
Mon Repos Turtle Encounter
One of the most popular reasons that visitors travel to Bargara (and our biggest drawcard) is to experience a turtle encounter at Mon Repos. The Mon Repos Turtle season runs from November to March each year. Mother turtles ascend the beach typically between November and January, and the hatchlings start emerging from January to March.
Mon Repos has the most significant loggerhead turtle nesting population in the South Pacific region. It also supports the largest concentration of nesting marine turtles on the East Coast of Australia’s mainland.
With an estimated 1 in 1000 turtles surviving to adulthood your ticket donation is going to a good cause with 100% of the profits going towards turtle research, conservation and the survival of the endangered loggerhead turtle.
If you are visiting Bargara outside of these months the Mon Repos Turtle Centre can still be accessed as it is open year-round. Take a guided ranger walk through the conservation park, learn about turtles from the centre’s many displays and browse the gift shop for a turtle souvenir.
Practical Information: Seeing a turtle/s is not guaranteed and it can be a late night, so bare this in mind if you have young children. The centre opens at 7 pm and you will need to wait for your group to be called (groups are automatically created) at any time during the night. On our encounter, we were one of the last groups and it was close to midnight before we ventured out onto the sand.
The season can differ depending on the turtles. Click here to find more information about the turtle encounter, FAQ’s and how to book.
Take a stroll along the popular 2-kilometre stretch known as Kellys Beach. The southern end of Kellys Beach is fully patrolled by lifeguards making it a great choice for a swim.
The flowing causeway that links Moneys Creek and the ocean is a brilliant spot for the kids to swim in calm protected waters. With shady BBQ areas on the shoreline, this is a fabulous area and a local favourite.
Kellys Beach is also a popular place if you also enjoy spending your time on the water. Take advantage of the causeway by learning to stand up paddleboard before venturing out to the open ocean.
Practical Information: The Bundaberg Council opens the tide gates on the causeway normally once a month. During this time the swimming area (located on the east) of the causeway on Moneys Creek outlet is closed. Please pay attention to the signage.
A little further south is Archies Beach which is the beach to visit if you are a dog owner, as it is one of the few places in Bargara where your furry friend can join you.
Day Trip to Elliott Heads
Elliott Heads is a beautiful seaside town 10 minutes’ drive from Bargara. It is where the river meets the ocean and is a hot spot for kite surfers. The incredible blue waters and patrolled beach are a haven for surfers and those wanting to spend some time in the waves.
Surrounded by pristine sand flats the river mouth offers calmer waters for families to paddle or stand up paddle board. During low tide, you may be lucky to find a crystal-clear lagoon to enjoy.
To explore the coastline follow the pathways located around Elliott Heads Life Saving Club.
Close to the esplanade is the Elliott Heads Submarine Lookout; an important historic landmark in the town. Elliott Heads played a significant part in WW2 and this memorial serves as a reminder of the members of the 10th Battalion Volunteer Defence Corps that manned this post.
Tinaberries is the perfect stopover on your way to or from Elliott Heads. During strawberry season (June to October) the farm is open to purchase fresh strawberries and open to “pick your own” in September.
Their real fruit ice cream is one of the biggest enticements and is available year-round. Decadent pastel-coloured ice-creams swirl perfectly into a crisp waffle cone, garnished with a berry on top. Relax in the farm garden that is filled with oversized outdoor games for the kids.
Practical Information: 15 Zinks Road, Bundaberg. Opening hours and exact timing for PYO strawberries can vary depending on season, weather and availability.
Turtle Park and Playground
The Bargara turtle park is a big shaded playground and as the name suggests it is shaped like a turtle. With a backdrop overlooking Bargara Beach and plenty of seating and tables close by this is a perfect spot for a picnic. The turtle consists of different play areas for kids and is aimed at primary school children.
Christsen Park is another fabulous picnic area and has a large playground. This playground is yet again located on the Bargara foreshore and offers sublime views. There is lots of green space adjoining the playground to throw down a rug or take shelter in one of the undercover BBQ areas.
More things to do at Bargara
If you are lucky enough to have more time, you can find more activities in Bargara below:
Bargara Beach is situated directly across from the town centre. Across the road are plenty of cafés and restaurants. Grab a takeaway to enjoy close to the water’s edge.
The beach is around 300 metres long and is crossed by three basalt groynes (low walls built out from the beach). These groynes are designed to keep the sand in place and define the boat ramp area. The beach is defined by two sections. North of the main groyne is the shorter sand section fronted by rock flats, whereas there is more sand on the south side.
Bargara is fringed by four beaches. Neilson Park Beach is at the northern end of Bargara opposite the Bargara Surf Lifesaving Club. The picturesque location is a popular swimming and surfing spot. Bargara Beach is in the centre and then Kellys Beach (mentioned above) is to the south, which also consists of two parts.
Visit Amandine Lavender
Amandine Lavender offers a charming gift shop selling a range of lavender products to delight the senses. Visitors can also wander the lavender patch on a self-guided tour where you can learn how to propagate lavender.
Visit Amandine Lavender Farm and Gift Shop for a special souvenir to take home. Established in 2008 in rural Bargara the lavender farm was an alternative industry to an existing sugarcane farm.
Practical Information: 288 Seaview Road, Bargara. Open from 10 am to 4 pm daily (except Christmas and some public holidays).
Lady Musgrave Day Trip
Magic on the Great Barrier Reef! 3000 acres of living reef located on the Southern Great Barrier Reef and only a day trip from Bundaberg. The area is rich in marine life! Some of the ways to explore the magnificent coral cays include snorkelling, diving, island tours and a glass bottom boat experience.
Board a vessel at Bundaberg and set sail for a full-day tour to Lady Musgrave where you will experience snorkelling in the sheltered waters, a glass bottom boat tour and a guided island walk.
Lady Elliott Island Day Trip
The other Queensland island on the Southern Great Barrier Reef is Lady Elliott Island. The coral cay sits in a protected “Green Zone” and is known for its untouched coral reef and incredible marine life.
Access to Lady Elliott Island is on a small aircraft and departure ports include Bundaberg, Hervey Bay, Brisbane and the Gold Coast. Day trips are available, however, as there is accommodation on the island you can also choose to stay and experience the island paradise.
Splitters Farm is a 160-acre property set amongst bushland only 10 minutes north of Bundaberg. The acreage is a working farm and a sanctuary for rescued farm animals and home to many native Australian animals.
Purchased in 2017 Ashley and Carly Clark realised that many other families could benefit from this farm lifestyle. It is now a popular place to camp and experience a working farm firsthand.
You can meet all the usual farm animals at Splitters along with others that are more unique including peacocks and a camel.
If a day trip is not enough Splitters Farm offers a range of glamping and camping options.
Practical Information: There is a day-trippers fee to gain access to Splitters Farm and to access some of the activities. Click here to purchase an entry ticket. Or for a private guided tour of the farm, you can purchase tickets here.
Being a small coastal town lots of accommodation options are centrally located and in walking distance to dining venues and attractions in Bargara. I have compiled a list below of some popular accommodation suggestions.
C Bargara Resort – 4.5* beachfront apartments on the Bargara Esplanade.
Big4 Breeze Holiday Parks – Catering to a range of travellers with the option of camping sites and cosy cabins. The Big4 is located north of the town hub overlooking Nielson’s Beach.
Bargara Blue Resort – Spacious self-catering apartments in walking distance of Kellys Beach.
Nautilus Beachside Apartments – Located only 300 metres from Bargara Beach and a short walk to the turtle park. These self-contained apartments are centrally located in Bargara.
Where to Eat in Bargara
The Windmill Café
The delightfully charming blue windmill is an iconic location in Bargara. Whether you enjoy an acai bowl or an eggs benny there are many options on their all-day breakfast menu catering to all tastes. Serving up food that has been sourced from the region the lunch menu is available from 11 am and delicious treats are in stock for morning and afternoon tea.
Practical Information: Open every day from 7 am to 2 pm
Bargara Beach Hotel
The Bargara Beach Hotel has a laid-back beach-style vibe, which you come to expect once you have spent some time in Bargara. Bistro-style dining with the option of inside or alfresco seating. From burgers to seafood the latest menu has a huge variety including kid’s meals.
Practical Information: Open every day. Lunch from 12 pm to 2 pm. Dinner from 5.30 pm to 8 pm.
I hope you enjoyed the above guide on what to do in Bargara! If you need further assistance with planning your Queensland holiday, make sure to check out our other articles as well. Below are some of our travel guides that may help.
- The Most Amazing Stops on a Brisbane to Townsville Road Trip
- The Top Outstanding Reasons to Visit Noosa
- The Best Things to do in Maleny
Do you have any unanswered questions? Let me know in the comments below!
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