Back to Nature on Lady Elliot Island

4th March 2014   |   Jackie Hutchings

Something strange happened last week . . . . Let me set the scene first. I enjoy the good life, I want my creature comforts, a power shower is a must and AC is non negotiable. So, when we checked in for a week at Lady Elliot Island and non of those boxes were ticked, I questioned our decision to spend a week there.

We’d booked it on the recommendation of Ben Southall – he of ‘Best Job in the World’ winner and passionate advocate for the Great Barrier Reef. He knows this region like the back of his hand so his opinion matters.  It took less than 6 hours for me to change my mind.

It was turtle nesting season. A season that starts in November and ends in March/April.  Each night, females swim to the beach and haul themselves to a safe place to dig their nests. It’s a long and laborious process (click here if you want the details).

Now, I’m sure you’ve seen nature programmes showing this journey; I’m sure you’ve all seen footage of the hatchlings scrambling their way to the ocean, running the gauntlet of the gulls, but nothing prepares you for seeing this for real.  A sense of wonderment and respect spreads over you as you witness this event.  The sheer effort on the part of the females and the babies is mind blowing.  You witness nature at its most wonderful and at it’s cruelest (it broke my heart to see one hatching taken by a gull) and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

As we flew away from this magical coral cay, I felt a huge debt of thanks to the creatures and custodians of this ecosystem. We really are caretakers of our world for the next generation. For things to improve, we need education and the guys at LEI are playing their part.

Now the important part….. LEI has no 3G signal.  Wifi is available on just 2 places on the island and is not 100% reliable.  There’s no TV in the rooms (though there is one in the bar).  There is no traditional entertainment.  The entertainment is all around you.  The nesting seabirds, the turtles, the amazing snorkelling.  So, with only the natural world around as a distraction, my body got back into rhythm with the sun…. I woke at sunrise and was tired by early evening. There was no need to set an alarm to wake up and enjoy the sunrise, I was awake anyway, feeling refreshed.

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