Cooking classes by the sea, turtle encounters and tranquil beaches are waiting for you in Bundaberg.

When you think of Bundaberg you probably picture a factory that produces rum as fast as Willy Wonker churns out chocolate, and you wouldn’t be wrong.

Touring the Bundaberg Rum Distillery is a fun-filled whirl that starts in a molasses well and ends with tasting session where you can sample the latest brews (you can’t go past the Chocolate Coffee Liquor), but there’s just so much more to see and do in the Bundaberg region.

If you’re partial to delicious food (and aren’t we all?) then Bundaberg is a tasty mecca of goodies just waiting to be sampled. The area is teaming with fresh local produce that’s ripe for the picking and you can learn how to whip it up into a feast while gazing out at the ocean with the salt air on your skin.

Food For Fork offer ocean-side classes where you can take part in a cooking lesson with internationally accomplished chef Dion Taylor,then enjoy the meal afterwards with a glass of wine while wiggling your toes in the sand.

If the sun is shining you can head just down the road to Amandine Lavender Gift Shop and Farm, where you can pick the lavender that grows from a patch of rich volcanic red earth, browse through the small cottage gift shop and learn how to grow your own lavender at home.

If you don’t picture Bundaberg as a beach getaway, you might want to cast your eye towards the natural beauty that is Bargara Beach. A cosy ocean-side community that overlooks the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef. Unlike other Queensland locations, its one place where you won’t have to fight for a spot on the sand or do battle for a carpark.

The waves are gentle and the esplanade is dotted with places to stay and venues offering delicious treats. Kacy’s Bargara Beach Motel offers ocean front views and once you’ve checked in you can pick up a bike from Bargara Vintage Bicycle Hire cruise sown the beach front bike paths.

One of the most special things about the Bundaberg region is that it supports the largest concentration of nesting marine turtles on the Eastern Australian mainland and is one of the two largest Logerhead turtle rookeries in the South Pacific Ocean. You can take part in one of the nightly turtle encounter tours led by the rangers from Mon Repos Turtle Centre, with tours running until the end of March.

Nature is all a game of luck, so while the rangers can’t guarantee that every group will see some action, chances are that you’ll see a mother turtle laying her eggs on the beach or witness a batch of baby turtles breaking free from their nest and eagerly shuffling down the beach and into the ocean.

Adult tickets are $11.25 per person, ensure you book ahead to avoid disappointment at www.bundabergregion.org or www.bundabergregion.org/discover-the-turtles .