Managing hawksbill turtle populations for use and conservation requires (i) adequate scientific understanding of their population status and dynamics and (ii) consideration of the public’s attitudes to this species. This study employs experimental surveys to assess the Australian public’s attitudes towards the hawksbill turtle, their knowledge of it, their views about its sustainable commercial harvesting, and their support and financial contribution for the species’ conservation. Contingent valuation reveals that the Australian public’s willingness to contribute to the conservation of the hawksbill turtle is high even in comparison to threatened Australian bird and mammal fauna. Most of this stated contribution is based on the intrinsic (non-use) value associated with the hawksbill turtle. It seems that the Australian public will only accept its harvesting if the sustainability of this is assured and its population is more secure. The CITES categorisation of the hawksbill as an Appendix I species hampers the development of techniques for its sustainable use.