Holidaying Hervey Bay, Australia Day Weekend, Queensland. Australia
We headed to our favourite sea-side holiday spot for Australia Day Long Weekend, Hervey Bay. Hervey Bay and Fraser Island are two gems in Queensland’s crown. You can take the scenic route by taking the Bruce Highway north, then onto Glass House Mountains Road via the Glass House Mountains. You’ll then pass Australia Zoo, home to a wide range of Australian and International Wildlife. Continue and close to Landsborough is Ewen Maddock Dam with walking trails and picnic spots, as well as the rustic villages of Maleny, Montville and Mapleton. You can either then take the inland route along the Bruce Highway or the coastal route via David Low Way. The inland route takes you past Eumundi, famous for its Wednesday and Saturday markets as well as galleries, pubs and restaurants. The Sunshine Coast route takes you through Mooloolaba and a string of beaches, including Coolum Beach, Castaways Beach and Sunshine Beach. At Noosa, indulge in some fine dining or retail therapy. Then your options are the Cooroy-Noosa Rd out of Noosa, returning to the Bruce Highway just past Cooroy. In Gympie, check out the relics from the gold rush days, including the Valley Rattler steam train. After Gympie, if you’ve got time for a detour, there’s a road back to the coast at Rainbow Beach for the colourful sand cliffs, spectacular Wolf Rock for divers, while Tin Can Bay offers the chance to feed dolphins by hand off the boat ramp. Continue north via Cooloola Coast Rd to the grand old town of Maryborough, then to Hervey Bay. Whale watching is the name of the game here from August to October with sightings guaranteed.
We hit Hervey Bay around 10am and followed the Esplanade,also known as Charlton Esplanade, which runs for around 17km along the beach front from beyond the Urangan Boat Harbour in the south-east to Gatakers Bay in the north-west and along the way it runs through the ‘suburbs’ of Urangan, Shelly Beach, Torquay, Scarness, Pialba and Point Vernon.
The seemingly quiet Fraser Coast offer more than meets the eye. This picturesque destination is becoming increasingly popular amongst tourists and travelers for its whale encounters, island tours, and water activities, but on the shore there are lots to be experienced and enjoyed too. The Fraser Coast is home to lots of markets happening regularly throughout the year, and it’s a great way to see the local culture and leave with a bargain. We stumbled across the Torquay Beach Markets, which are held on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays each month from 7am to 1pm, offering a wide variety of stalls to sift through. The beachfront setting is unique and gives you the chance to spend the rest of the day swimming. We hoped out the car to stretch our legs and have a quick look and the stalls and Kim checked out some of the boutiques opposite the markets.
Further down the esplanade was the iconic Urangan Pier Park Community Markets, which are located adjacent to the Urangan Pier. The markets are run by a dedicated group of volunteers & all the profits go to supporting local charities, schools, associations & individual causes. Another Pet Friendly market, we spent some time checking out the stores and have a light lunch.
From the markets we checked into our accommodation at Quarterdecks Retreat, which was a five-acre oasis located within the Boat Harbour precinct of Hervey Bay and close to all the attractions and activities of the area, including Fraser Island. Contemporary and comfortable, the Best Western Plus Quarterdecks Retreat has been designed with luxury appointments and the highest quality of service. Guests are spoiled in the light and spacious villas with quality king size beds, feather filled pillows, bathrobes, high-speed broadband internet and designer kitchens. A select number of the villas are also pet friendly. The Staff are on hand to help arrange your Hervey Bay adventures, visit Fraser Island, Lady Elliot Island, Dolphin tour and probably the best Whale Watching in the world.
Before getting everything out of the Ute, Kim was changed and heading to the Pool, spa and sauna. Our apartment was located beside the pool, so I had a couple of cold ones on the back deck while Shari explored the yard.
Late afternoon we headed back to the Urangan Pier, which is located in the park at the corner of Charlton Esplanade and Pier Street, Urangan. The Pier is one of Hervey Bay’s famous icons and with a length that extends over a kilometre there are plenty of places that give you a good opportunity to shoot the sunset. I took a stroll along the pier, while Kim took Shari down the beach. Our dog loves nothing more than tearing along the sand flats at low tide, splashing in the leftover pools and rolling in sand. Without fail, this results in a happy and exhausted puppy. It’s also an excellent opportunity for her to socialise in a neutral area. With the sun setting over the horizon, we headed back to the resort and called it a day.
Next day we were up early for breakfast at Bayaroma Café, which is one of Hervey Bay’s best cafes. It is a charming cafe ideally located on the Hervey Bay Esplanade in beautiful Torquay opposite the best swimming spot. We sat and enjoyed watching the world go by in the alfresco dining area with a nice sea breeze. Friendly staff and great service are popular among locals & tourists alike. I shared a Big Breakfast with Shari, while Kim had the new Maqui Bowl, full of the healthy super food. They also stock a range of beautiful Pottery Cups as an alternative for you to enjoy your hot coffee or drink in.
We then headed to the south side of the boat harbor, where there is the 500 m long southern Urangan Beach. The beach is bordered in the north by the southern harbour wall and to the south by the start of the strait mangroves, at the small Moolyyir Creek mouth. The beach faces south-east into the strait and receives only low wind waves. The stinger-free waters are safe for swimming all year round, with an average water temperature between 21 and 26 degrees. There were community BBQs in the park and small pockets of people enjoying Australia Day splashing in the water, jet skiing, paddle boarding and kayaking. After a few hours we headed back to the resort, got changed and headed down the road to The Great Sandy Straits Marina located on the Northern end of Urangan harbor for a light lunch at Cafe Balaena. No matter what time you choose to visit Cafe Balaena you will always find the atmosphere to be relaxed and easy going. While waiting for lunch Kim checked out the Harbour Gift Gallery.
The Gift Gallery offers affordable exhibition space for the Artisans of the Fraser Coast Region. Their Gallery is an exciting outlet for quality individually handcrafted items and Artwork. Offer a place where you will be sure to find a unique gift for your friends or a functional piece for your home. They also have locally produced Souvenirs of Hervey Bay to suit overseas tourist and gift-giving.
We decided to then head back to Maryborough, because we accidentally spotted a hidden gem on our travels passing through, The Happy Days Cafe. Decked out in 1950s memorabilia with large black and white vinyl floor squares, numerous photographs of famous movie stars and singers with LPs adorning the walls and a cute jukebox in the one corner of the large dining area, it gives the customers the feeling they have stepped back in time to the iconic ‘The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang’. The centerpiece of The Diner is affectionately called “Charlotte” the Chevy. “Charlotte” is a real, 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air car which has been beautifully restored and transformed into a unique booth seat.
The Diner has a large 1950’s American Style Menu featuring Burgers, Hot Dogs and BIG Breakfasts.
Kim, rather than wait around for the Easter Bunny to deliver her chocolate fix this year, she went on the offensive and sought out a chocolate goodness. It starts with a Happy Days chocolate brownie, and then they add a cinnamon sugared churro, whipped cream, chocolate topping, an Oreo cookie, Corinthian wafer sticks, tiny teddies, chocolate ganache, a dusting of chocolate powder and blitzed chocolate pieces, all on top of an ice cold milkshake. Hop to it and give one of these chocolate Brownie FreakShakes treats a try. We dropped back to the Resort for a swim and Barbie Dinner.
Hervey Bay has a beautiful walking, cycling trail that traverse the entire length of the shoreline between Gatakers Bay on Point Vernon to Urangan Boat Harbour, some 14 km in total. Much of the track is sheltered with numerous amenities and facilities to enjoy along the way. The beach and the alluring waters of Hervey Bay are enticing and accessible from the many access points. We woke early for a morning walk from the resort to the Boat Harbour and back by the beach for an early sunrise.
Ute packed, weekend over, we dropped past Cody’s Coffee Shack, which is a great small cafe on the Esplanade. Take a skip back in time to the 60’s. You can’t miss it, just look for the old VW blue van, and great for people watching. The ambience and friendly staff add to the experience. A quirky favourite spot with some local history – timber from Torquay boat ramp used as flooring – materials from Maryborough railway have a new use as a bar-styled table. The coffee came in handy when we hit the carpark on the Bruce Highway heading home to Brisbane.
Our Favourite 4 Things To Do In Hervey Bay
- STROLL THE ESPLANADE
Hervey Bay is blessed with kilometres and kilometres of parkland, bike paths and sandy shores overlooking the still waters of the bay. Rent bikes and take in the whole length of the 14km long pathway from Urangan to Gatakers Bay, or break it up into smaller sections and discover piers, views, parks and playgrounds along the way.
- SPLISH SPLASH AT WETSIDE WATER PARK
Your kids will flip when they see this water park. And your wallet will do cartwheels too since it’s Free. Designed to be “infotainment” to educate visitors on water sustainability in a fun environment; between the splash park and boardwalks you’ll find hundreds of messages about water safety, accessibility, and reliability. While this info might be a little over the kids’ heads, parents can still hope for a bit of osmosis learning.
- VISIT FRASER ISLAND
Fraser Island, just a 45-minute ferry ride from Hervey Bay, is one of five World Heritage-listed natural playgrounds in Queensland. For families who like the great outdoors, pack your camping gear and head off the grid for some 4×4-ing and epic stargazing. For those looking for a more civilised stay, Kingfisher Bay Resort has all the modern conveniences for a family including two full-service restaurants, a resort-style pool and tours to get you out and about on the island. No matter your accommodation style, Fraser Island has your holiday activity schedule sorted. Take a 4×4 drive through the rainforest, snap the rusty Maheno shipwreck, tube down freshwater Eli Creek, visit Lake McKenzie, spot dingos, go fishing, or hike along the Fraser Island Great Walk. This is just the beginning folks, there are heaps of other free things to do on the island that your kids will love.
- SEE UNDER THE SEA
Observe the world under the waves at the all-natural Reefworld Aquarium, located on the foreshore of Hervey Bay, near the Urangan Pier. Complete with sharks, green sea turtles, large reef fish, crabs and experiences like the hands-on touch tank and participatory marine life feedings throughout the day, this aquarium will leave your kids happy as clams.
Bayaroma Café – 428 Esplanade, Torquay, Hervey Bay, Queensland 4655, Australia
Cody’s Coffee Shack – 400 Charlton Esplanade, Torquay, Hervey Bay, Queensland 4655, Australia
Happy Days Diner – 1/92 Ferry St, Maryborough QLD 4650
Best Western Plus Quarterdecks Retreat 80 Moolyyir St, Urangan QLD 4655