Considering Hervey Bay is only a short 30 minute plane flight or 4 hour drive up the road from where I live on the Gold Coast and so many people talk about this region, I can’t believe I have never been there before. It’s not for any reason in particular, but I guess it was just never on my bucket list.
When Tourism and Events Queensland contacted me and asked me to join a trip there however, as always, I was keen to explore somewhere new. Having now been fortunate enough to have two trips to this region, all I can say is “WOW” this is a must do on any traveller’s bucket list. It is such a beautiful part of Queensland; I am already planning another visit.
One thing I really like about Hervey Bay is the laid back, quaint seaside village vibe that the area has. It’s not overly commercial, high rise or busy. The streets are pretty much deserted and the beaches pristine. And don’t get me started on the Restaurants. So surprisingly spectacular. I had the opportunity to experience breakfast, lunch and dinner somewhere different every day. I know, so much food right – and a “foodie” is the last ever word I would use to describe myself. I would much rather be out exploring than sitting in the one spot eating, but eat we did and what a treat. From fine dining restaurants to picnics on 75 mile beach, we ate our way around the Fraser Coast!
Some of my favorite places that I would suggest you try if ever in the region are:-
Coast Restaurant. This has a really busy, fun vibe and is known for it “share” style menu. Great food and flavors.
Eat at Dan & Stephs – winners of the 2013 My Kitchen Rules competition and these guys have really created a winner. The breakfast is amazing. Such a great variety of food, including a Paleo option which was divine (even though I am not Paleo myself) and their donuts are worth the trip alone. Made in a bagel and filled with all sorts of treats like chocolate ganache, these are definitely not for anyone watching their calorie or sugar intake.
“The Vineyard”. I actually pictured in my head a restaurant nestled in a wine region, but was still pleasantly surprised to find it on the Esplanade in Hervey Bay, enjoying great views across the water with friendly service and the freshest seafood served in interesting ways. Definitely give it a try if you’re a seafood lover, I promise you won’t be disappointed.
What to do in the Fraser Coast region was also a bit of a pleasant surprise for me. I actually don’t know what I was expecting, but there is so so much to do, or just sit by the pool or along the foreshore at the beach if you are feeling like relaxing.
A few of the things I would highly recommend are obviously a trip over to Fraser Island. But the Island is actually massive, and being a sand island, it’s not quick to get around, spanning 1,840 km2 it’s huge. So I would suggest taking a small plane over from Hervey Bay like we did. With Air Fraser it was a short 30 minute flight that landed us on the eastern beach on the other side of the island near the small village of Eurong. Was actually pretty cool getting an aerial perspective of the place and landing on sand. It also cut out a lot of travel time.
From there, you can utilize one of the many tour operators to show you around. I would usually do this on my first visit to a new place to get my bearings and work out exactly what it is I liked and then second time around, take over a car myself and do a longer tour on my own.
There are plenty of tour operators from busses to more personalized custom guided tours. We took a 4 wheel drive tour with Fraser Experience Tours (they also offer Hummer tours which would be pretty cool). They were great because as the day evolved, we were able to change the itinerary slightly to suit our needs. They also showed us to areas that are lesser known and easier for them to get into.
My favorite spot was obviously Lake Mackenzie. This place is insane. Pristine fresh water that is filtered up through the sand in the middle of the island. It is some of the clearest water I have ever seen. The sand was snow white, I would honestly say it was as good as Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsundays. Best place for a swim.
The other place I was keen to visit, having seen many pictures, was the shipwreck of the SS Maheno. Grounded in 1935 during a cyclone, it was still surprisingly intact and large. Great spot to get some snaps and learn a bit of history of the area. Our guide David was a constant wealth of knowledge.
Another great way to see some of the Fraser Coast and Island is via jet ski. From the main Esplanade in Hervey Bay, you can take a guided Jet ski tour with Aquavue Café Watersports (and just quietly they have a café that makes great coffee). We took a trip to Pelican Bank en-route to Fraser Island. The photographer in me had to stop off for some pics of this tiny, deserted island except for the hundreds of pelicans and birds, and the tourist in me had to have a swim in the crystal blue waters. Larry and Cody from Aquavue again tailored the tour to our specific needs and provided great fun letting us jet ski across the Great Sandy Straight, giving a crash course lesson to those who didn’t have a license.
The only other place that I would say is a definite must visit in the area is Point Vernon. It’s a short 10 minute drive north west of Urangan Pier and gives you one of the best locations to watch sunset over the sand ripples at low tide. It’s some of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen.
Clearly, the Fraser Coast has so much more to offer, but if you are time poor and just wanting to see the best, these are my choices. Saying that, my next visit I am planning more time and I would also suggest splitting time staying on both Fraser Island and Urangan if possible. Would love to do a sunrise on the Eastern Beach at the shipwreck and spend a whole day at Lake Mackenzie and there are some great hikes that you can do from 30 minute duration to all day. Whatever your desire, if you love untouched, natural settings, this area is just gorgeous and definitely worth a visit. For more information, I would contact the Fraser Coast Information Centre on 1800 811728 or check out their website at www.visitfrasercoast.com
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