There's a certain Hervey Bay vibe that sets a tone to our holidays. Slow, still, relaxed. This has to be a combo of the heat and of the sparse, almost barren environs. These aspects in themselves make Hervey Bay very beautiful - its wide, pressing skies and miles of cane fields, the pineapple plantations, ant mounds, palms and eucalypts... Neither Zan nor I are well-travelled, so perhaps we're particularly sensitive to these differences. Regardless, I always feel as though we're very far from our wild, green, Northland home.
Compared to other parts of QLD, there's not an absolute abundance of holiday activities in Hervey Bay, big ticket attractions aside. There are an abundance of beaches and pretty places to stop and visit. We try and cover some new ground with each visit, and I think we are narrowing down our favourite spots now. In no particular order, these are our favourite Hervey Bay activities...
1. Whale watching. So obvious, but also, so cool! We've only done this once, but I know we'll go again. There are plenty of boats to choose from and we would likely go with the MV Whalesong next time (based on reviews, environmental impact, price). Check the whale season before booking your trip to HB, because this is definitely a bucket list activity. For more on our whale watching experience, read this post.
2. Bike or walk along the esplanade. We totally intended to hire some of these beach safari bikes, this trip, but we couldn't drag the kids away from the water park... The waterfront is really nice to cruise along, with plenty of picnic spots, cafes and shops along the way. Hervey Bay also has a ton of playgrounds to stop in on, and some of them are legit cool. Wander down the waterfront until you find the one with a train!
3. Wet Side Water Park. This was a new discovery for us and we are obsessed. It's free, there's a cafe and there's plenty of shade. Totally perfect for a hot Queensland day. I have a whole separate post lined up because this is a definite must if you're traveling to Hervey Bay with kids.
4. We always spend a portion of our visit driving through back roads, wild kangaroo spotting. This might be my favourite activity of all, both the sightings (especially when they have joeys, awwww!), and the creepy/awesome back roads that you can just imagine are crawling with crocodiles (though actually aren't). The best place we've discovered is around Toogoom Beach, but do find a local to ask, they'll know where the mobs are hanging (sounds badass).
5. The Urangan Pier. If you're really lucky, you'll spot some awesome sea creatures from the side of the pier (turtles, sharks, stingrays etc), and if not you'll at least get some pretty views of Hervey Bay and the water. This pier has historical significance, and is one of the longest in Aus, so def worth a visit.
6. Find local, fresh pineapples! There's this one stand between my MIL's house and Hervey Bay itself, that sells delicious pineapples even when the season has barely begun. This holiday definitely had a pineapple theme (we visited the Big Pineapple in Sunshine Coast - unexpected highlight), complete with a gigantic pile of delicious pineapples to make our way through.
7. Visit World Heritage listed, Fraser Island. Kind of a no-brainer really. Fraser Island is pretty much the reason most people travel to Hervey Bay. I've only been there once, but it was certainly beautiful and definitely a place I'd love to visit again. This snap was taken from our whale boat, and who knows, maybe that little black dot on the beach is a wild dingo!
8. There are heaps of beaches to explore around Hervey Bay, including the classic long strips of white sand, cerulean seas and pelican friends. If you leave the town centre there are some other, moodier beaches too. Our favourite is Toogoom Beach (more pics here), for its kangeroo and eagle spotting, quirky houses and cute cafe.
9. Visit Aquavue or Enzos, two fun beachside cafes. I think this is the best idea for a cafe and I honestly question why we don't have thousands of these in NZ. Do we have any? I need to find them, STAT. It's like picnicking, but someone else is doing all the work for you, best! If you pick a table close to the beach, you can watch the kids play while you sip your flat white. #perf
10. Vic Hislop's Shark Show. I can't not include the Shark place which we drive past, every trip. I've personally never been, but Zan's visited and loved it. It looks creepy, kitschy cool, and the kids are amped to visit.
Outside of Hervey Bay are some cute towns, well worth visiting. We've visited Bundaberg and it's definitely cool passing all those cane fields, watching trainloads of cane travel past, and finally drop in at the museum for the final part of the production journey. Having just discovered this site, we've re-added Bundy to our itinerary for next trip.
Do stop in Childers as you pass through, in particular the Childers Art Space, and the Palace Backpackers Memorial.
Maryborough is another favourite, it kinda feels like the town that time forgot, especially if you make it to their market day. Some seriously weird stalls! The houses are really beautiful and it has a sleepy kind of beauty that makes for a relaxing visit. Plus, Mary Poppins was first imagined there! That's a pretty cool claim to fame! We've never visited at the right time for the mini steam train but #goals. Check out our last visit to Maryborough in this post.
If you've been to Hervey Bay and have some suggestions that haven't been included here, I'd love to hear them! We're always looking for new places to visit while we're there. Our visits are generally family-oriented, lots of picnicking with great-grandma and various other relatives, but having fun adventures to add to our itinerary definitely makes us more amped about future visits.