Hervey Bay is the whale watching capital of Australia and the springboard to the world's largest sand island at Fraser Island. The town is waking from its slumber, adding a cool café culture, beachfront dining and even a new brewery or two. It's an easy 3.5 hours' drive north of Brisbane.
Day 1: Swing into the sway of the bay
Locals have a soft spot for their yawning Esplanade which stretches some 17km along this beautiful bay. Make like a Fraser Coaster and join the throngs taking a leisurely morning walk along this pretty patch which boasts 12 parks, 10 barbecue areas, and some cool beachfront cafes. Enjoy a cuppa at the aptly-named Aquavue before hiring water equipment such as kayaks, stand-up paddle boards or a bike from their adjacent activity centre.
Hervey Bay QLD, Australia
Relax by one of two pools at your accommodation in the absolute waterfront BreakFree Great Sandy Straits Hervey Bay. There’s a lagoon pool for lazing or a lap pool overlooking the water if you are feeling more active.
BreakFree Great Sandy Straits Hervey Bay
BreakFree Great Sandy Straits Hervey Bay, Buc...
Perched on the water’s edge like a pelican, Cafe Balaena is an ideal spot for breakfast, lunch or dinner - try the barra burger - and has an impressive cake display too.
Cafe Balaena, Hervey Bay, Buccaneer Drive, Ur...
Day 2: Embrace Indigenous culture
For a tour of the bay itself with a twist, join the Indigenous operators at Hervey Bay Eco Marine Tours. There’s a swag of tours from which to choose including Turtle Discovery; Djinang Walking Tour; and Whale Watching at this family-run business which lets you explore nature through the lens of the Butchulla people of the region.
Hervey Bay Eco Marine Tours
Hervey Bay Eco Marine Tours, Buccaneer Drive,...
Take a wander through the shops at the Urangan Boat Harbour. For some cool souvenirs – t-shirts, water bottles, jewellery - with a conscience, shop at the Pacific Whale Foundation Australia where all proceeds support whale research, education and conservation.
Pacific Whale Foundation Australia
Pacific Whale Foundation Australia, Buccaneer...
It’s hard to beat the Hervey Bay Boat Club with its deck overlooking the Great Sandy Straits, for a hearty meal such as seafood, pizzas and steaks.
Hervey Bay Boat Club
Hervey Bay Boat Club, Buccaneer Drive, Uranga...
Day 3: Shop and splash
Hervey Bay is a market shopper’s paradise with five markets staged at various stages of the week and month. Check out the Farmers Market every Wednesday at Pier Park Urangan, which has a host of arts and crafts as well as local produce. A lovely way to spend the morning is walking along the shopping side of the Esplanade, pausing at the plethora of homeware boutiques here. Check out The Ibis Next Door and Pandanus Homeware and Gifts.
Pier Park, Esplanade, Urangan QLD, Australia
For some splashy family fun, without the cost, head to WetSide Water Park along the Esplanade for its waterslides, water play area, TotSide for under 5s, FlipSide Board Rider, and Fountain Light Show on Saturday nights.
Wetside Water Park
Wetside Water Park, Esplanade, Pialba QLD, Au...
The queue is always long at Maddigan’s Seafood, 401 Esplanade, Torquay, but locals swear it’s the best fish and chips in town.
Maddigan's Seafood, Esplanade, Torquay QLD, A...
Day 4: Flock to Fraser
It would be remiss to visit Hervey Bay and not head over to the World-Heritage listed Fraser Island. Drive to nearby River Heads and catch the Fraser Island Ferry. There’s plenty to do on island, best explored with a 4WD, from swimming in Lake McKenzie and The Champagne Pools, floating down Eli Creek, or taking a splash in Lake Wabby. A drive along Seventy-Five Mile Beach will take you past the coloured sands of The Pinnacles and The SS Maheno shipwreck. Indian Head also offers spectacular views.
Lake Mckenzie (Boorangoora)
Lake Mckenzie (Boorangoora), Fraser Island QL...
Plonked like an umbrella in the sand, Enzos On The Beach is where the cool crowd go for great food and superb views. There’s even a “mini mes” menus for under 12s.
Enzo's on the Beach
Enzo's on the Beach, Hervey Bay, Esplanade, S...
Day 5: Wine, dine and soak up beach time
One of the newest additions to Hervey Bay restaurants, Cauldron Brewing serves beer brewed inhouse. For some more on-tap craft beer, burgers and freshly roasted coffee under the one roof, The Junction On Truro is a cool place in which to explore your inner hipster. The kids will love Santini Pizza e Cucina and its adjacent gelateria Pasticceria Caffe.
The Junction on Truro
The Junction on Truro, Bideford Street, Torqu...
In between bites, today’s the day to rack up some serious beach time. Hervey Bay’s beaches are calm and protected, perfect for kids of all ages. Head to Torquay (lifeguards on duty), Urangan (great for collecting shells) or Scarness beaches. Older kids craving a little surf will enjoy the beaches at Point Vernon.
Round off the day with a cheeky drop at 19XO Wine & Cocktail Bar at 414B, the Esplanade.
19XO Wine & Cocktail
19XO Wine & Cocktail, Esplanade, Torquay QLD,...
Day 6: Slip on a snorkel or scooter
The Hervey Bay Dive Centre is jam-packed with adventure for the entire family. Whether it’s a snorkel or underwater scooter tour, or taking a deep dive of the local wrecks, you won’t be bored here.
Hervey Bay Dive Centre
Hervey Bay Dive Centre, Dive Office Boat Club...
Built in 1913, the iconic Urangan Pier was once 1107 metres long but was repaired and reduced in the late 90s to 868 metres. Join the locals for a spot of fishing, or simply wander this timber pier, one of the longest in Queensland.
Urangan Pier, Great Sandy Strait QLD, Austral...
For a great breakfast or lunch spot overlooking the pier, and serving Hervey Bay’s famous scallops, head to Salt Cafe Urangan.
Salt Cafe Urangan
Salt Cafe Urangan, Esplanade, Urangan QLD, Au...
Day 7: Explore Point Vernon or go whale watching
Pack a picnic and drive to Point Vernon renowned as Queensland’s largest rocky promontory on the coast between Noosa and Bundaberg. There’s plenty of swimming opportunities at Gatakers Bay and you can read all about the region’s shorebirds, sand dunes and vegetation in the park at The Gables. Keep an eye out for marine life here too.
Point Vernon QLD, Australia
Late afternoon, just as the sun is about to set, look to the sky. Here you’ll see the nightly migration of thousands of bats and fruit flies as they make their way from the mainland back to Fraser Island.
Fraser Island, QLD, Australia
End your adventure on a high note with a special set menu at Odyssey Bistro which serves produce locally-sourced between the Sunshine Coast and Bundaberg.