If you are the one who would love to watch friendly whales frolicking in the sparkling waters, then visiting Hervey Bay should definitely be on your bucket list. It is a city in Queensland, in the Fraser Coast Region and is referred to as the ‘whale watching capital’ of Australia. Hervey Bay is blessed with around 14 kilometres of sandy stretches, where humpback whales migrate, between April and October. While the whale watching becomes the quintessential attraction, there are many other such things to do, as you will find out below.
Your whole trip will be pointless if you don’t even think of going whale watching when in Hervey Bay. The quintessential tourist attraction, whale watching is available for tourists from July to November. To experience this majestic experience, make sure you visit Hervey Bay during these times, i.e. the whale season, where you can watch the mesmerizing dance of the humpback whales. Tours are taken where the waters are bluer and deeper frequently, ranging from just watching to even enjoying a completely safe and absolutely fun swim alongside the mighty mammals. These tours come in different packages, inclusive of meals and hydrophones – an instrument utilized to hear the whale song. A whale-some experience, don’t you think?
Fraser Island, located just a distance away from the Fraser Coast, is a picturesque place to visit, filled with creeks, freshwater lakes, beautiful rainforests and bush tracks. The island is more-visited, however, for the wonderful Lake McKenzie, which is the largest sand island – also called as K’gari - in the whole world. Reaching Fraser Bay is actually easier than one can think, as there are a number of transport options available for visitors, including sea, land and even air. The place sings of natural beauty; you’d need a full day to explore the entirety of the island, and then some more. Make sure you visit the Maheno Shipwreck – the fascinating story will make you spend even more time on the island.
The Discovery Sphere
The Fraser Coast of the Hervey Bay is filled with many attractions, natural and manmade. One of them is the Fraser Coast Discovery Sphere, located in the Hervey Bay Regional Gallery Building. The place is keen on showcasing the natural and the beautiful diversity the Great Sandy Biosphere is drenched in – and has many interpretive panels and exhibits. The entire place exudes an underwater experience, with many displays capturing the essence of the whales, including a fascinating reproduction of a full-sized whale skeleton. The little gift shop of the place has a variety of unique and locally crafted products and keepsakes, which you can take home as memories. However, most of the people visiting this place are attracted to Nala, a magnificent sculpture of a twelve metres high whale, Hervey Bay’s natural inhabitants.
If you want to get the best photographic memories of Hervey Bay to take back, make sure you pay a visit to the iconic Urangan Pier. It stretches for almost one kilometre into the ocean, surrounded by glittering waters. It completed construction in 1917 and was used to transfer cargo among rail and ships. One can find pods of dolphins and stingrays around the pier in abundance, along with fishes, making it a hotspot for fishing. The first Pier festival was held in 1986, organized to save Urangan Pier by raising funds. This became quite a tradition, transforming into a fishing competition held annually. Walk down the pier and take in the beautiful Hervey Bay – it will be absolutely worth it!
Hervey Bay Botanic Gardens
Located a few minutes away from the Urangan Beach is the natural and mesmerizing Hervey Bay Botanic Gardens. It has a variety of native plants, extracted from the local Wide Bay and Sandy Straits regions, growing out of 6000 old sand dunes. The gardens have the Orchid House, which features more than 15,000 varieties of orchids, including some very rare ones. The house also has a quaint little café, where you can sip on hot tea or coffee while looking over the surrounding rainforest and the lagoon. The gardens are also home to a formal Chinese Garden, complete with Feng Shui windows, bamboo groves, moon gates and bridges. A Japanese Bridge is built over a tranquil lake, from where you can observe the tortoises and ducks floating around. The Gardens can surely cleanse your soul – such is the peace and tranquillity of the place.
Hervey Bay Esplanade
The Esplanade of Hervey Bay is one of the underrated esplanades in the world. It runs from the Urangan Boat Harbour to Gatakers bay, covering the suburbs of Urangan, Torquay, Shelly Beach, Pialba, Point Vernon and Scarness, for around 17 kilometres. The Esplanade is an active place, filled with excellent accommodations and a number of eateries. All of the accommodation options mostly cluster around the south of the Seafront Oval – and besides Peppers and Ramada, there are many luxurious and amazing resorts to stay at. As for the cafés and restaurants, some of the gems include Salt Café, Paolo’s Pizza Bar and Cody’s Beach Shack. Walk along the pedestrian and bike path provided for the people, stop at the amazing eateries and try staying at one of the resorts – the Esplanade is worth it.
The Oaks Resort
The Oaks Resort, promising luxurious experience near the coast, is something of a blessing the Esplanade offers. The beaches, coast-side eateries and bars, as well as boutiques and other local attractions – are just a minutes’ distance from the resort, making it one of the most sought-after resorts in Hervey Bay. The Oaks has a comfy lounge, clean and advanced kitchens and dining areas, separate laundries as well as offers a variety of suites, including one, two and three-bedroom ones and private balconies. The resort also has a lagoon pool, where you can enjoy an exhilarating swim as well as an on-site Day Spa, offering relaxing massages and spas. The Oaks is everything an ideal resort could become – and then some more.
Wetside Water Park Hervey Bay
Just at the intersection of Main Street and The Esplanade is the Wetside Water Park, an exciting, but more importantly, an eco-friendly place, big on providing insightful water infotainment. A large water area is available for the children to frolic around and is absolutely free to use. The entry to the park is free, while the waterslides available in this park are available at a rate. However, those are very affordable – ranging from $5 to $10 at most – with many special ones, including Totside, for under 5s play and the FlipSide BoardRiver wave machine. A restaurant, a coffee shop and a fish & chip shop are located just inside the premises, where people can enjoy delicious food.
Resting on the Buccaneer Drive is Hervey Bay’s one of the famous cafés, Balaena Café. It comfortably looks over the marina and therefore, becomes a beautiful spot to enjoy meals with your loved ones. The people who visit the café are keen to brag how the menu the café offers is extensive and simply top-notch – and once you visit there, you will be assured as well. Some of the much-loved dishes include steak, carol trout, scallops, eggs benedict and the great coffee. What’s more, they also offer room service for the nearby Mantra Hotel – if you are, by any chance, living in that one, you know where to order from! Soft music plays in the background, as you have amazing food over the sparkling waters – can any other experience beat this one? I highly doubt it.
While there are many beaches in Hervey Bay, many of them are secluded, waiting to be explored. One of them is Dundowran Beach, tucked away along the Hervey Bay. While people go to beaches to enjoy sunsets, Dundowran Beach specializes in providing picturesque views of the sunrise. Surprising, isn’t it? But not for long, once you realize that the beach runs along the east coast shoreline. This has made Dundowran Beach one of the favourites among the people. It is quite a flat beach, making the tides come and go swiftly. During full tides, one can easily splash in the water by the beach, without getting their upper body ruined in the water. Frolicking in the shallow water, as the early sunshine warms you up is one of the rare things you’d experience on this paradisiacal beach.
Just at a distance away from Dundowran beach is a ‘place of many ducks’. Don’t believe me? Simply look up for Arkarra Lagoon. The word Arkarra is an Aboriginal term, referring to a place where you can find many ducks. Arkarra lagoon was first believed to be a swamp, in the 19th century, and was a part of the original freehold property, spread across 200 acres. The lagoon has an extensive variety of birds and wildlife, which has attracted a lot of Bird-watchers and wildlife photographers. The lagoon also has an on-site café, offering decent food options. Arkarra Lagoon has, ever since it was discovered, become one of the best picnic spots in Hervey Bay.
Eat at Dan & Steph’s
You might know about Dan & Steph – they are the winners of My Kitchen Rules, Season 4. If you are wondering why they are in this listicle, let me put your confusion at rest. Their restaurant, Eat at Dan & Steph’s, is located in Hervey Bay. After winning the competition in 2013, they started this family-owned business, which has been soaring ever since. The eatery is well-known for low and slow barbecue style of cooking and makes sure they incorporate the freshest produce in their cooking. They poured their passion in this restaurant and created an urban eatery, where people will not only satisfy their stomach but also their souls – and by the looks of it, they are clearly succeeding.
Hervey Bay Boat Club
Hervey Bay Boat Club is more than just a club – it is a perfect place where hospitality and tourism facilities come together to form an ultimate tourist experience. It is located in Hervey Bay, overlooking the Great Sandy Straits and the Urangan Marina. The club provides many options, including Harbourview Dining, which is a la carte dining, some awesome Coffee shop bars along with free live entertainment and a fine selection of latest poker machines. The MV Amaroo is the club’s prized possession, which is a 90-passenger catamaran running all year round and taking people to whale watching in winter. It is no wonder that people are seen returning to the boat club frequently – it is simply amazing!
Torquay Beach & Reef
One of the perfect beaches Hervey Bay offers is Torquay beach, one of the best and popular surfing spots in Australia. Families are seen hanging out on this beach frequently, as it has a number of lush grassed areas for picnics and BBQs, along with a sheltered bay, known for its calm waters, perfect for swimming. There is also an exposed reef break, known as the Torquay Reef, which is ideal for reliable surfing. Make sure, however, that you visit during Winter, as the beach offers clean and consistent waves for the people. Surfing over these flowing waters, as the wind tousles your hair is the best feeling ever – and something you can experience on Torquay Beach.
While the Cooper Boardwalk is a fairly recent addition to Hervey Bay’s top attractions, it is nevertheless a beautiful one. It came into existence in 2015 and starts from Neilson Park in Torquay and runs almost parallel to the beach, where you can enjoy moments of quiet contemplation. The boardwalk honours the memory of Cooper Christensen, a 6-year-old local who, unfortunately, lost his life to brain cancer. Just at the start of the Boardwalk, opposite to Neilsons Park, is an amazing restaurant, Maddigans. You can, perhaps, enjoy the town’s best fish and chips before visiting the boardwalk. The seats under the shaded trees are cosy and comfortable and so is the peace of the place.
There are many other attractions in Hervey Bay, all of which are overshadowed by the main one. Right from award-winning cafés to pleasantly unusual beaches, the place has it all. Don’t be entirely consumed by the whales in this ‘whale capital’ – the entire Hervey Bay, for that matter, is equally beautiful and fascinating.