Hervey Bay is in the heart of the Fraser Coast (290km north from Brisbane). For the ones that might not know it, Hervey Bay is one of the best places in Australia for whale watching. Actually, Hervey Bay calls itself the Whale Watching capital of the world. In spite of it, Hervey Bay could be one of those forgotten holiday destinations given
its proximity to the World Heritage listed Fraser Island and due to the fact that the Whale season is in winter.
We chose Hervey Bay because it is less crowded and more affordable than other popular places of the Sunshine Coast. With three kids under 5, we needed a laid-back and a hassle-free holiday. And this is exactly what we got, despite being peak summer season. Hervey Bay not only stands out for its natural wonders but also for its relaxed pace and friendly people.
Hervey Bay is a super family friendly destination. It has lots to offer. We relaxed, we did some excursions, we did things that the kids loved and the most important, my husband and I had our own time to wind down.
Hervey Bay with Kids- Some practical Information
From Brisbane, Hervey Bay is a three and half hours drive.
Qantas Link operates direct daily flights from Brisbane to the Fraser Coast, while Virgin Airlines has daily flights from Sydney. Another option is to fly to the Sunshine Coast Airport, rent a car and drive two hours and a half north. Hervey Bay is also well connected by bus or train. Queensland Rail operates from Brisbane, Rockhampton and Cairns to Maryborough Train Station. From the station to Hervey Bay, there is a shuttle bus service.
Where to stay
We stayed in Oceans Resort and Spa Hervey Bay. With an excellent location, only a five-minute walk to the famous Urangan Pier, Oceans Resort ticked all the boxes. It has very good reviews. Google it!
Oceans Resort and Spa Hervey Bay
Address: 569/571 Charlton Esplanade, Urangan QLD 4655
Phone: (07) 4194 9700
Web page: www.oceansherveybay.com.au
I can honestly say that it didn’t disappoint us. It was good value for all these reasons:
All that we needed
A spacious apartment with ocean views, large rooms, good separation between our room and the children’s one, spa-bath, free-Wi-Fi, kid’s pool with water spouts and sand! As you can imagine, the kid’s pool was so good that my daughters could have stayed all day there. It was perfect for their age.
The resort also has two good-size lagoon pools, a fitness club, sauna and spa/beautician. And of course, it offers the services of a four-star resort such as undercover car park, in room service, daily housekeeping and babysitting.
Our routine consisted of having breakfast in the apartment to avoid rushing in the morning; pool time; lunch, relax and pool time again; bath time and chill out time watching cartoons (the children’s room had its own flat TV!); take away or dinner downstairs at the kid friendly Bayswater Bistro & Bar, and night time.
Close by to the resort, there is a family-friendly pizzeria, Viva Italia! That serves delicious pizzas and homemade tiramisu as well as homemade ice cream.
Bayswater Bistro & Bar
Address: 569/571 Esplanade, Urangan QLD 4655
Phone: (07) 4194 6444
Web page: www.thebayswater.com.au/home
Address: 566 Charlton Esplanade, Urangan QLD 4655
Phone: (07) 4125 2066
Web page: www.vivaitaliarestaurant.com
As everything was at our doorstep, it was easy to get organised with hubby in order to have this precious time that every parent with a young family craves for it.
Besides the spa, sauna and gym, how good it felt to be able to swim a couple of laps and to have a cup of coffee at Salt Café (that is located in the same resort complex). The café, as well as Bayswater Bistro & Bar, has also one of the best views of Hervey Bay!!!
Address: 569 Charlton Esplanade, Urangan QLD 4655
Phone: 07 4124 9722
Web page: hwww.thebayswater.com.au/home
Finally, going for a walk to the pier, it was basically rejuvenating. The saltiness of the breeze, those stunning sea views and Fraser Island…Look at these photos! I hope that they are already transporting you to Hervey Bay…
Other places to stay
The good news about Hervey Bay is that there is a good offer of accommodation that can suit all budgets and styles.
The area of the Marina (Urangan Boat Harbour) has world-class resorts such as Akama Resort, Ramada Hervey Bay, Breakfree Sandy Straits and Mantra Hervey Bay.
Other family-friendly accommodation that has very good ratings on TripAdvisor includes, Grange Resort, Main Street Motel, Emeraldene Inn & Eco-Lodge, Shelly Bay Resort, Kondari Resort, Pialba Motel, Hervey Bay Motel, Boat Harbour Resort, Sunseeker Motel and Delfinos Bay Resort. The online magazine “Holidays with Kids” recommends the caravan park Happy Wanderer Village Hervey Bay (known as Ingenia Holidays Hervey Bay, too). Also, there is a caravan park of the reputable chain Big4 Holidays Parks, the Big4 Point Vernon Holiday Park.
Things to do in Hervey Bay
There are so many things to do in Hervey Bay that I am sure that I will miss something. We saw a fair a bit, despite we felt lazy some days and so we just took it easy.
Where to start? A good way to start is to go to Fraser Coast Discovery Sphere. It provides the opportunity to discover the Fraser Coast Region and so, to understand why.
The Great Sandy Region was awarded Biosphere Reserve status by UNESCO. Australia, in particular, is a lucky country. Did you know that we have 14 biosphere reserves? If you want to know which ones, click on here http://www.unesco.org/new/en/natural-sciences/environment/ecological-sciences/biosphere-reserves/asia-and-the-pacific/
Fraser Coast Discovery Sphere
Address: 166 Old Maryborough Road, Pialba 4655 QLD
Phone: (07) 4197 4206
Discover Urangan Pier and the Urangan Pier Community Markets
Urangan Pier is one of the longest of Australia. Originally, it was one km long. Nowadays, it is a bit shorter. It was built between 1913-1917 to help with the exports of sugar, timber and coal. From the pier, you can enjoy magnificent views of Hervey Bay, Fraser Island and the Great Sandy Strait.
Urangan Pier is an excellent spot for fishing, too. Whatever fishing is your hobby or not, little ones will love seeing the fish and, they might even spot some dolphins.
Also, opposite to Urangan Pier, every Saturday from 7am to 1pm, you can find the Urangan Pier Park Community Markets. These markets are non-profit, so when you buy something there, you are supporting the Fraser Coast Community.
If you love markets, then check this link where you can find all the markets of the Fraser Coast: www.ourfrasercoast.com.au/fraser-coast-markets-guide
Go to the Reef World Aquarium + let your kids play at Point Dayman Park
The Reef World Aquarium on the beach is one of those places that you cannot miss, if you have a young family. It is very unique! It is an all-natural aquarium, which means that uses filtered seawater and it doesn’t use any artificial lights, only natural sunlight. The aquarium is not big, but there is a pool where you can touch the turtles and feed them, besides feeding the sharks, too. My advice is to call beforehand and ask when is feeding time.
Onsite the aquarium, there is the Waterfront Restaurant (as you can imagine, the views are spectacular). It is open for breakfast and lunch. It has a kid's and a takeaway menu. Moreover, you can purchase a ‘combo ticket’ for only $32 that allows you to eat and visit the aquarium.
The Reef World Aquarium
Address: On the beach next to Dayman Park, Cnr Kent & Pulgul St, Urangan QLD 4655
Phone Enquires: (07) 41289828
If you need to kill time between the feeding times of the turtles and the sharks, the beach is right there or you can go to Point Dayman Park to let your kids burn some energy. The playground is ideal for primary school aged children. Point Dayman Park also has barbeques and sheltered tables. It is a very popular spot for picnics. Although the playground is not fenced, it is tucked away from the road. The tables are next to the playground. So, it is really one of those places to keep in mind, especially if you don’t want to spend a fortune dining out every day… Buy some sausages, cook a barbeque and relax meanwhile the children play.
Point Dayman Park
Address: 606 Charlton Esplanade, Urangan QLD 4655
Pack the scooters and stroll the Esplanade (also known as Charlton Esplanade)
When we went to Hervey Bay, we did not think about packing the scooters. How silly! The pedestrian/bicycle path of the Esplanade runs from the Marina (Urangan Boat Harbour) to Point Vernon. It has a total of 17km and it is completely flat. So, the possibilities are endless! Go jogging, go for a walk or ride a bike. Have a meal or a coffee in one of the alfresco cafes, if you need a break. Or just go to the beach and then continue walking. The beach is a paradise for families with young children as Hervey Bay waters are calm and protected.
In a sunny day, you might want to combine beach + meal at Enzos on the beach. They serve breakfast until 2pm. It's menu it is quite unique as you can literally build your own breakfast with an extensive list of ingredients! Yummy! Also, the lunch menu offers an above average number of dishes, considering that Enzo’s on the beach is a kiosk. Enzos on the beach doesn’t only serve meals; they also offer paddle boards for hire.
Enzos on the beach
Address: 351a Esplanade, Hervey Bay, Scarness QLD 4655
Phone: (07) 4124 6375
Web page: www.enzosonthebeach.com.au
Another café to take into account, it is Aquavue. Like Enzos on the beach, Aquavue is also right on the beach. It serves all day breakfast, besides lunch and dinner (Thursday trough Monday). The café also offers big banana boats rides and all sorts of watersports equipment for hire such as Jet Skies, catamarans, kayaks, paddleboards and surrey bikes.
Address: 415a The Esplanade, Torquay QLD 4655
Phone: (07) 4125 5528
Web page: www.aquavue.com.au
To summarise, the “Esplanade” itself is a tourist attraction. Scattered along the 17km, you will find parks, picnic spots and several playgrounds. This is why Hervey Bay is also a budget friendly holiday destination. You can do so many things without a price tag!
For more information regarding the Esplanade, here there is a very interesting link: www.ourfrasercoast.com.au/hervey-bay-esplanade-walk-and-ride-trail
Take the kids for a splash at the Wetside Water Education Park or Hervey Bay Go Track
Little children will love the Wetside Water Education Park. My daughters were so happy when we took them to the water park that we had to go twice during the holidays. The regional web page of Fraser Coast describes it as “a fun, eco-friendly public asset designed around water 'infotainment' “. The entry is free, except the FlipSide BoardRider wave machine that costs $6 per person. There are 4 different areas: Totside for the under 5’s, the sprinkles/fountains, the slide + tipping bucket and the already mentioned FlipSlide BoardRider.
It is a very safe and clean water playground, although it can be very busy. We “lost” our daughters between the sprinkles/fountains several times. This is why I don’t have any good photos (excuse me). We knew that they couldn’t escape, but we panicked -of course- because they were quite little.
Wetside Water Education Park
Address: Main St & The Esplanade, Hervey Bay QLD 4655
Phone: 0406 451 472
Web page: www.frasercoast.qld.gov.au/Wetside
For older kids, you might like to go to Hervey Bay Go Kart Track. Besides the karts, there is a 120m long water slide.
Hervey Bay Go Track
Address: 245 Scrub Hill Rd, Nikenbah QLD 4655
Phone: (07) 4128 1180
Web page: http://www.herveybaygokarttrack.com.au
Go to the Marina + Grab fish and chips or eat as much seafood as you can
If there is a place where you can eat succulent scallops and prawns as well as fresh fish is Hervey Bay.
In fact, Hervey Bay hosts the Seafood Hervey Bay Festival (Fishermen’s Park, Urangan Boat Harbour) in August. This year one of the invited chefs is Javier Codina, born in Barcelona (Catalonia, Spain). His cuisine is simply delicious. He adapted really well the Catalan-Mediterranean Cuisine with a modern Australian twist. If you ever have the chance to go to his Moda Restaurant in Brisbane CBD, I am pretty confident that you will enjoy his food.
For more information about the festival: www.herveybayseafoodfestival.com.au
Urangan Fisheries Retail Shop (860 Boat Harbour Drive, Urangan, QLD) in the Marina precinct (Urangan Boat Harbour) is one of the best fish and chips shops in Hervey Bay. They are specialised in wild caught seafood.
Another option of fish and chips is Birneys Seafood on the Esplanade (426 Esplanade, Torquay, QLD 4655). Generally speaking, kids hate waiting. But if you go to Birneys Seafood, your kids may even forget that they are hungry, as there is a very cute playground across the road, the Ernie Organ Park also known as the ‘Train Park’. There are also tables, so what a good combo: fish and chips + playground.
See Humpback whales and dwarf Minke Whales in action (from June to November)
The whale season in Hervey Bay goes from June to November. The secluded and warm waters of Hervey Bay are perfect for the Humpback whales mothers and their calves. In winter, the mothers teach their newborn calves the survival skills that will need for migrating to the Antarctic.
Besides the famous Humpback Whales, the Minke Whales also choose Hervey Bay to hang out around June-July when they come from the Tropical North Queensland. So, no wonder Hervey Bay calls itself the Whale capital of the world! That’s a lot of whales.
While the Humpback Whales can be seen on a touristy whale watching boat, the Minke ones can only be seen on a research-based trip in the Ribbon Reefs. There are lots of companies that offer whale watching tours. But, unfortunately, I cannot recommend you any of them because we went to Hervey Bay in summer. But I found this blog that has information about whale watching that I hope that is helpful: www.blog.queensland.com/2016/05/27/which-whale-watching-boat-is-for-you/
Experience the adventure even you have little ones
What I can highly recommend is the Fraser Island Tour that we did with Boat Club Adventure Cruises. We chose the cruise with the go boom netting. My husband, my 4-year-old and 2-year-old daughters had a blast!
The views of Fraser Island from the cruise were so beautiful! You could appreciate the golden sands of the islands from the boat. The contrast with the blue skies and the turquoise deep blue waters of the sea was spectacular. Oh, mother nature! There is no need to buy postcards in Hervey Bay. What we saw was real.
Note: The Whale Watch booking office is located next to reception of the Hervey Bay Boat Club. Cruises depart from the Urangan Marina just below the club. There is a café / restaurant in the Club that you can hang out if you need to wait before the tour. Also, if you have a license, you can hire a boat from the Boat Club and experience yourself Fraser Island.
Boat Club Adventure Cruises
Address: Buccaneer Dr, Urangan QLD 4655
Phone: 0455 074 72
Web page: www.boatclubadventurecruises.com.au
For more adventure, you can check Susan River Homestead Adventure Resort. I had a quick look at it and it seems an amazing place to have an active holiday www.susanriver.com
The place that you should go, if you have little children: The Fraser Coast Wildlife Sanctuary
The Fraser Coast Wildlife Sanctuary is a ‘not-for-profit organization-wildlife sanctuary’, which means that it exists thanks to a passionate and dedicated team of volunteers and thanks to the donations and money that receive from the admission tickets as well as the merchandise that the Sanctuary sells. The Fraser Coast Wildlife Sanctuary also receives the support of several regional institutions.
I remember that the staff was very friendly and after visiting the sanctuary, we hanged out in the café having a lovely talk with one of the volunteers meanwhile the kids were entertained drawing pictures. In the Fraser Coast Wildlife Sanctuary, we could pat kangaroos, feed them and ‘play’ with the cockatoos. These ones were very chatty and so repeated for us several times “Hello cockie”. We also saw a dingo, snakes and lots of colourful birds. The had a lovely time. The visit was worth it.
Besides the canteen, the sanctuary has BBQ facilities and tables. Feeding times are included with the purchase of the ticket admission, but the interactive experiences with a dingo and a snake as well as the ranger packages have an extra cost. The Sanctuary also has a sponsorship program where you can sponsor an animal. There are more than 15 animals that you can choose!
The Fraser Coast Wildlife Sanctuary
Address: 31 Mungar Road, Maryborough 4650
Phone: (07) 4122 2080
Web page: www.frasercoastwildlifesanctuary.org.au
Bad weather? Go to the museums
If it rains, you might want to visit the Hervey Bay Regional Gallery (166 Old Maryborough Rd, Pialba QLD 4655) and the Hervey Bay Historical Village and Museum (13 Zephyr Street, Scarness QLD 4655). This last one covers 1.2 hectares, has 21 old buildings and a collection of 12,000 items. Every Sunday, there are interactive demonstrations that help to explain how tough was life before without the technology that we have nowadays.
Finally, if you live in a city that has beautiful Botanical Gardens, you might want to skip to visit the ones from Hervey Bay. If not, it is a good place for a stretch. Kids usually like to look at the different flowers, plants and trees. We did not visit them because we were coming from Brisbane, where we used to go very often to the Brisbane Mount Coo-tha Botanical Gardens.
Outside Hervey Bay:
Discover Fraser Island
You can discover Fraser Island either going on a day trip or staying on the island. We decided to go to Fraser Island in the future, because our plan was mainly having a relaxing time. To disembark all the bags, the double pram and the beach gear once was more than enough; we would not do it twice... You know what I mean…
Nevertheless, the day trip to Fraser Island is amazing according to my sister that went there. Look all the photos! I can’t believe that Fraser Island has so much vegetation considering that it is the biggest sandy island of the world. The Maheno Shipwreck is like the ones of the pirates’ movies. But this one is a real! But it was actually a hospital ship during World War I that transported the injured soldiers. And Lake McKenzie is exactly how the tourist brochures describe it: pure white sand with crystal water.
As the Fraser Island tours are a long day, this excursion might be easier to do with older children. Going to Fraser Island with young children is not impossible, you only have to have the energy and love the adventure. Before booking a tour, the most important thing to remember is that children will still need a car seat or capsule in Fraser Island. In spite of being only tracks and dirt roads, the road laws are the same as in any other place of Australia.
Fraser Island gets quite busy during school holidays, so book in advance.
Visit the beautiful park Queens Park + extent your day discovering some “gems” in Maryborough
Queens Park with is manicured botanical gardens is just beautiful! Located right next to the Mary River, it is a lovely place to go for a romantic walk or have a picnic. From all the old trees, there is a giant one: ‘the large Banyan Tree’. It is so big that is the ultimate spot for playing hide and seek. It was so much fun that my husband couldn’t help himself and had to join my daughters.
Extra: if you go to Queens Park on Thursday, Mary Ann Steam Train Rides run from Queens Park to Sussex St following the course of the Mary River. Also, the last Sunday of each month, in the morning, there are miniature trains rides.
Besides the trains, Maryborough is home of the Mary Poppins statue. The village even has a Mary Poppins Festival! So, if your children like the Mary Poppins movie, why don’t you show them the statue? Or go to Maryborough for the Mary Poppins Festival that takes place during the June-July school holidays? More info, here: www.marypoppinsfestival.com.au
Vinter Secret Vinyard in Childers
This is not an average winery or one of those where only posh people go. It has all the “ingredients” to spend a wonderful morning or afternoon with little kids. Besides the wine tasting, there are farm animals, a café, a library for the kiddies, and lots of space for the children to run in the gardens (the only drawback is that it is not fenced). The admission is $2.
Vinter Secret Vinyard
Address: 135 North Isis Road Childers QLD 4660
Phone: (07) 4126 1255
Web page: www.vintnerssecret.com.au/
Other stuff to do from Hervey Bay
Go snorkelling: Lady Elliot Island is well known for it
Lady Elliot Island is well known for its snorkelling and diving. It is a ‘sanctuary for over 1,200 species of marine life and is known for its abundance of manta rays and turtles, and an amazing array of spectacular marine life and unspoilt coral reef ‘. Source: www.ladyelliot.com.au
From Hervey Bay, you can book a day trip to Lady Elliot Island. The Lady Elliot Island counter is at the Hervey Bay/Fraser Coast Airport (next to the Virgin counter).
Please, any volunteers to take me to Fraser Island and Lady Elliot Island? After writing this article, I am dreaming about going back to Hervey Bay. Are you going, too?