If a big part of your holidays and weekends away is great food and fresh local produce, then you are in for a treat in Hervey Bay! There are some amazing dining experiences in this region, featuring incredibly fresh local produce and fantastic locations and outlooks.
The Fraser Coast offers a vast array of locally grown, caught and organic products. In fact the region is home to two of cooking’s most prized natural ingredients – the Hervey Bay scallop and the macadamia nut!
Hervey Bay scallops are the most highly valued scallops in the world, appearing on menus throughout Europe, and prized for their appearance, texture and flavour. If you see Hervey Bay scallops on the menu whilst in Hervey Bay it is an obligatory order – they are amazing!!
Bauple Mountain, just down the road from Hervey Bay is widely acknowledged as the ancestral home of the macadamia nut – historically (and sometimes even today) known as the “Bopple Nut”. You may see some nut vans on the side of the road as you travel throughout the region – they are always worth a stop to sample these wonderfully oily nuts that can be flavoured in some imaginative ways!
Prawns, whiting, honey, lychees and a vast variety of organic (flavoursome) local fruits and vegetables will be found and featured on local restaurant menus (and often for sale in roadside stalls). Don’t be shy to ask what is local and fresh! And best of all .... Hervey Bay locals don’t even own a collared shirt, so whilst the quality of the food, location and experiences are top notch, you don’t need to overdress to enjoy an amazing meal!
Enzos on the Beach – a shack right on the beach ... amazing outlook! Best value ($12) Eggs Benedict in the world!!! ... I also recommend “Eggs on the Beach” - scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, baby spinach and avocado with hollandaise sauce served with toasted sour dough. Open 7 days a week from 7am.
EAT at Dan & Stephs – Dan & Steph were the 2013 winners of My Kitchen Rules! Try the Reuben or the sausage (Dan makes his own awesome snags!). Open for breakfast and lunch.
Arkarra Tea Gardens – open for breakfast on weekends and lunch Wednesday to Sunday, the Arkarra Tea House is just a 5 minute drive out of town on the Burrum Heads Road. Indulge in the freshly cooked cakes and scones sitting under your own Balinese hut within beautifully peaceful gardens. Don’t forget the camera as there are some lovely walks around the lagoons with lots of birdlife.
Goodys on the Beach – a 10 minute drive north on the Burrum Heads Road, this is a local secret! Set on the mouth of the Beelbi Creek, Toogoom features little more than a cafe and a small restaurant (Guy Sebastian has a holiday house here). The little jetty out the front with drying sand banks and little old men fishing from beaten up tinnies is a photographers dream. Goodys is the place to be for a Sunday lunch when they also feature some cool acoustic guitar players.
Bayswater – a pub near the iconic Hervey Bay pier, the Bayswater has a great balcony with a beautiful outlook over the water and the 1km long Hervey Bay Pier. This is a pub with pub standard food, but it is consistent, great value and the view is pretty special (you can see the west side of Fraser Island in the distance). Try the Szechuan Squid or one of their lunch specials before walking it off with a 2km round trip stroll to the end of the pier and back.
Badger & Brown’s Burgerie – our friends at the amazing Coast Restaurant have opened a flash burger bar! Eat in or take away, the burgers here feature flash ingredients and flash flavours in a very casual “Happy Days” style setting close to the beach. Pick a booth and keep your eyes open for the Fonz!
Coast Restaurant – our number 1 pick - this place is amazing! Named as one of the top 10 restaurants in Qld, and the only restaurant north of Brisbane to be awarded a “Hat” by the Good Food Guide, Coast is a true dining experience. Their “sharing” style menu features heaps of great local produce, slow cooked meats, amazing seafood, and specialty desserts. My favourites – slow roasted lamb shoulder or the masterstock pork belly with chilly jam.
Santinis – I had guests from Rome recently that told me that this was the best Italian food they had eaten outside of Italy!! A cheap, cheerful and simple trattoria this place is always busy, so be early or make a booking. Save room for their amazing home made Gelati.
Black Dog Cafe – casual dining in a small local restaurant. Sit outside on the street and order fresh local seafood off the blackboard menu. Try the Barramundi Sunset, with barramundi, local scallops and king prawns – yum! Pop next door to the Irish pub for a Guiness for dessert.
If you are staying in town without transportation, the local clubs are a great option, with courtesy buses, fantastic value meals, some excellent entertainment, and the usual poker machines and sports bars to try your luck.
Boat Club – the Boat Club has a fantastic bistro – huge servings, consistently good quality meals and a beautiful outlook over the Hervey Bay Marina. Their courtesy shuttle will also pick you up and drop you back to your accommodation!
RSL – the RSL features all the usual poker machines, sports bar, great bistro, courtesy shuttle as well as some incredible entertainment. Be sure to check out their quarterly free guide (Premiere) that is available from most accommodations in town for a guide to what entertainment is scheduled – you might find some amazing (and cheap) shows and bands.
Maddigans – a beachside town should always be about seafood. Maddigans does the best fish and chips in town. Grab some fish, chips, fresh oysters, scallops and salads and head to the park or beach for a picnic – perfect!
Smithy’s Pizza – great pizza with fresh ingredients, Smithy’s also does fantastic take away pasta meals as well. If you are on holidays and want a night in, Smithy’s will deliver to any accommodation in Hervey Bay. Try the Capricciosa with anchovies.
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Hervey Bay is best known for its access to Fraser Island, Lady Elliot Island (Great Barrier Reef), and for its renowned status as the “Whale Watching Capital of the World”. There is also a lot to recommend Hervey Bay as a destination in itself, with so much to see and do in Hervey Bay and it’s surrounding villages. Whether you are an international visitor on an east coast adventure, or an “Aussie local” looking for a great beachside holiday, you can’t go wrong planning an extra couple of days in Hervey Bay to unwind, relax, and enjoy the serenity of this beautiful coastal town.
Top 10 Hervey Bay Things to Do
Hervey Bay’s iconic pier was built in 1913 to take sugar, coal and timber from Maryborough and surrounds. It was originally 1107m in length prior to being decommissioned as a commercial pier in 1985 and shortened to a still impressive 870m. The pier is a lovely walk at any time of day, with a myriad of fisherman and “colourful characters” to entertain you on the way. Enjoy the great views of the western side of Fraser Island, some great photo opportunities at sunset, or hire some fishing gear and throw in a line!
The 14km bike and walking track that extends the length of the Esplanade and runs along the beach / foreshore is great for a walk, jog or even better - hire some bikes (shop diagonally opposite the pier or from Aquavue Cafe half-way along the Esplanade). There are community BBQs in the parks to enjoy a day on the beach or a picnic in the park!
Swimming / Beaches
Hervey Bay sits in the lee of Fraser Island, and hence has a calm and protected 12km long north-facing beach. The stinger-free waters are safe for swimming all year round, with an average water temperature between 21 and 26 degrees – often warmer in than out!! To enjoy miles of almost deserted beach, head 10 minutes out of town up the Burrum Heads Road to Dundowran Beach – take the camera for some awesome sunset pics!
Wetside Water Park
The Water Park is fantastic for families with kids of all ages. Best of all – its free!!! For the slightly older kids there is the Flipside BoardRider Wave Machine right next door which has a small charge per ride ($5). Don’t miss the laser light show at sunset on Friday and Saturday nights (summer months).
With over 1000km2 of protected waters in Platypus Bay, the Fraser Coast offers some of the best and varied fishing experiences of any destination in Australia! Estuary, beach, reef, jetty, pier, fly (fresh and saltwater) and game fishing is on offer all year round. When the whales are here in August – October, the tailor are running off Fraser Island, offering some exciting beach fishing, and then shortly after in the early summer, black marlin are plentiful around the top of the island. For the weekend fisherman, try the end of the pier, the rock wall at the marina, or the end of the jetty at Toogum. Check out the Fraser Coast Fishing Trails for all the info you need or ask us about organised fishing trips / tours. We have some of the best and well known fishing guides in Australia at your disposal!
On the Water
Outside of whale watching season there are lots of opportunities to get out on the water. Try a morning dolphin watching cruise (you might also see dugongs!), a Sunday Lunch cruise, a Remote Fraser Island trip up the rarely visited west coast of Fraser, or a relaxing sunset cruise.
The calm waters along the foreshore are also perfect for kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, sailing (catamarans) and kitesurfing. Hire equipment is available from Enzos and Aquavue on the beach side of the Esplanade.
Eating / Drinking
Hervey Bay has some amazing and varied dining experiences, including one of the top 10 restaurants in all of Queensland – Coast (a must do experience!). I also recommend the Bayswater (upmarket pub opposite the pier), Santinis (Italian), Black Dog Cafe (great small local restaurant), and Enzos On The Beach for breakfast. On Saturday nights the seafood buffet at Kingfisher Resort is great value - $79 per person includes a return jet-cat transfer from Urangan Marina. Don’t forget to try the famous Hervey Bay Scallops!
Discovery Sphere ($7.50)
This amazing interactive discovery centre opened in late 2012 and is an excellent opportunity for visitors of all ages to learn about the great natural wonders of our region. Whales, turtles, Fraser Island, indigenous legends and history and so much more. There is a stunning theatre experience and hands-on animal experiences and nature talks during school holidays. – definitely worth an hour or 2.
Historical Museum ($7)
Step back in time and see what growing up in regional Australia in the “good old days” was really like! This hidden gem features volunteers dressed in period costumes, over 21 buildings with displays and lots of live demonstrations including rope making, blacksmithing, corn shelling, wood turning etc. Open Friday, Sat, Sun and public and school holidays. You should allow at least 2 hours.
Birdwatching / Gardens / Photography
There are over 290 species of birds in the Fraser Coast region and over 350 on Fraser Island – a birdwatchers paradise! Check out the Botanic Gardens, Arkarra Lagoons and Dundowran Beach. Whilst at the Botanic Gardens it is worth a visit to the Orchid House which has over 20,000 orchids! You should also check out the traditional Chinese Garden, built with co-operation from our Chinese sister city Leshan. For the photographer, in addition to these locations, it is worth a drive out to Toogum which sits at the mouth of the Beelbi Creek. A little pub / restaurant (Goodeys) is a great place on a Sunday afternoon with live music and a stunning outlook.
Of course, when planning your Hervey Bay getaway, don’t forget to stay at the best and most awarded Hervey Bay Accommodation – the Emeraldene Inn & Eco-Lodge. We would love to have you stay with us, and we are always happy to assist in your holiday planning.
I always suggest that the best way to get to Hervey Bay is to drive. (See previous post here.) Hervey Bay is an easy 3 ¼ hour drive (290km) from Brisbane, with a LOT of great stop-offs and things to see and do on the way, making it a very rewarding journey.
From the north, it is 125km / 1 ½ hours from Bundaberg, or 425km / 5 hours from Yeppoon, which is half way to the Whitsundays / Airlie Beach. (Yeppoon is a MUCH better place to stay than Rockhampton if you are doing the drive from Airlie Beach to Hervey Bay – trust me! I will cover the north-bound journey in a future blog post.)
Once in Hervey Bay, having a vehicle is a decided advantage, as town is much bigger than most anticipate – 16km from one end to the other. With no real CBD or centre of town, Hervey Bay is essentially 5 suburbs or villages that have joined together over time, and there are lots of pockets of shops and facilities scattered everywhere. It is nice to have a vehicle to explore town and the surrounding region.
If you can allow yourself a full day (or even 2) for your journey north, there is a lot to see and do on the way. Whilst you would find it a challenge to do all my suggestions in a day, you might be able to cover most of this in 2! (Let me know how you go!!!)
The Glasshouse Mountains Lookout is less than 10km from Australia Zoo (to the south) and offers a magnificent view of the many volcanic plugs that make up the Glasshouse Mountains. If you are really keen, leave Brisbane VERY early and get to the lookout for sunrise – a photographers dream!! There are 8 great walking tracks within the Glasshouse National Park, ranging from 25 minutes to 5 hours.
Australia Zoo is an awesome experience, and in my opinion MUCH better than Taronga Zoo in Sydney. For those that don’t know, this is Steve Irwin’s Zoo (the crocodile hunter – who was tragically killed by a stingray a few years ago). You really need to allow 3 – 4 hrs minimum to get around the zoo, and you MUST see the Wildlife Warriors Show at 12pm in the crocoseum.
Heading north from the zoo you have a choice to go to the mountains or the coast (or just bypass both and continue up the highway!).
Montville and Maleny are 2 quaint little villages perched on the top of the Blackall Ranges. With magnificent views over the Sunshine Coast, these little villages are full of art galleries, art and craft shops, gift shops, quirky cafes and restaurants, and some awesome cheese factories. You can easily spend at least 2 hours here visiting the galleries and sampling some of the locally made cheeses and pate’s.
The coast drive up the Sunshine Coast beaches is fantastic. Underwater World is an awesome aquarium experience, definitely worth a visit in Mooloolaba. Whilst you are there, the Surf Club at Mooloolaba is one of my favourite places to eat on the Sunshine Coast – an awesome location and outlook right on the beach!
Heading north you will come to Coolum Beach, a quiet and non-touristy beach which is my favourite place to swim – uncrowded and clean. The surf club at Coolum is also a great spot for lunch, with a beautiful view of the ocean from the top deck (which is in the shade in the afternoons – so take a jacket!).
Noosa is the most famous of the Sunshine Coast villages, and is pretty “touristy”. In my opinion, the best part of Noosa is the National Park. As you come into Noosa, rather than turning left into Hastings Street, turn right and head out to the National Park (2 minutes). The coast walk is delightful, with some great photographic opportunities. There are also koalas in the wild in the park – ask at the info booth near the car park if anyone has seen a koala on any of the tracks recently.
If you are travelling on a Wednesday or Saturday you MUST stop off and visit the famous Eumundi Art and Craft markets. Eumundi is literally a stones throw off the highway heading north, so is a 2 minute sidetrip (but allow 1hr to visit the markets). Hundreds of art and craft stalls scattered amongst the trees – food, fruit, teas, coffees, pastries, cheeses etc as well!
When you get to Gympie you are exactly 1 ½ hours from Hervey Bay. You can continue up the Bruce Highway, or take a more pleasant and scenic journey through the pine forests on the Tin Can Bay / Rainbow Beach Road.
Rainbow Beach is a 30km (1/2 hour each way) detour in to the coast, and is a beautiful place to visit. Thousands of years ago Rainbow Beach was an extension of Fraser Island, so the topography / geography is similar.
As you come into town keep an eye open for the little street sign on the right and drive up to the Carlo Sand Blow. A sand blow is a massive moving sand dune, and the walk out to the Carlo Sand Blow is an easy 10 minute walk rewarded by fantastic views over the Wide Bay Bar and ocean on one side, and the Glasshouse Mountains on the other (fantastic at sunset).
Drive up to Inskip Point where the barges take vehicles across to Fraser, and before you leave town have lunch at the little surf club. It is about 1 ½ hours from Rainbow Beach to Hervey Bay.
LOTS to see and do on the way, and certainly worth hiring a car and slotting an extra day into the itinerary for the journey from Brisbane to Hervey Bay.
We are often asked what is the easiest / cheapest way to get to Hervey Bay – so here is the inside info and best tips ... access is easy and cheap (if you plan ahead!) ...
Hervey Bay is located approx a 2 hour drive north of Noosa and the Sunshine Coast, and approx 3 ¼ hours drive from Brisbane Airport. Access is available by train (Queensland Rail Tilt Train), air (Qantas and Virgin Australia), or by road.
Qantas flies to Hervey Bay from Brisbane with 4 convenient flights a day during the week and 3 on weekends. If you are coming from other destinations, be sure to search for flights from your originating port to Hervey Bay (Fraser Coast), as the through pricing will be cheaper than booking separate legs.
Sydney to Hervey Bay flights (via Brisbane) start at around $150 and offer the best arrival times (first flight from Sydney departs 6am arriving at 9am).
Brisbane to Hervey Bay flights start at $106. (4 flights a day)
Melbourne to Hervey Bay (via Brisbane) start at $220, with the first flights departing 6am and arriving 9am (good connection for Lady Elliot).
Virgin Australia flies direct from Sydney to Hervey Bay. There is only 1 flight a day which arrives and departs in the middle of the day (11:55 arrival in winter, 10:55 in summer). Flights start at $110.
Melbourne to Hervey Bay starts at $224 (via Sydney).
It is also worth considering flights to the Sunshine Coast, particularly if you are planning on a visit to Noosa as well as Hervey Bay. Virgin has flights from Sydney to Sunshine Coast from $89 and from Melbourne to Sunshine Coast for $125. Then hire a car for the trip to Hervey Bay.
I usually recommend looking at hiring a car if you are originating in, or coming via, Brisbane or the Sunshine Coast. It is an easy 3 1/4 hr drive from Brisbane or 2 hrs from Sunshine Coast. Australia Zoo is about half way and is a must-see stop if you are driving from Brisbane.
Hervey Bay itself is a big, spread out town, being 18km from one end to the other. There is no real CBD or centre of town, so it is difficult to explore and navigate without a vehicle. Car hire these days is very reasonable. You can hire a car for between $40 and $50 per day with unlimited kilometres. I use www.vroomvroomvroom.com.au to compare prices and book (and escape the one way delivery charge rental companies will try to hit you with if you are not returning to the same place). Make sure to let me know if you are coming by car so I can give you some cool sites to see on the way!
The Tilt Train is a great option for heading north. If you are arriving by plane to Brisbane you can get the airport link train to Roma Street Station where the Tilt Train departs.
There are 2 trips a day from Roma Street Station in Brisbane (except on Saturdays). The departure at 11:00am arrives in Hervey Bay at 3:30pm, and the 4:55pm arrives at 9:30pm. On Saturdays there is only 1 service which departs at 1:10pm and arrives at 6:45pm. One-way price for an adult is $86.50 (which includes the train-link bus from Maryborough to Hervey Bay). You can often save 20% on this with an advance purchase discount. The tilt train has very comfortable (allocated) seating with a shop where you can buy food, drinks, newspapers etc ... very civilized!
The Emeraldene Inn are agents for Queensland Rail so can help you with ticketing travel on the train. Airlines and rental cars you are best to book direct.
Great whales and weather today on the Bay!
If you are a bit short on time with your stay in Hervey Bay and you still want to catch the whales - That's Awesome is the answer! That's Awesome runs 3 times a day - allowing you to squeeze in a whale watch on your day of arrival or day of departure!
This year the Hervey Bay Whale Festival runs the full month of August, with great activities for visitors and families every weekend during the month. Every Friday there will be free family-friendly outdoor movies in Scarness Park, with whale themed films on the agenda for August! (6:15pm every Friday)
This Saturday (4th August) the blessing of the fleet with lots of bands and entertainment will run from 3:30pm - 7:30pm at the marina and is an annual favourite and highlighted with a parade of the Hervey Bay Whale Watching fleet.
Saturday 18th (4pm - 9pm) features the popular illuminated street parade, with lots of colourful floats and music.
Don't miss the Whale Aid Concert on Saturday 25th, 4pm - 9pm with some awesome bands booked for this year's event! Sunday 26th is a great family opportunity from 9am - 1pm in the Botanic Gardens for the Teddy Bear's Picnic - lots of activities for the kids - bring a picnic blanket and your teddy bears 🙂
Finally to wrap up the month, throw away your zimmer frame and head on down to the pier between 6:30pm and 9:30pm for some old fashioned swing music and dancing!
So when planning your Hervey Bay Whale Watching adventure, don't forget there are a lot of other things going on during Whale Festival August!