It’s not hard to fall head over heels for Hervey Bay on southern Queensland’s sublime Fraser Coast. This captivating coastal enclave attracts some 80,000 visitors a year during whale watching season (and plenty of beach-loving holidaymakers across the summer months as well) but somehow it manages to hold on to its low-key, relaxed feel. The region is famous for two things – whales and World Heritage-listed K’gari Fraser Island – but leave plenty of time just to soak up the HB vibe. We warn you now, you may never want to leave!
Here’s how to spend 48 hours in Hervey Bay.
8am: Do breakfast by the beach
Breakfast by the beach doesn’t get any ‘beachier’ than at Aquavue in palm-studded Torquay. Place your order, then pull up a pew on the open-air deck overlooking the azure waters of the Great Sandy Strait. Also open for lunch daily and dinner Thursday to Sunday, this contemporary café and bar combines food with fun by offering a full suite of water sports equipment hire – including kayaks, SUPs and even jet skis. Oh, and you would have noticed those fun looking Surrey bikes on the way in…
9am: Pedal the Esplanade Trail
Time to work off your breakfast indulgences. Aquavue sits pretty much right in the centre of the Hervey Bay Esplanade Trail – a sixteen-kilometre bike and walking track that hugs the coast from the Urangan Boat Harbour to the south, to Point Vernon to the north. Hire a twin-seater Surrey and use pedal power to explore. The trail is almost perfectly flat, which makes cycling a breeze. And two sets of legs are better than one!
11am: Get wet
If you make it to Pialba, you might want to take the opportunity to cool off at the awesome WetSide Water Park. This public facility is largely free of charge (a fee applies to use the waterslides) and operates from September through to April. After you’re done on the massive splash pad, grab a coffee from Bean Beat cafe.
1pm: Enjoy Asian flavours
Pedal your way back towards Torquay, stopping in at top-rated Vinvero’s Café at Scarness for a relaxed bite to eat. This quirky café does great coffee and an all-day breakfast menu, but it’s the Asian tastes that have everyone talking. Think zesty laksa soups, plump bao buns, spicy satays and egg-topped nasi goreng. Sensational!
3pm: Learn the ways of the whales
Drop off your bike and freshen up before visiting the Hervey Bay Regional Gallery in Pialba, which also houses the excellent Fraser Coast Discovery Sphere museum. The gallery stages locally curated and touring exhibitions throughout the year, while the museum will give you a crash course in whale moves. Snap a selfie with the life-size sculpture of Nala the humpback breaching outside the building.
5.15pm: Raise a toast on a sunset cruise
Nothing goes together quite like a golden sunset and a glass of bubbles. Combine the two on a Sunset Champagne Cruise on the Great Sandy Strait with Blue Dolphin Marine Tours. Departing the marina each afternoon from November to June, skipper Peter Lynch and his crew will spoil you with sparkling, accompanied by a bountiful platter of moreish nibbles.
7pm: Dine out in style
You’re spoilt for choice for great places to eat in Hervey Bay, but for something really special, book a table at Coast in Torquay. Choose to sit on the open terrace or enjoy the cool and calming sanctuary of the air-conditioned interior. The menu incorporates a sumptuous selection of share plates and the flavourful Hervey Bay scallops are not to be missed.
7am: Walk the Pier
There’s nothing like a brisk morning walk to get the day off to a great start, and a stroll out to the end of the heritage Urangan Pier and back (just under two kilometres) will do the trick. The walk offers fabulous views across to Fraser Island and back towards the mainland. Find out from local fishermen what’s running and contemplate the history of this epic structure, which has defined the Hervey Bay coastline since 1913.
8am: Brunch at a beach club
You’ve earned a hearty breakfast, so hightail it over to Enzo’s on the Beach in Scarness. This beach club-style eatery features a high ceiling, an interior collage of eclectic textures and finishes, and a deck with both standard seating and comfortable lounges and beanbag seats overlooking the golden beach. Try the pancake stack with berries and cream or the chunky but moist double smoked leg ham omelette, with tomato, cheese and baby spinach on rye.
10am: Go whale watching or dolphin spotting
It wouldn’t be a visit to Hervey Bay without getting out on the water to meet the marine dwelling locals. Whale watching cruises on the Great Sandy Strait are offered from mid-July through to late October, when the last of the whales depart the region to continue south to Antarctica. Cruises depart daily from the marina and most offer a whale sighting guarantee (or your next cruise is free).
For the rest of the year operators diversify by offering dolphin spotting cruises and day cruises to Fraser Island. Check out Hervey Bay Eco Marine Tours, which offers a year-round Turtle Discovery Tour with an Indigenous focus. You’ll learn about aspects of local Butchulla culture, and seek out dolphins, sea turtles and dugongs. Lunch is included.
5pm: Dock for sundowners
On arrival back at the marina, there are several options for enjoying a pre-dinner tipple overlooking the water. Head to The Dock, which melds an industrial chic vibe with a killer cocktail list and tapas-style bites. Life doesn’t get much better than this.
7pm: Feast on fresh seafood
End your day with a relaxed dinner at the Hervey Bay Boat Club. The a la carte bistro offers harbour-view dining paired with an extensive wine list. Push the boat out on a classic seafood platter, complete with a serving of sand crab, Moreton Bay bug, natural oysters, succulent ocean king prawns, lemon pepper squid and battered flathead.
Need a place to stay?
Located in Pialba and close to shops, cafes, and the Hervey Bay Regional Gallery, Comfort Inn on Main Hervey Bay features 28 newly refurbished and air-conditioned rooms – each with onsite parking. Guests enjoy free Wi-Fi, use of the hotel’s tropical-style in-ground pool, and a complimentary drink and discount on dining at the nearby Hervey Bay RSL Club.
About the writer
Adam Ford is editor of The Big Bus tour and travel guide and a travel TV presenter, writer, blogger and photographer. He has previously had the opportunity to travel the world as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten.