I’ve been in Australia for 4 months. Becoming an expat here has so far consisted of landing in Brisbane, being amazed at how easy it was to get my visa, moving to Noosa on the Sunshine Coast, and exploring the local area. Basically, it’s all been a bit…rushed. So when the chance for a weekend getaway in Hervey Bay came up, I jumped.
I’m currently working two jobs – I know, it doesn’t sound ideal, but it’s totally worth it – to save as much mullah as possible, ready for an epic 3 month roadtrip around the country at the end of the year. The upside? Plenty of pocket money for future trips. The downside? It leaves little time for exploring. If only Australia wasn’t so ginormous, it might be a little easier to take mini breaks and adventures. But it’s not easy. It take hours – and sometimes days – to drive to another town or city worth visiting.
After 4 months of working and saving though, this month provided a respite from the work-to-travel lifestyle I’ve led for 3 years now. My one-year anniversary with my boyfriend, who I met during my Working Holiday in Canada, was upon us. So up the Queensland coast for a weekend getaway in Hervey Bay we went…
A sleepy coastal town on the Fraser Coast, Hervey Bay is known for being a playground for humpback whales migrating from Antarctica to warmer tropical waters. Unfortunately, whale season is from July to November, so we’ll have to return to take full advantage later in the year. Instead, we got to enjoy the quaint town and some much-needed peace and quiet. Here’s a guide of what to do on a weekend getaway in Hervey Bay.
We stayed at The Beach Motel, which is great if you want a clean, modern room to sleep in in-between exploring. If you’re after something a little…plusher, though, there are plenty of beachfront hotels along the esplanade.
Speaking of the esplanade, it’s where everything happens, which actually isn’t a lot. Hervey Bay really does come alive during the whale migration season, and in between, people enjoy the downtime and the laid back vibes. Whether it’s busy season or a quiet month, you should spend most of your time along the 14km esplanade – walk it, run it or hire and bike and feel like a child again whizzing up and down.
Hervey Bay’s main beach runs parallel to the esplanade and is the perfect stretch of sand. Its waters are totally calm since nearby Fraser Island shelters the bay, making it the perfect place to enjoy a swim or grab a stand-up paddbleboard and take it for a spin. If you’re lucky you can spot a turtle, like I did, or stingrays and dugongs. For those of you like me who read that and think “what the f*ck is a dugong?!”, it’s a large grey mammal like a manatee but more elephant-looking!
A lot of people take the opportunity to do a day trip form Hervey Bay to Fraser Island, which makes total sense since it’s only a 45-minute barge crossing. A trip to the World Heritage site is a must-do while on the east coast of Australia, but we chose not to visit this time because we’d rather do a trip on our own time from Noosa without the constrictions of a tour itinerary and other tourists. Plus, it’s so big that just one day wouldn’t be enough to explore everything!
Another nearby island to visit from Hervey Bay is Lady Elliot Island, which marks the start of the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef. Home to manta rays and turtles galore, this island is north and getting there isn’t cheap. You have to fly to the eco island, but I’d pay anything to spend the day exploring a beautiful island! Again, we decided to leave this til we have more time to be able to see the island in all its glory.
A good way to relax and unwind on a weekend getaway in Hervey Bay is to walk along Urangan Pier. Built in 1917 to export sugar, coal and timber, the pier was saved from demolition in 1985 thanks to protestors. Some of its original 1,124m were knocked down but 880m still stands today. It’s a popular spot with fishermen but we enjoyed it for sunrise. The 5am start was a little tough after a night of drinking what felt like all the beers in the world, but mother nature did her thing and made the hangover disappear.
EAT & DRINK:
Hervey Bay’s esplanade has lots of places to choose from but here are the ones that stood out for us:
Eat at Dan and Steph’s – Owners Dan and Steph were winners of the 2011 My Kitchen Rules (MKR), an Australian reality cooking show, and are awesome at all things food! Faves were the Mexican Bowl, Pulled Pork Poutine and Strawberry Cheesecake Waffles.
Paolo’s Pizza – We sat out front and watched Hervey Bay wind down for the day and gorged on one of the best pizzas I think I’ve ever had and a chicken fettuccine dish. The best part about this place is it’s BYO (bring your own) wine, which really helps to keep costs down but means you’re still able to enjoy a nice glass of wine if that’s your thing.
Enzo’s on the Beach – Lunchtime here is perfect. The place sits…you guessed it, on the beach, and does incredible pulled pork burgers. It’s not the cheapest place but you pay for the ocean view and to relax under palm trees and a cool breeze.
Oriental Palace – this Chinese was packed and we were lucky to get a table on a Friday night and it’s no wonder why. The food is absolutely delicious!
Other places to check out are Arkarra Tea Gardens, The Vinyard, El Puerto Brazilian BBQ and drinks at The Beach House Hotel.
Overall, our weekend getaway to Hervey Bay was the perfect place to unwind and switch off for a few days. It’d be interesting to go back during its high season, but for now I’m more than happy with my experience, even if it was only the third place I’ve visited Down Under so far.
Have you been to Hervey Bay? Share your favourite memories below.