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Hervey Bay is well known as a playground for whales and Fraser Island is a UNESCO World Heritage site worthy of royalty, but there’s much more to make a Fraser Coast holiday one to remember.
Think everything from beach camping to lapping up some luxury in an award-winning day spa.
Stretching from Inskip Point to Burrum Heads – and encompassing the world’s largest sand island plus over 7000 square kilometres of hinterland – the Fraser Coast boasts some of Australia’s most iconic experiences.
This makes any time of year a good one for a holiday that’s as jam-packed with Insta-worthy pics as it is with indulging the senses.
Our handy travel planner covers all you need to know about visiting the Fraser Coast, so why not block out that spot in your calendar? You know you want to.
Hervey Bay’s rep as Australia’s best for whale watching is well deserved. The July to November season sees tens of thousands of humpback whales stopping by for a spot of relaxation and family time, as mothers train their calves in the art of adulting.
This makes for guaranteed encounters with creatures as large as fully-loaded semitrailers performing acrobatic displays of breaching, slapping and blowing to rival any Olympic gymnast’s routine.
Fraser Island (or K’Gari, the local Butchulla people’s word for ‘paradise’) has also made its mark on the world map, thanks to a visit from Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in 2018. The only place in the known universe where rainforest grows directly from sand, K’Gari has nature experiences to tempt the greenest of greenies.
If you enjoy crowd-free beaches, secluded bushwalks, exploring charming hinterland towns (history boffins will know that PL Travers – the author of Mary Poppins – was born at the heritage-listed bank building in Maryborough in 1899), or fishing to send Rex Hunt reeling into raptures, this region is for you.
WHEN TO GO
With its subtropical climate, the Fraser Coast’s weather is ideal for year-round outdoor activity – perfect if you hail from chillier locales.
December to February are the hot, wet months, but still average a pleasant daytime of 30°C. Winter is warm and dry. And the daytime temps of 22-28°C between May and November just happen to coincide with whale-watching season! This makes it a popular time to visit (as are school holidays), so book well in advance.
Fraser Island’s weather is similar, but it gets higher rainfall (you can’t grow rainforest that spectacular without it), so pack your raincoat and brolly.
Whatever the season, there’s guaranteed to be something to get you in a festive mood. Apart from the annual Whale Festival, there’s the Relish Food and Wine Festival, Art After Dark and a celebration of all things seafood.
WHAT TO DO THERE
If whales and World Heritage-listed natural wonders aren’t enough to incite some FOMO, there’s sailing, diving, four-wheel driving, and national parks to explore.
Creative types can get a culture fix at Hervey Bay Regional Gallery, or grab a hand-crafted treasure from the Maryborough markets.
For more inspo, here’s a list of 50 things to do on the Fraser Coast, plus the 20 top things to do with kids.
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK
From feasting on fresh local scallops as you gaze across the Great Sandy Strait, to unwrapping crispy fish and chips while the kids frolic in the water park, the Fraser Coast can appease every appetite.
‘The Bay’ may not be renowned for its dining (yet), but it’s up-and-coming food scene has attracted world-class players. From fine dining establishments like The Vinyard – which pairs locally-grown produce with sommelier-selected wines – to more casual (but equally visit-worthy) coastal faves like Enzo’s on the Beach, you’ll be coming back for seconds. Check out this list of best restaurants – as rated by locals.
Vegans will love the plant-based menu at The Front Room (their burgers even make carnivores drool), and coffee snobs will find a suitable hit at numerous waterfront cafes.
If you’ve only got 48 hours, this post will help you eat, drink and explore your way round the Bay in a weekend.
On K’Gari, Kingfisher Bay Resort has three restaurants. Their signature Seabelle Restaurant’s menu blends fresh, local produce with bush tucker flavours from their onsite nursery. The Maheno Restaurant offers all-day snacks and buffet-style dining, while the Sand Bar features bistro style meals on the deck.
Not to be missed is a drink at the Sunset Bar. It’s a rare east-Australian treat to sip a glass of bubbles while watching the sun set over the water.
WHERE TO STAY
When it comes to Hervey Bay accommodation, there’s something for everyone. For a stay that’s packed with dining, entertainment and whale action, book in the heart of the Bay.
The Mantra Hervey Bay overlooks the marina and Great Sandy Strait, with wide balconies to capture the sea breeze. If your kids aren’t exhausted enough after a day of activity, the swimming pools, playground and gigantic bouncing pillow at Discovery Parks should do the trick.
If you’re style is more country than coastal, the Fraser Coast Hinterland’s charming towns might light your fire.
Keen anglers can bunker down at the Burrum Coast and Great Sandy Strait, where fish outnumber humans.
Kingfisher Bay Resort is Fraser’s leading eco-accommodation, with hotel rooms, villas and executive houses. Beach bums might prefer Eurong Beach Resort while happy campers will find all they need to know before pitching the tent on this infographic.
BEST DAY TRIPS TO TAKE
The Fraser Coast has enough day trips to fill your yearly planner, including several ways to experience Fraser in a day. For a trip with a difference, Tasman Venture’s Remote Island Tour will take you on waters less travelled.
Breathe some fresh country air on a road trip through the Fraser Coast Hinterland. Or explore seaside villages and pristine beaches on this self-drive discovery trail.
For those who prefer doing time underwater, the ex-HMAS Tobruk is Queensland’s newest wreck dive. It’s accessible to open water divers, while the more advanced can explore the entire wreck to a depth of 30 metres, including hull penetration.
THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
Flights leave Brisbane for Hervey Bay daily, or hire a car and you can drive there in 3.5 hours. Having a car is also convenient for exploring.
Hervey Bay has a bus service and you can also get around by taxi or Uber.
The ferry to Fraser Island departs from both Inskip Point and Hervey Bay.
The weather can change fast, especially on Fraser Island, so check updates and have an umbrella on hand.
Dingoes are native to Fraser Island, but are unlikely to pose a threat if you stick to populated areas and follow all regulations and ranger instructions.