48 hours of eating and exploring in Hervey Bay
Ibiza, Rio and Cancun might be where you go to beach part-ay, but when you want a beach holiday that leaves you relaxed, tanned and more energised than a green juice with a double shot of spirulina, give me Hervey Bay any day.
I should know, I’ve got more Hervey Bay stamps in my Queensland passport than most. I’m lured by its waterfront views, good coffee and promise of the freshest scallops in Australia.
If you’ve got a long weekend up your sleeve, we suggest you get yourself to the Bay for a serve of sun, sand and seafood with this itinerary:
7am: Hit the road to Hervey Bay
Only in Queensland would a highway answer to Bruce. Regardless of whether you’re coming from north or south to Hervey Bay, you’ll need to spend some time getting acquainted with Bruce in all his tarmac glory.
From Brisbane, it’s 290 clicks to Hervey Bay, but kilometre-counters should note, it will take closer to four hours once you factor in loo stops and snack breaks.
11am: Stretch your legs in Maryborough
Detour your Mary Poppins loving self to Maryborough on your way to the Bay for a walk around the city that inspired PL Travers to pen a story about a flying nanny, dancing penguins and a music-making chimney sweep.
Aside from a number of namesake cafes, murals and daily Poppins tours, it’s the town’s architecture that brings the Mary-magic to life. Spot the similarities between this quaint town and the Disney film, in particular, City Hall’s bell tower, the miniature railway that cuts through Queens Park and footpath chalk drawings that are so beautiful, we think Bert could have drawn them himself.
1pm: Stop in for coffee and a bite to eat at School House Espresso
If you like your sweet treats healthy and your coffee strong, don’t bypass School House Espresso on your way into Hervey Bay from Maryborough. Open from 7am-4pm, this coffee house has your little lunch and big lunch needs sorted with a glass cabinet packed with delicious treats including salads and sandwiches for $7.
We think the fit out is A+, from the bubbler at the back, school lockers on the wall, and ‘yes/no’ rubber at the counter, every little detail gives a nod to the coffee shop’s namesake.
2pm: Check into your accommodation
For a room with a view, check into Mantra Hervey Bay, overlooking the marina and Great Sandy Straight. Aside from the normal Mantra comforts, you’ll have a sizeable balcony to breathe in the sea air and take in a bird’s-eye-view of the yacht hardware bobbing around in the marina below.
3pm: Make waves with AquaVue
Hervey Bay might be sleepy, but no one said it was boring. Get the adrenalin pumping with Aquavue, the water sport specialists in Hervey Bay who run jet-ski tours to Moon Point on Fraser Island.
Show the calm water of Hervey Bay what waves look like from the back of a jet-ski, and check out the epic geology of Fraser Island from the water.
If you’re thinking about taking a ski out, take my advice and leave your sunglasses at home. I’m sure I’m not the only person to have lost their lenses to the Great Sandy Straight.
6pm: Take a sunset stroll along the Urangan Pier
Built in the early 1900s to facilitate sugar, coal and timber export, today the Urangan Pier pylons serve a much greater purpose – fishing. Pop down with your rod and reel to join the fishermen who come here in the quest of a catch. The abundance of fish cleaning stations and seagulls circling the pier is good evidence that your afternoon efforts won’t be fruitless.
If you’re not hooked on fishing, this is one of the prettiest walks in the Fraser Coast and there’s 2km of flat, wooden boardwalk to meander down. A walk at sunset is a great way to work up an appetite for dinner and when you know what’s in store, you might want to do the walk twice.
7:30pm: Dinner at Coast
You won’t be the only person to ride the wave to dining hotspot, Coast. This restaurant has been a Hervey Bay favourite since it opened its plantation shutters, with share plates and postcard-worthy views of the bay.
If you like your lamb slow cooked and pork belly crackly, Coast is where you can tuck into Michelin-esq cuisine, in a casual, coastal atmosphere. If there’s one thing to do before leaving Hervey Bay – it’s tuck into the fresher than fresh Hervey Bay Scallops – lightly flavoured with parsley, lemon and caper butter.
Even though the menu is made for sharing, this writer suggests going it solo on the deserts. The banana split is one of those fabled deserts you won’t want to go halfskis with ANYONE.
6:30am: Have an early breakfast at Eat at Dan & Steph’s
When in Hervey Bay, do as the Hervey Bay-ians do and have breakfast with My Kitchen Rules (season four) winners Dan & Steph at their aptly named cafe – Eat at Dan & Steph’s.
Not only are Dan & Steph the nicest chefs I’ve ever met (and I worked in lots of kitchens during university days) but I am a big fan of an all day menu. In my book, it’s always the right time for pulled pork or tacos.
Dan’s passion for snags shines on the menu – and if you’re feeling ravenous – the sausage spaghetti is where it’s at.
8am: Day Trip to Fraser Island with Tasman Venture
It would be remiss to come to Hervey Bay and not step foot on the world’s largest sand island, Fraser Island, so today is about getting onto the World Heritage-listed site to see what all the fuss is about. There’re plenty of ways to see Fraser in a day, but I particularly like Tasman Venture’s Remote Island Tours because your mode of transport is boat rather than bus.
This tour is all about Fraser’s natural assets – coloured sands, crystal-clear creeks and national park walks – and the remote western side of the island certainly knows how to show them off.
If you are wondering about what’s for lunch, brace yourself for a legendary potato salad on board this vessel. Lloyd Burgess – owner, skipper and potato salad king makes a comforting, creamy carb-fest that’s part of the BBQ lunch spread. Trust me when I say, it’s not to be missed.
6pm: Finish the day with a taste of Italy at Villa Cavour with a cooking class
They’re a long way from their Piemonte roots but Mara and Rocco have turned their Point Vernon abode into little Italy. These two restaurateur-sweethearts bring years of kitchen credentials from the mountains of Italy to Hervey Bay and run a cooking class out of their Hervey Bay Bed & Breakfast, Villa Cavour.
If you like anything and everything to do with pasta – a Villa Cavour cooking class is as good as it gets. Rocco is the Michaelangelo of Italian cooking – making pasta works of art with local ingredients like Hervey Bay scallops and prawns. True to Italian form, he lets the flavours do the talking so the soft seafood flavours shine among sharp olive oil and fresh parmesan- simply delicious.
Rocco will ensure you’re sitting down to a quality meal come dinner time and Mara has an equally important job… she’s in charge of making sure your wines match your meal. Chin Chin!
9am: Fuel up (with coffee) before hitting the road
They say good things come in small packages and Minimalist Coffee Roasters is no exception. This little coffee roaster in Bideford Street is where any self-respecting coffee snob should go in Hervey Bay.
What I love about this place is that they’re very clear about what they stand for. The menu reads: no extra hot, no mugs, no sugar, no syrups, no extra costs. So if you like a vanilla latte with half a twist of god knows what, take your business elsewhere.
My pick for a heart-starter is ‘the motivator’, a single espresso over a dollop of cream. It’s so delish, I can see why the Americans have been drinking creamy coffee for years.
10am: Say your last goodbyes to the beach by taking a walk along Scarness Beach
The weekend might be coming to a close, but don’t resist the opportunity to put the sand between your toes once more with a stroll along Scarness Beach.
Pack your togs because swimming in Hervey Bay is a must – the sheltered conditions in the bay mean you can bob around like an apple in the calm water without any risk of being dumped by a wave.