20 awesome things to do with kids on the Fraser Coast
What do humpback whales; calm, warm waters; and Mary Poppins have in common? They can all be found in Hervey Bay – aka the heart of the Fraser Coast.
Not only does it lay out the perfect welcome mat to the World Heritage-listed Fraser Island, but Hervey Bay is known as Queensland’s whale-watching capital. This is the only place in the world where the whales stay and play longer than school holidays ever last for.
But it’s not all breaching and fin-slapping here, with plenty of on-land activities the whole family can get in on. Here are 20 top things to do with kids on the Fraser Coast.
1. Stroll the Esplanade
Hervey Bay is blessed with kilometres and kilometres of parkland, bike paths and sandy shores overlooking the still waters of the bay.
Rent bikes and take in the whole length of the 14km long pathway from Urangan to Gatakers Bay, or break it up into smaller sections and discover piers, views, parks and playgrounds along the way.
2. Splish splash at Wetside Water Park
Your kids will flip when they see this water park. And your wallet will do cartwheels too since it’s FREE!
Designed to be “infotainment” to educate visitors on water sustainability in a fun environment; between the splash park and boardwalks you’ll find hundreds of messages about water safety, accessibility, and reliability. While this info might be a little over the kids’ heads, parents can still hope for a bit of osmosis learning.
For families with kids under five, the Totside area of the park is designed specifically with little ones in mind. Big kids are in luck too, with the Flipside BoardRider open for those who want to give surfing a go (small cost involved).
3. Go fish!
Take your little anglers to fish off one of the small jetties along Hervey Bay’s Esplanade or walk out to the end of Urangan Pier (approx. 1km long), where fishermen (and women) catch garfish, whiting, bream, flathead up to big fish like Trevally and Blue Fin Tuna.
Even if you don’t reel anything in, your kids will be entertained peering into the water and watching what others catch.
4. Venture north to Burrum Coast National Park
North of the Hervey Bay and Maryborough area you’ll find Burrum Heads, home to Burrum Coast National Park. While you wouldn’t want to try all of the walking trails at this park with kids, several of the boardwalks are perfect for little feet and inquisitive minds.
5. Duck into the Arkarra Lagoon, Hervey Bay
Arkarra is an Aboriginal word meaning “place of many ducks”. It’s a great spot to bring your picnic lunch and walk any of the signed tracks around the lagoon.
The area is home to over 170 species of birds, goannas, echidnas, wallabies, turtles, eels, fish species and of course, ducks!
6. Meet Mary Poppins
It won’t take a spoonful of sugar to get your kids excited to do this! Visit the heritage-listed bank building in Maryborough where the author of Mary Poppins, P.L. Travers, was born in 1899.
Take a photo with the life-sized statue of the original Supernanny and have the kids bring a crayon and notebook to make rubbings of the ten Mary Poppins characters that are etched on the brick plinths, located at the Town Hall Green.
7. Teach your kids to speak whale
Hervey Bay is THE place for migrating humpback whales to be seen from July to October each year. The warm, calm waters of the bay create a detour for whales to come rest, socialise and play, while we get a soul-stirring up-close encounter with one of the biggest marine animals on the planet.
Warning: you might have to pick your kids’ jaws off the floor when they witness their first breach! Suss out the various tour operators in the region to decide which vessel is the best fit for your crew with the help of this guide.
8. Visit Fraser Island
Fraser Island, just a 45-minute ferry ride from Hervey Bay, is one of five World Heritage-listed natural playgrounds in Queensland. For families who like the great outdoors, pack your camping gear and head off the grid for some 4×4-ing and epic stargazing.
For those looking for a more civilised stay, Kingfisher Bay Resort has all the modern conveniences for a family including two full-service restaurants, a resort-style pool and tours to get you out and about on the island.
No matter your accommodation style, Fraser Island has your holiday activity schedule sorted. Take a 4×4 drive through the rainforest, snap the rusty Maheno shipwreck, tube down freshwater Eli Creek, visit Lake McKenzie, spot dingos, go fishing, or hike along the Fraser Island Great Walk. This is just the beginning folks, there are heaps of other free things to do on the island that your kids will love.
9. Calling history buffs
Give your kids a taste of the olden days at the Hervey Bay Historical Village. Over 20 historical buildings have been gathered here, including a slab house, schoolroom, railway station, church and more.
Come on a Sunday for the full, hands-on experience with volunteers dressed up in period clothes demonstrating old-time crafts like blacksmithing and woodworking.
10. Discover the Fraser Coast
If you don’t have time to see everything on the Fraser Coast, you can still immerse your family in the diversity of the region at the Fraser Coast Discovery Sphere.
Here it’s easy to weave a little education into your holiday with an impressive, full-size humpback whale skeleton replica and children’s activities like marine life arts and crafts and storytelling. Don’t forget the obligatory family selfie next to Nala the giant whale out front.
11. Cowboy up at Susan River Homestead
You can make an entire holiday at Susan River Homestead. But even if you’re not staying on the property, you can get involved in their family-friendly activities – most notably horse riding for anyone over the age of four.
The property prides itself on providing a range of ponies and horses so that even a young first-timer will feel safe and enjoy the ride. If horses aren’t your thing, they also have a private lake with jet-skiing, water skiing and wakeboarding available as well as BBQ picnic areas, a resort pool, and tennis courts.
12. Hand-feed the dolphins of Tin Can Bay
This bucket list item is easy to tick off when you visit the Fraser Coast. Only about an hour’s drive south of Hervey Bay, you and your budding marine biologists can get up close to the resident humpback dolphins of Tin Can Bay at Barnacles Dolphin Centre and Cafe.
Feeding time is early – 8am – but the cost makes the early start forgivable. At only $10 per person, this is an easy addition to your itinerary. Bonus: No deciding where to have breakfast; eat while you wait!
13. Satisfy your need for speed
For a fun half-day outing, race around Hervey Bay Go Kart Track then cool off for a few hours slip-sliding your way down the 120-metre water slide.
Children must be two years old to ride in a tandem go-kart with an over-18 driver, but nine-year-olds plus can drive their own. Kids and tots of all ages can ride the water slide.
14. Take the ultimate
road sand trip: Great Beach Drive
Stretching 200kms from Noosa on the Sunshine Coast to Maryborough on the Fraser Coast, it’s a road trip like no other. Ditch the highway for beach with window seat views of the surf and sandy headlands.
15. See under the sea
Observe the world under the waves at the all-natural Reefworld Aquarium, located on the foreshore of Hervey Bay, near the Urangan Pier.
Complete with sharks, green sea turtles, large reef fish, crabs and experiences like the hands-on touch tank and participatory marine life feedings throughout the day, this aquarium will leave your kids happy as clams.
16. Be a day tripper
Discover the Southern Great Barrier Reef in all its glory just steps from the coral beach at Lady Elliot Island. Start your day on a scenic, half-hour flight from Hervey Bay before beginning your fully-guided experience on the island.
This kid-friendly tour takes you snorkelling with the turtles in the shallow lagoon, spotting manta rays on a glass-bottom boat around the island, and provides a buffet lunch your little explorers are sure to gobble up after all that activity. Kids under 12 qualify for a discounted child rate.
17. Get wild about the Fraser Coast
Fraser Island is home to the purest strain of dingo remaining in Australia but you don’t have to visit the island to get close to one.
The Fraser Coast Wildlife Sanctuary is home to many dingos, including an albino! That’s not all you’ll see there either – wallabies, echidnas, birds, snakes and other critters will welcome your crew with open paws.
18. Water babies wanted
With the calm waters of Hervey Bay at your feet, now’s the perfect time to try some water sports – kite surfing, paddle boarding, and kayaking are all popular Hervey Bay activities.
The shallow, surf-free water makes it less intimidating for the young ones to give something new a go. If you don’t have your own gear, try Enzo’s on the Beach for rentals.
19. Full steam ahead
Every Thursday the Mary Ann Steam Engine – a replica of the first steam engine built in Queensland – chugs her visitors around Maryborough’s Queens Park.
Timed to coincide with the Maryborough Heritage Markets, you can make a day out of it by grabbing a bite at a local café or browsing the 120 stalls of local produce, original hand-made crafts, artwork and other unique items.
20. Got a green thumb?
If you’re looking for a change of scenery from the beach, grab a picnic blanket, pick a shady spot at the lagoon and relax while the kids spot fish, dragonflies, ducks and turtles at the Hervey Bay Botanic Gardens.
Explore the tranquil garden walkways and then take a peek at the Orchid House. Entrance to the gardens is free, but the Orchid House requires a small fee of $2.50 (includes a cup of tea or coffee).
When will your family visit the Fraser Coast?
*This post was originally published in 2016 and updated in March 2018.