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, refreshed 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, get yourself to the Bay for a serve of sun, sand and seafood with this foodie-friendly 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 regular 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 Enzo’s
Once you’ve made it into the Bay, fuel up at seaside-side beauty, Enzo’s on the Beach. With its recent renovation making the most of the ocean views, Enzo’s is a must-do for breakfast, lunch or even sundowners out on the deck. Find a spot outside (the bean bags are guaranteed to transform you into holiday mode), sip your perfectly peachy iced tea and breathe with the calm waves as they lap the beach.
2pm: Check into your accommodation
For a room with a view, check into Mantra Hervey Bay, overlooking the marina and Great Sandy Strait. Aside from the normal Mantra comforts, you’ll have a sizeable balcony to make the most of the birds-eye-view of the yacht hardware bobbing around in the marina below. BreakFree Great Sandy Straits is another great option if you’re hunting for accommodation around the marina.
If you’re spending most of your weekend by the beach, rest your head at Aqua Aqua Luxury Apartments (this penthouse -style accommodation is right above the Vinyard Wine Bar and Restaurant) in Urangan or Grand Mecure Allegra Apartments in Torquay.
5pm: 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 – served with parsley, lemon and caper butter.
Even though the menu is made for sharing, this writer suggests going it solo on the desserts. The banana split is one of those fabled deserts you won’t want to go halfskis with ANYONE.
6:00am: 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 breakfast 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.
If you’re keen to hit up another local fave with all-day breakky options, grab a table at Bayorama in Torquay.
7.30am: Day Trip to Fraser Island
It would be remiss to come to Hervey Bay and not step foot on the world’s largest sand island, Fraser Island. So head to the World Heritage-listed site to see what all the fuss is about. While there’re plenty of ways to see Fraser in a day, Tasman Venture’s Remote Island Tours 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.
Keep an eye out if you are visiting from June until October as you’ll share your commute from Hervey Bay to Fraser with some mum and bub humpback whales. Squeeze in a whale watch if you can.
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.
If you’d rather stick to beachside dining (that someone else has prepared), grab a coldie and a classic pub meal at the Beach House Hotel in Scarness.
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.
This place is 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.
How would you spend a long weekend in Hervey Bay?
This post was originally published in 2015 and updated in July 2019.