Categories
Australia

Whalesong Cruises Hervey Bay – Review

We’ve done several whale tours in Hervey Bay now and spending time around these fascinating and gentle giants of the ocean is always a special day. One of our most recent trips was with Whalesong Cruises and in this review we take you along with us on the half-day morning tour.

We love the Fraser Coast for so many reasons but if there is one must-do experience here it is a whale cruise. The tour boats run from late July through to October when the humpback whales are passing through on their migration route from Antarctica to the Great Barrier Reef.

Humpback whales of Fraser Island
Two of the three young whales that stayed checking us out for over 20 minutes

There are a lot of different whale cruises operating out of Hervey Bay and if you’ve just arrived in town it can be hard to choose between them. The pricing is quite similar across the range but the inclusions and experience can vary a lot. Knowing a bit more about the individual companies and cruises can make the decision a bit easier.

We’ve done several whale tours now both in Hervey Bay and in the wider region including northern New South Wales, the Gold Coast and Brisbane. For transparency, this review is independent, other than being a customer we have no connection with Whalesong Cruises or any of the other operators in the bay.

Humpback whale in Hervey Bay

We took the cruise in the beginning of August, this is early in the season and we booked knowing that there will likely be less whales around now than later in the month. At the start of the season, they are pretty much all heading north, a few more weeks and you will start to get some overlap between those headed north and south. You’ll have a better chance of seeing the females with calves, the adult males will get more boisterous and be more visible from the surface.

Preparing for your whale cruise

We like to leave booking our whale cruise until a day or two before to give us the best chance of picking good weather and wind conditions out on the bay. The cruises stay in the shelter of Fraser Island but it’s a big body of water and it can definitely get a bit choppy when the wind gets up.

We booked the cruise through an online booking agent as we do for most of our tours and tickets. We find that gets us the best deal. Even if it is the same list price as booking direct there are often discount codes from a promotion or a booking reward on your next purchase. We booked the Whalesong Cruise with Get your Guide the day before and it was a perfectly smooth process providing an instant e-ticket to my phone that allowed a fully contactless check-in process.

Humpback whale in Hervey Bay

There isn’t much you need to bring with you but I’d suggest a jacket that is much warmer than you think you’ll need. It’s usually comfortable to wear a tee-shirt during the day at this time of year on the Fraser Coast but the chill factor on a moving boat is significant. You’ll also want to wear sunscreen and a hat, the reflected UV off the water will burn faster too. Other things to consider are a camera, seasick tablets and a bottle of water.

The Whalesong tour leaves from the Great Sandy Straits Marina in Hervey Bay. You can request a complimentary pick-up when you book and they’ll collect you and return you to your accommodation or you can drive to the marina as we did. There is a huge free car park opposite with parking suitable for camper vans up to midsized motorhomes.

If you come in the main entrance to the marina you’ll walk through to the water and around to the left passing Cafe Balaena and turning into the mall, they are at the end of the right. It’s not far, only a couple of minutes walk.

The team are really friendly and will check you in here and direct you down to the boat for boarding. All up a very smooth process.

Out on the water with Whalesong Cruises

We picked a spot on the upstairs deck for the trip out, there is a cabin in the centre behind the skipper, bench seating at the back and room to stand around the railings on the rear deck and move around halfway down the sides. There is no front access from here.

Downstairs there is a large front and back deck with an inside cabin that includes the bar. You can move completely around the boat or up the stairs to the left. You can walk around the boat during the course of the day as much or little as you want to get a good view or find a comfortable spot.

The licenced bar sells snacks, alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. There is also a toilet on each level.

Whalesong boat

As we headed out from the marina towards the northern end of Fraser Island the crew delivered coffee, tea and hot chocolate around the boat. It was very welcome to warm up from the inside with an 8 am departure. There was also morning tea a little later with platters of fruit and cake being brought around by the crew.

One thing we did note was that later in the cruise when we went to get a second coffee we were told no even though their marketing material says hot drinks are available complimentary throughout the cruise.

We also missed out on lunch, possibly because we were out of sight down the side upstairs. I’ll take responsibility and say maybe we were mesmerised by the whales but neither of us heard any announcement and by the time we realised others had a plate of food and we went down to get some it had been packed up.

The cruise ticket including lunch is one of the selling points for this tour over other morning tours, so you might want to either position yourself on the downstairs deck or just keep watch for signs of food from 11.30 am. From what we saw and heard, the lunch was good with cold roast chicken, rolls and a variety of fresh salads.

Whales are of course wild animals, they run to their own agenda and it’s a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack out there so we were really excited when within 45 minutes of leaving the mooring we were on our first pod of 3 young whales.

They came in close to the boat to take a look at the captive humans, doing lazy rollovers and swimming under and around the boat for 20 minutes. This is what’s called a ‘mugging’ and you consider yourself very lucky to see so much up close activity although it’s not unusual in our experience out on the bay.

Watching the whales from Whalesong Cruise

Doug, our skipper gave some good commentary on their behaviour and whales in general while Rick, one of the crew, was very active as the ‘whale whisperer’ throughout the trip spotting the spouts and creating plenty of noise and movement to get the whales attention.

Although they are competitors the boats work together sharing locations giving everyone a better experience, smaller private boats also closed in fairly quickly once one of the tour boats were on a pod.

We came across several other pods throughout the morning, two adults were busy chasing each other they weren’t paying too much attention to us but it let us have a good view of behaviours such as bubble blowing which apparently is a form of communication and the ‘footprint’ left when they dive. The young whale travelling with them was more inquisitive and stayed closer to the surface.

Humpback whale comes in for a closer look

At another point we were nearby as a small boat got mugged with a whale spying hopping right up alongside them, its eye coming up taller than they were to get a good look and then gliding past on its side just metres from them.

Why is Hervey Bay so good for whale watching?

The reason the whales migrate from Antarctica up to the tropical waters around the Great Barrier Reef each year is for the breeding season. The baby whales are born without a protective layer of blubber and could not survive those first few months in the freezing Antarctic waters so the Mums need a tropical holiday to give birth and the babies to nurse, grow and learn the skills they need for the return journey.

The gestation period for female whales is a year and they are ready to breed again within a couple of weeks of giving birth which means you’ll see plenty of the large bulls competing for their attention and demonstrating superiority over other males in the area. This is when you’ll see most of the dramatic breaching and huge splashes as they lift their full body weight clear of the water.

Whales don’t reach maturity until around 6-10 years old but the younger ones still join the migration. These young whales often seem to be the ones that show the most interest in the whale watching boats. They move around in small groups and stay with a boat for a longer period of time diving under it, spy-hopping to get a good look at what’s going on and often putting on quite the show right alongside.

It’s not fully understood why but individual humpback whales often stay in the bay for 3 to 8 days before moving on, this is one of the big differences going out to see them here. When we see them along the rest of the east coast they are focused on moving steadily either north or south, you get some great views and they’ll still check out the boats but they seem more relaxed in Hervey Bay and in no real rush.

Avoiding getting seasick on a whale tour?

If you have any tendency to get seasick and feel a bit nervous about heading out on one of the boats there are a few precautions to take and it can be well worth being prepared. As much as possible pick the day for your tour around the weather and especially the wind conditions. If you aren’t confident with reading the forecast a quick phone call to your preferred boat and they’ll be able to tell you which days over the next week are looking best.

There is a range of seasick tablets on the market including some natural options. Most need to be taken around half an hour before you get on the boat. They are inexpensive and I generally take them as a precaution. There’s also an acupressure band option that you wear on your wrist that some people swear by.

The boat you are on and where you settle yourself on the boat can also have an impact. In general the bigger the boat the less you will feel the motion and the more options you will have to find a spot towards the middle where the sway is less. For me, the big thing is staying out in the fresh air so a boat with plenty of deck space is good, even if that means wrapping up in a jacket to stay warm.

Final thoughts on our Whalesong Cruise

We had a fantastic 5 hours out on the bay with the Whalesong crew. The boat wasn’t crowded although it was a popular choice and we were able to move easily around finding a spot on the rail with a good view for most of the action throughout the day.

Humpback whale puts his head up

We got a decent number of whale sightings including close up muggings of the boat by several of them. It’s not the most active we’ve seen the waters around Hervey Bay but they are wild animals so you can’t rate a cruise by what you see or don’t see on a particular day.

As one of the smaller boats in the Hervey Bay fleet, it’s a small group experience and that leads to better interaction amongst those on board. The crew are both knowledgeable and friendly, ready to answer any whale or local questions you might have.


If you have questions that we haven’t answered here or in our Whale Watching in Hervey Bay article and detailed regional guide then please ask in the comments below.


If you found this article useful please consider saving it to Pinterest. It makes it easy for you to find again, it helps us, and it helps other travellers to find the information they are looking for.

Categories
Australia

The best ice cream – Hervey Bay to Bundaberg

In search of Wide Bays best ice cream? Hervey Bay to Bundaberg, Maryborough and Childers, we’ve searched out the best in gelato and frozen treats.

Our list topping favourites offer a product that is full of flavour and deliciously creamy. They are artisan-made by local producers and give more than a nod to the makers and growers of this fabulous food bowl region. This is the scoop, which ones have you tried?

The best ice cream in Hervey Bay and Bundaberg

Rather than pick a favourite I decided to bring you along on our ice cream crawl across the region from Maryborough to Hervey Bay and north to Bundaberg via Childers. It was a tough choice to narrow it down but we think we have the best of the best here for your next fix and it’s well worth a minor detour on your next road trip to stop in at a few of these!

These top gelato and ice cream shops don’t serve up mass-produced frozen desserts, you’ll find a lot of local expertise, regional produce, Aussie ingenuity, hard work and love for the finished product that goes into delivering iced treats as good as these.

After extensive taste testing, these are our top spots not to miss when you are next in need of a frozen fix!

Lychee Divine – Maryborough

Located off the Bruce Highway just south of Maryborough, Lychee Divine is perfectly situated for a rest stop on your travels and directly on your way to Hervey Bay from South East Queensland. This satellite retail outlet relocated in 2021 to new purpose-built premises with indoor tables, more display space and outdoor seating on the shady wrap-around deck.

Lychee and ginger icecream stop at Lychee Divine

Lychee Divine is part of Tomarata Orchard in Tairo just down the road. It’s a family business and they are one of the largest lychee growers in Australia.

Even with early and late season varieties planted, fresh lychees are only available from mid-December until mid-February so to extend the flavour throughout the year they’ve created a range of products. The preserves and vinegar, wines and liqueurs are all raved about by their fans. My personal favourite is their lychee balsamic vinegar to use as a fast and delicious dressing.

Their range of lychee ice cream is made locally by a boutique producer on the Sunshine Coast and all centre around the delicious lychees. Served in a cone or tub, the plain lychee is very good but the range has expanded and my top pick is the lychee and ginger. They are deliciously creamy with tiny bits of real fruit giving texture.

Sundae’s on the Pier, Urangan

Sundaes on the Pier is a popular spot for a coffee or ice cream after a walk on the historic Urangan Pier. We’ve been coming to this one for years but it changed ownership in late 2020 and the new owners are lovely.

The great range of gelato is made on the Sunshine Coast by Maleny Food Company. They produce their gelato and sorbet in the artisan style. The rich Guernsey milk and cream is sourced from a local family farm and then fresh natural ingredients are added also sourced within the region where possible.

The result is a delicious gelato with an extensive range of flavours. My personal favourite is lychee, hot ginger and chocolate but I’m easily persuaded to have a second scoop to keep trying out the range of flavours.

Gelateria Pasticceria Caffateria Santini

While many on our list are inspired by the local Australian produce and lifestyle, Mel and Greg set out to create a creamy, authentic Italian gelato that wouldn’t be out of place in Rome or Florence.

Gelato cups from Gelateria Santini

We love a family business that makes their gelato on-site so set out to try Santini. It’s located at Shelley Beach on the Esplanade in Hervey Bay. I have to admit to finding it a bit of a challenge to stay focused at the counter with the choice of pastries too including some incredible looking custard Cannoli that I am told are made fresh on premises each morning.

I settled on the slightly odd combination of lemon cheesecake and salted caramel while Drew’s pick was a slightly more conventional combo of chocolate and coffee. All four were really great in flavour, texture and richness but I have to say that the lemon cheesecake stood out for being really intense and delicious.

If you’ve wondered what the difference between ice cream and gelato actually is, the Santini team explained it like this; Gelato is made with milk, not cream so the milkfat percentage should be under 8% whereas ice cream is usually 14% – 17%. The lower fat content means the flavours aren’t as diluted so you’ll get a fruitier finish or more intense chocolate. Gelato is also churned at a slower speed meaning it’s denser with less air.

Mamminos, Childers

Mamminos has been around for years, we must have first stopped here with family over 15 years ago, back then there were only one or two flavours but it was characteristically creamy and decadent and the presentation pots that can be eaten as a tub or on a stick are still in use.

The ice cream is churned on-premises and many flavours still feature macadamias which are an increasingly dominant crop in the Bundaberg region, every time we visit lately we seem to notice more sugarcane fields being irrigated and planted out with young trees.

The ginger & macadamia with a hint of vanilla is still my favourite but Drew was tempted with the cuppa-macadamia, a cappuccino nut variation which of course I had to taste and it was darn good too. Six of the range still focus on macadamia nuts but there is also a range of fruit and other options and two sorbets that are gluten and dairy-free.

Tinaberries, Innes Park

Winter is strawberry season in Queensland and it came early this year so we detoured out to Tinaberries on our way back from Bargara. It was a bit late in the day to get fresh berries but there was time to enjoy one of their fabulous ice creams created from fruit like strawberries and passionfruit grown on the farm and others like lime and dragonfruit that are sourced nearby.

Tinaberries ice creams in Bundaberg

We choose to stick with their homegrown fruit, the original strawberry and tangy passionfruit. It was actually Tina who first clued me in on how to eat a passionfruit without a knife or spoon, an essential Queensland skill that I make sure to practice at every opportunity.

There’s plenty of parking and a number of areas to sit to eat your ice cream. For the kids, there’s games, pets and room to run around. During the strawberry season, you can also take the opportunity to purchase punnets of fresh fruit or pick your own once the season is well underway.

Alowichus Delicious, Bundaberg

I’ve made a few stops at Alowichus Delicious over the years. Their Bundaberg cafe is on the main drag through town and a few years back when Tracey and Mike felt the draw to expand into gelato the stars aligned and they managed to pick up the shop directly opposite to expand into. Clearly, it was meant to be.

Alowishus gelato

This is where the magic happens. They bring together their mad gelato skills and the diverse range of fresh produce from the surrounding food bowl to make delicious creamy gelato that reflects all that is good and local.

It’s hard to pick a favourite from a range this size, they are also constantly experimenting so I wouldn’t want to limit my future options but

You’ll also find their gelato at regional foodie events, markets and now their store in Maryborough. I do have to admit that I’ve been spotted queueing at their adorable relocatable ice cream cart more than once.

Windmill Cafe, Bargara

Located in the heart of Bargara, just a block back from the beach is the distinctive Windmill Cafe. In addition to its diverse breakfast and lunch menu, the gelateria counter offers a wide range of flavours from the Nannas Pantry range all made locally in Bundaberg utilising local produce. In the range, you’ll also find dairy-free sorbet, gluten-free options and rich creamy flavours.

Ice creams by Nanas Pantry Bundaberg at the Windmill Cafe

We popped in recently and enjoyed a selection from the range including the rich dark chocolate, mint chip, Mon Repo which featured refreshing pear and ginger and what could be more iconically Bundy than a rum and raisin? If you are having trouble making your choice they’ll also offer your a taster to make it easier.


So who did we miss? Do you have a favourite ice cream shop, maker or flavour we need to try out for a place on the list?

If you found this article useful please consider saving it to Pinterest. It makes it easy for you to find again, it helps us, and it helps other travellers to find the information they are looking for.

The best icecream wide bay pinterest poster

Categories
Australia

Woodgate Beach | Bundaberg

There’s a lot of good reasons to visit Woodgate Beach. Not only does it offer a stunning 16-kilometre sweep of soft white sand but it backs onto a national park, there’s walking tracks, boat ramps, two great river mouths for fishing, plenty of parklands and facilities for day visitors and you’ll almost certainly spot wild kangaroos chilling under the trees.

Woodgate beach

How to get to Woodgate Beach

Woodgate is located in the greater Bundaberg region. It’s a 40-minute drive south of Bundaberg city and around an hour north of Hervey Bay making it an easy drive from either. That’s well within what we consider a good day trip distance but there is so much to see and do in Woodgate that you might choose to stay for a while and there are a few good options for that too.

Things to do in Woodgate Beach

Woodgate beach might be a chilled-out beachside village but there is a lot to see and do here. We’ve been out here for the day many times and still plan on returning with the motorhome in a couple of months for a longer stay.

Walk the beach

There’s no difficulty getting your daily steps in here. The main Woodgate beach is a wide and gently curved sweep stretching 16 kilometres from the Theodolite river in the north to the Burrum River at the southern end.

It’s equally beautiful all the way along so entirely your preference if you head north or south. This is looking north, you can go around that point on the beach or through the bush at the tip to Theodolite Creek.

Woodgate beach

If you love the sand between your toes and wading in the shallows this is a perfect choice, occasionally you’ll spot a kangaroo in the tree line behind the beach. While the top of the beach is soft fine white sand it packs down as the tide goes out making for easier walking.

Relax and swim on Main Beach

With such an expansive sweep of sand, it’s too easy to find a good section to spread out for the day. There is a beachfront park all the way along from First Avenue to Banksia Park. There are tables and other facilities at intervals all the way along with the main concentration opposite Second Avenue.

Cool Cabana on Woodgate beach

We’ll usually park at the southern end in the Banksia Park car park. You can walk directly out onto the sand from here and behind in the park there are picnic tables and other facilities.

We only picked up this Cool Cabana sun shelter earlier this year but it’s been fantastic for extending our time on the sand.

Visit the locals favourite, Theodolite Creek

The first time we drove out here was late in the day and on a high tide, the midges were biting and we didn’t fully appreciate Theodolite Creeks incredible beauty.

Theodolite Creek

We’ve been back many times since and it really is a stunning spot on the mouth of the river with sparkling turquoise water, soft white sand and a backdrop of bushland and birdsong. The sands swirl and settle creating a host of sand bars and tiny islands and you can walk around the head via the beach or through the bush to rugged solitude or continue further down onto the main Woodgate beach.

For the birders, you’ll find a good range of bush birds and migratory waders out on the sandbanks. It’s the perfect location for a kayak or stand-up paddleboards, and smaller boats can be launched from the beach ramp.

There are toilets, sheltered picnic tables and a large car park that offers options for RV’s during the day, there is no camping here.

Enjoy the Banksia Track and boardwalk

The Banksia track is another Burrum Coast National Park track and is 5.2 km return. There is parking for a couple of cars at the entrance, plenty more along the road but it’s never been busy. The trailhead is almost directly opposite the back of the NRMA Holiday Park, ideal if you are staying there.

The first section is paved through to the boardwalk and that runs for around 400 metres. It seems most people only come out to this point and return once they have their Instagram shot. From here it is a normal dirt track through the open forest of tea trees and palms.

In late winter and early spring, you’ll be able to enjoy the wildflower season and accompanying butterflies. There’s also a good diversity of birdlife.

It’s very quiet and easy walking on the grade 2 track. For more on track ratings for your fitness and equipment see our article on the Australian track grading system.

Stretch the legs on the Melaleuca and Bird Hide Track

The Burrum Coast National Park offers several walking tracks suited to different fitness levels. The Melaleuca Track is 12.3 kilometres long and begins at the Walkers Point day-use area.

There’s a picnic table at the start but for toilet facilities, you’ll need to continue 500 metres back along the road or beach to the boat ramp car park. There are toilets again at the Burrum Point beach camping area which is the turnaround point.

Melaleuca track at Woodgate Beach

The track starts sealed but that continues only for around 500 metres before it reverts to a well-drained sandy dirt track. The early section runs through a variety of vegetation and if you keep watch out to the right you’ll see an active Osprey nest high in a tree out to the right (towards the water). This is the most active and diverse area for birdlife.

The walk progresses through mangroves and across the salt marshes with wildflowers and a variety of halophyte plants that thrive in alkaline, saline conditions. Around 2 kilometres in the path branches, right for the longer track through to the beach and left to the bird hide.

The bird hide is well constructed on the water’s edge set in amongst the mangroves. It was late morning when we visited and not a lot of bird activity but still worth detouring out to even if you are continuing on for the long walk, it’s far off the main trail and returns the same way.

The walk is open and exposed so it can be very hot in summer. Make sure you have good sun protection and plenty of water. Insect repellant and is also a good idea through here, even with it I picked up a few bites

If you are staying at the Burrum Point beach camping area you could do either of these walks in reverse, both are signposted from that end too.

Look out for the mobs of Kangaroos

We’ve not seen as many kangaroos around the village as we have in previous years when they were regularly spotted relaxing and grazing in peoples gardens, parks and even the beachfront.

Wild kangaroos

There is still a good population in the adjacent Burrum National Park and you’ll still see them from time to time in open grassed blocks and the park but you need to look a bit harder.

The most likely time to see kangaroos is around dawn and dusk when they are out in the open grazing, during the day they are more likely to be stretched out under a tree somewhere.

Get out on the water

If you are planning to get out on the water in your boat or jetski there are three boat ramps to choose from in Woodgate. The first is at the northern end of The Esplanade, it’s a concrete ramp but is only suited for high tide access unless you are confident launching from the sand when the tide is out.

The most popular option is into the mouth of the Burrum River. Follow the Walkers Point Road around from the southern end of The Esplanade. Facilities here include the all tides ramp, toilets and a large car park.

There’s a third option which is the beach access at Theodolite Creek, it’s most suited to small boats and jet skis. This is directly off the sand with a launching pad of stabilizing panels set into the sand. It’s not suitable on all tides and depending on the weather and tide it can have a significant cross current impact here.

The Great Sandy Marine Park attracts many with an interest in marine wildlife. There are two significant features here that contribute to marine biodiversity in the area.

The first is the seagrass meadows that attract dugong and sea turtles. The other is the 1200-year-old ‘4-mile reef’ located around 5 kilometres offshore between Elliot Heads and Theodolite Creek. The reef supports significant hard and soft coral growth, reef sharks, sponges and fish communities. It is estimated to be around 1200 years old.

Many humpback whales also pass by here between July and October each year on their annual migration from Antarctica to the Great Barrier Reef for the breeding season.

Enjoy a spot of fishing

Woodgate is popular for fishing both from a boat and from the beach. The most popular and apparently successful spots are at the river mouth at either end of Woodgate.

Recreational fisherman in the area target species including bream, whiting, flathead, grunter, mangrove jack, estuary cod, tarpon, trevally, prawns and crabs.

Spot native and migratory birds

For those with an interest in wildlife, there’s a great range of birdlife to be seen in Woodgate Beach. The habitat provided by the national park, salt marshes, rivers, mangroves, beaches and lagoon makes for great diversity. Add to that its position along the migratory route for waders making their way down from the northern hemisphere winter including Japan, China and Siberia.

Give Stand up Paddleboarding or kayaking a try

The beaches here are often quite calm in the shelter of Fraser Island but Theodolite Creek between the sand islands would be our pick to give SUP and kayaking a go. While the currents do move through here as a tidal river mouth it is usually quite flat and incredibly pretty.

If you don’t have your own you can rent a kayak, SUP or bike from Woodgate Beach Toys on Third Avenue by the hour, day or multiple days.

Beach camping

For those with 4-wheel drives beach camping at the mouth of the Burrum River is popular. You will need a high clearance vehicle equipped for driving on the sand to get out here but at the time of writing no permit was required, you can check for current booking and access information on the Queensland Parks and Forest website.

There are around a dozen campsites suited to tents or off-road camper trailers. On-site facilities include toilets and cold showers.

First Avenue Lagoon and boardwalk

Another spot for a walk around the Woodgate salt marshes is over the boardwalk and follow the path alongside the lagoon.

First avenue lagoon and boardwalk

It’s nestled in behind the residential area so not immediately obvious but offers another interesting ecosystem to explore.

Where to stay on Woodgate Beach

You won’t find major hotel chains or towering apartments shading the beach at Woodgate. What you will find is a variety of holiday homes for rent and the Woodgate Beach Caravan Park which offers the full range of tent and RV sites plus cabins and villas directly across from the beach. This one was very clean and well presented and the position is perfectly located between the beach on one side and the National Park behind.


Woodgate Beach is one of several favourite beachside spots in the area. If you are visiting or passing through you should find some other top spots and hidden gems in our Bundaberg guide and for the foodies, these great Bundy cafes are worth a visit.

If you found this article useful please consider saving it to Pinterest. It makes it easy for you to find again, it helps us, and it helps other travellers to find the information they are looking for.

Categories
Australia

The best Uluru dinner experiences

Before arriving at Ayers Rock most people have a fair idea of how they will fill their days. What surprised me was the highlight that a special Uluru dinner can add to your experience. These are our top picks.


Uluru, or Ayers Rock as it was previously known, has an almost magnetic pull on visitors drawing both local and international travellers into the Red Centre. The rock has stood here for 300 million years, it’s an iconic sight, peaceful, spiritual and as I and stood beneath it looking up, it’s more than a little awe-inspiring.

Having our most recognised natural landmark on your bucket list as an Australian is almost universal and for international visitors, the ‘travel triangle’ of Sydney, Uluru and Far North Queensland is one of the most popular itineraries.

Uluru

While the main reason for visiting is undoubtedly Uluru itself, the foodie experiences here could be considered a very close second when deciding to add it to your travel plans. If you’d wondered what you were going to eat in the middle of the desert our experience was more creative, full of flavour and delicious than I could have imagined.

The introduction to local delicacies and discovering ways of preparing and incorporating a new ingredient are among the great joys of travelling for me and Uluru definitely pushed my thinking on Australian indigenous foods.

In Australian food culture the focus is on an abundance of fresh and delicious ingredients combined in a fusion of cooking styles and flavour profiles that reflect the diverse cultural background of Australians. The food at Ayers Rock Resort incorporates the best of modern Australian cuisine while using indigenous bush tucker to create something that is truly delicious, unique and Australian.

Bush tucker in Australia

Indigenous Australians are one of the oldest human cultures on the planet.  Genetics has shown us that they arrived in Australia at least 40,000 years ago and over the generations have established not only what can and should be eaten from the local environment, but how to protect that land and food supply for later years and generations.

The diversity of indigenous foods came as quite a surprise. Vanessa Grace, Executive Chef at Ayers Rock Resort gave us our first introduction to the many special indigenous ingredients they regularly make use of in the menu. I found it interesting here that rather than use a strong ingredient almost as a garnish or overpowered it with other flavours as we’ve often experienced, the culinary team here spend time studying and experimenting with different preparations, figuring out what works together and tfrom that they create flavour profiles that draw out the unique attributes of each. It’s a gourmet food experience with a unique twist.

Bush Tucker greens at Ayers Rock Resort

Sourcing the bush tucker ingredients is also given a lot of consideration, it’s done with a focus on supporting local communities, being sustainable over the long term while also being gentle on the environment. An unexpected addition to one dessert was green ants. As someone who heads rapidly in the other direction when I spot a green ant nest overhead, it took a bit to get my head around swallowing them. Anyone who has been bitten by one of the little blighters can tell you they sting and burn like the blazes when they nip you. These however were baked into a shard of sweet meringue and while I didn’t personally feel their slight citrus-like flavour justified the $700 a kilo price tag, they are perfectly safe to eat.

The price is a factor of scarcity and ensuring sustainability in supply. The ants are wild harvested in a traditional way, with a stick and personally, anyone who’s game to knock one of those nests out of a tree and hang around to collect it deserves all of that price and more.

The Sounds of Silence Experience

The Sounds of Silence experience is perhaps the best known of the Uluru dinner tours but the evening is about far more than just the food. You arrive out at the private dune location just before the sun begins to set. With live music playing, drinks and canapes are circulating and you can relax and enjoy the magic as the colour of the sky gradually changes and the sun sinks closer to the horizon.

Before it’s fully dark you head around the corner towards the seated area and notice, perhaps for the first time, that Uluru isn’t the only remarkable backdrop here. From the outdoor dining room you look across at Kata Tjuta, also known as The Olgas, in the distance. It truly is the most beautiful location.

Bubbles at sunset overlooking Uluru

Large round tables are set with white tablecloths and unless you are travelling with a big group you will be seated with other travellers as you dine. On our visit, the service was alternate plate drop but the normal format is buffet style where you go up to the assisted chef station and they’ll plate your choice. The menu changes each season but has a consistent focus on fresh, bush tucker inspired dishes.

Sounds of silence dinner

A selection from the menu I enjoyed on our night here was warrigal green and mushroom rissoni, native thyme-scented lamb rack, saltbush potato pave, bush honey-roasted heirloom carrots, glazed greens and bush tomato jus. For dessert a whipped panna cotta, berry salad and rosella glass.

dessert sounds of silence

The whole setup is fabulous, it’s well away from the resort so everything is set up and managed on location and the staff are incredible, they really make the evening. It’s a large production, there’s a lot of guests but the staff manage to make everyone feel noticed.

Later as the meal progresses there is a presentation on the night sky which is really interesting and although I still struggle to make out the basic constellations that isn’t in any way a reflection on the presentation. I must admit that when I look up at the intensity of stars out there away from all the light pollution of the city or even the resort it always blows me away.

Something to think about when booking any of these dinner tour experiences is that you will be outdoors all evening and depending on the time of year it can be very cold at night in the desert so make sure you have enough layers with you to keep you warm. You are also walking in red sand, so flat shoes not heels are best and ideally ones that will wipe or brush clean.

Tali Wiru

Tali Wiru is a fine dining experience. Like the Sounds of Silence location, it is also well away from the resort in the seclusion of the desert. I couldn’t pick where we were in relation to the other venues, it’s really flat out here and I expected to be able to pick them out in the distance but it’s a massive space and there were no light or sound clues. It’s easy to see how you could get lost out here.

The site is prepared with a couple of terraced levels that are oriented with Uluru in front of you, around to the right and further into the distance is Kata Tjuta. As far as you can see in all directions, there is the simple beauty of nature. You start off on the lower level again with pre-dinner drinks and nibbles.

Learning about bush tucker at Tali Wiru dinner in Uluru

At the Sounds of Silence everything was on a big scale, at Tali Wiru it’s a more intimate experience. The attention is even more personalised and your glass doesn’t have a chance to be empty. The meal at Sounds of Silence was excellent but Tali Wiru is at another level, it’s a higher price point but while there are similarities in the structure of the evening they are quite different experiences.

This is the one to pick if you are after a romantic table for 2 or you are a small group sharing a meal to remember. While the image below shows tables set for our larger group of seven, they are configured based on the evenings bookings.

Tali Wiru desert dining at Uluru

Again the menu changes for the new season but includes 4 courses plus canapes with wine pairing on point for each dish. For main I enjoyed waghu fillet, salt baked celeriac, paperbark smoked onion soubise, king brown mushroom and smoked bacon jus accompanied by a Yarra Valley Syrah. I was also unable to resist the textures of chocolate for dessert with quandong and Davidson plum and served with a Murray Valley Muscat.

Tali Wiru main course

During the course of the evening a didgeridoo is played, we learned about bush tucker ingredients and get to see and taste raw versions of what will be included later in the menu, we watch the sunset and soak up the serenity. There is an astronomy presentation, I still can’t pick the constellations until they are pointed out to me, but surely after this one, I will be able to. The storytelling is more detailed, the setting more intimate, a truly memorable evening.

Field of lights dinner

With only two nights in Uluru, we went on the pre-dawn field of lights experience tour which included breakfast up on the dune as the sun came up. There is however an alternative that may suit many visitors better where you can do the experience in reverse.

Arrive at the dune and enjoy the panoramic views as the sun go down over Uluru with a glass of chilled bubbles and canapes. There’s a three-course dinner, again featuring bush tucker ingredients and a presentation helping you navigate the milky way gleaming overhead. Then after enjoying the view from above, take a wander down through the field of lights at your own pace.

Field of light in Uluru at dawn

The Field of Lights dinner runs for around 4.5 hours including transfers from the front of the resort and time to wander at your own pace through the paths inside the light field. The attraction comprises 50,000 glass light orbs and was original designed by British artist Bruce Munro in 2016. It was intended to be a temporary art installation but after a couple of extensions it remains as popular as ever and I believe it has now been extended indefinitely.

Making bush tucker accessible

Ayers Rock Resort make an effort to ensure the bush tucker menu and experience is accessible to all visitors. While the dinner tour experiences aren’t in everyone’s budget there are elements included in the food and drinks menus at the venues across the resort and amongst their free daily activities on the agenda that are well worth looking into.

The Bush Food Experience gives guests the opportunity to see, taste and cook with the local ingredients. Another free activity well worth taking up is the Garden walk with an indigenous guide who will introduce you to the desert garden and how some of the plants grown there are used in both food and medicine.


As you shelter from the afternoon sun, a wild orange negroni in the hand contemplating the evening’s activities we hope you enjoy your dinners, sunsets and night skies in Uluru as much as we did whichever options you choose.

If you found this article useful please consider saving it to Pinterest. It makes it easy for you to find again, it helps us, and it helps other travellers to find the information they are looking for.

Categories
Australia

Cool Cabana review – Staying sun safe this summer

We’ve spent the last couple of months testing out this sun shelter on beaches across Queensland. Our Cool Cabana review shares the results of our field testing, what we’ve learned along the way, what we loved and what we didn’t. If you’re in the market to upgrade your beach kit this summer you’ll want to read on.

Cool Cabana on Pialba beach

What is a Cool Cabana?

Mark Fraser is an architect and inventor with a knack for solving frustratingly obvious gaps in the market. Like us, he’s a Kiwi living in Australia and back in 2014, unable to find a functional sun shelter on the market, he designed his own and launched Cool Cabanas on Kickstarter.

His requirements were something that you could easily carry, put up quickly, that wouldn’t blow away, or obstruct the view for everyone else on the beach. Having achieved those initial requirements and finding a loyal following, the design has continued to be fine-tuned and is now onto the 5th generation.

See the full Cool Cabana range & prices

Our Cool Cabana review

We took the Cool Cabana with us for a month exploring the Fraser Coast beaches and on many day trips around the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast. When putting a new piece of kit to the test we want to be sure it is fit for our purpose, you really aren’t going to know that using it once or twice so we like to stress test it in a variety of conditions and locations over a period of time.

Being totally upfront about the reviews we publish, you haven’t and won’t see us sharing a load of negativity on this site, that’s just who we are. We only review an item that we have a use for, we put it to the test over a period of time and conditions and if we don’t LOVE it, then we don’t keep it and you just won’t see it mentioned around here.

We won’t recommend a product we don’t love enough to make a regular part of our travel kit or daily carry. What we will do is share both the good and the bad about a product, we know that even if an item works well for us and for our purposes it won’t be right for everyone. Our reviews are intended to help you work out whether a product might be a good solution for you.

So what exactly are we testing?

We went with the current 2021 model, the Cool Cabana 5 in size large and the pineapple design. Here’s why:

Most of the time it’s just the two of us using the cabana so we could have gone with the medium size and it would have been big enough. However, as we tend to prefer the more remote and uncrowded beaches we decided to go with the large size. It’s not likely to impinge on anyone else’s space where we’ll be using it and the packed weight and size difference was minimal, only 10cm in length but offering a whopping 45% more shade. That allows us to comfortably keep ourselves and any gear like the esky in the shade. It will also accommodate friends or family when it needs to.

It’s beach weather most of the year around here but in winter the sun is lower and to the north, so the shade also moves more quickly. A larger shaded area will mean we don’t need to move around in the space as much to avoid the sun.

There’s quite a range of designs available but as a Queenslander who can never get my fill of pineapples, that’s the one we had to have. It won’t often be an issue but if we head to Noosa, Bondi or some of the other more popular Cool Cabana weekend spots it should also make it easier to find our stuff on the beach again after we’ve been for a dip.

Video | Cool Cabana Review

What I like about the Cool Cabana

Safety first

We all need to be sun-safe, especially in the Australian climate. There’s more than the pain of a bad sunburn at stake. The Cool Cabanas fabric is independently tested and rated at SPF 50+ and together with a hat, sunscreen and sunnies, it can help make spending this summer (and winter) outdoors a healthy and comfortable reality.

For us, the beach is our happy place and we spend all the time we can, all year round, exploring the Australian coastline. There are around 34,000 kilometres of coast to explore on this island we call home so we figured we’re going to be out there a while and need to take the best sun-safe precautions we can.

Quick and easy to set up

The design is really smart. Using the provided tool makes it easy to embed the spike into the sand to the right depth. You then drop in the top which opens up like an old-style beach umbrella, then extend one fabric ‘arm’ at a time filling the pocket at the base with sand to hold it in place until you have worked your way around the four corners.

Centre pole correctly positioned

The cabanas are designed for one person to be able to put it up and take it down on their own, being on the shorter side I’d need to tiptoe a bit to do it but it is possible. The mechanism to seat the pole base into the sand makes easy work of that part and it doesn’t require above average strength for any part of the process.

They don’t blow away

We’ve had our old faithful pop up sun dome for the last 15 years but in reality, we rarely used it unless we were desperate. While it was light to carry it was cramped, being enclosed made it hot inside and the slightest breeze saw it flatten down at an awkward angle meaning you’d be huddled together on a slant. It also had a tendency to take off down the beach in the wind when we were taking a dip even when using tent pegs and the sand pocket.

Filling sand pocket on Cool Cabana

We’ve used the Cool Cabana a number of times on exposed beaches and in a medium-strength breeze. Each corner pocket fits around 4 kg of sand so there is 16 kg holding the umbrella structure level so the wind doesn’t get up underneath to lift it. There were a couple of creaks on the windiest day but it didn’t budge, it’s not going to stay in place in a cyclone but then we aren’t likely to be spending the day at the beach in gale-force winds.

I particularly like that the setup doesn’t need guy ropes and tent pegs which are a hassle and I’m always concerned about someone tripping over them.

The sand free pockets

There’s another set of pockets on the inside near the top of each corner leg. It’s only a small addition but we find it really useful to keep electronic car keys, phones or even the carry bag up away from the sand.

Storage pockets on the Cool Cabana

While the pockets aren’t secure as such, they are discrete. Discrete enough that on our first use we managed to pack up the cabana, get it into the carry bag and walk back to the vehicle before we realised that Drews wallet and the keys were still in the pocket which was now folded up securely in the bag. The good news is with the method of putting it back in the bag while it is still upright nothing fell out during the process.

Easy to carry

The large Cool Cabana fits into a tubular carry bag that’s just over a metre long and weighs 5.7 kg. The shoulder strap makes it reasonably easy to carry along with your other beach gear.

Sun shelter packed size

When packing up the cabana you go through the setup in reverse. Empty out the sand pockets one at a time, we find it best to turn them inside out then back the right way again ready for next time, that gets rid of the last of the sand residue. Then put the umbrella down but leave the pole standing where it is. Place the carry bag over the top, slightly awkward for shorties like me but possible, then lift it off the base pole. Remove the pole from the sand and slide that into the bag too and you’re done.

Packing up the Cool Cabana

When emptying the sand pockets we find it easiest to turn them inside out, the fabric is sand resistant and we’ve had no troubles shaking out the remnants. Even when it’s a bit damp the sand doesn’t seem to stick.

Empty the sand pockets

Build quality

The price point on the Cool Cabanas is at the higher end for a sun shelter, which means most of us are looking for it to be well made and last well. Honestly, it’s difficult to assess that fully with field testing and less than a season of use but we’ve put it up and down many times in a variety of situations and weather conditions and it still looks and performs like new.

The fabric feels good quality and the stitching and finishing all look good. The umbrella mechanism seems solid despite the frame being fairly lightweight and it moves smoothly. In use, including in windy conditions, it doesn’t show any sign of stress or tension that would indicate likely points of failure over time.

We are heavy users of our beach kit, we don’t just use it on the odd weekend and I can see us getting years of use from this one.

So what are the limitations?

The main drawback we experienced was not being able to use the Cool Cabana on the grass. While we would use it on the beach at least 95% of the time there were a few National Park stops and a beach park where we would have liked the option to put it up in a grassy spot when there was no other shade available.

Later in the year when we head up to the Capricorn Coast with the RV, it would be useful to have a stand-alone shelter that could be used nearby on some of the grass sites as well as taking it down to the beach.

After considering ways I could create a workaround I’ve now discovered that there is a Grass Kit available separately from Cool Cabanas that overcomes this issue. We’ll try to get hold of one before we next head away and add an update on how that works.

In conclusion

Overall we’ve been very happy with how the Cool Cabana has performed for our use. The ease of putting it up and down has been a big factor, if that was too time-consuming I think we’d avoid using it unless we were setting up for the day. As it is, it’s easy enough to do so it’s worth putting it up to have our choice of beach spots in the shade even if that’s only for an hour or two.

See the full Cool Cabana range & prices

While I understood the open side design was more about not obstructing others view down the beach it’s also really nice to have the airflow and to take in the view in all directions. After our little dome shelter that space and not feeling confined on a hot day is great.

If you found this article useful please consider saving it to Pinterest. It makes it easy for you to find again, it helps us, and it helps other travellers to find the information they are looking for.

Categories
Australia

An AmazingCo mystery picnic on Tamborine Mountain

It’s no secret that we love a good picnic and discovering a new hidden spot to throw down the blanket is always a happy find. We recently had the chance to experience an AmazingCo mystery picnic on Tamborine Mountain in the Gold Coast hinterland, with our first clue nutted out we wasted no time in packing the car and heading off.

Curtis Falls in Tamborine Mountain

There’s a whole range of mystery picnic destinations offered by Amazing Co but I’m going to keep the spoilers to a minimum down below because working out the clues as you go is a big part of the fun. Tamborine Mountain is a rainforest region with many bushwalking tracks, waterfalls and stunning natural spaces but it is also become well known for its wineries, artisan producers and other fabulous foodie finds in recent years.

So what exactly is a mystery picnic?

After spending a fabulous day on Tamborine Mountain collecting items for our picnic hamper then settling down to enjoy it I’d explain it as a cross between a road trip adventure, a treasure hunt, and a tasting tour.

The first part of the day is to figure out where you are going by solving a series of clues. You will know the general region you booked of course but from there you need to work together with your partner or team. There are quite a number of different Amazingco mystery picnic destinations to choose from, in South East Queensland alone you can pick from Gold Coast beaches, the Gold Coast hinterland, the Sunshine Coast and several Brisbane suburbs.

Tamborine Botanic Garden
Picking out our picnic spot

Throughout the day you’ll solve clues that lead you to places to discover in the region and in a number of those destinations you’ll collect or choose items for your picnic hamper.

The final clue will lead you to a suggested picnic destination, of course you are also free to choose one of the other places you’ve spotted as you drove around and explored.

Video: Mystery Picnic on Mt Tamborine

Our mystery picnic experience in Tamborine Mountain

A couple of days before our picnic we got a warm-up email letting us know what to bring, and in these times of COVID, a few minor changes to the normal programming. At the moment to avoiding sharing equipment they suggest you bring your own cooler bag.

We also packed our usual picnic kit with blankets, a cheese board, knife, plates and cups. I like having these things for a bit of a glammed up picnic but we did receive napkins and disposable cutlery at one of the locations so we didn’t really need our own. The esky or cooler bag is definitely a good idea, especially in the summertime for food safety and icy cold drinks. I’m guessing at some time in the future the cooler baskets will return as part of the process and that could be useful if you are travelling and don’t have access to one.

Book your own mystery picnic experience

The night before our adventure an email arrived with our unique link which contained clues for the day. You can jump ahead and work through the puzzles in advance so you know the plan for the day or instead you can solve the first clue before you start driving in the morning and do each new riddle as you go. I’d suggest taking their suggestion and having a pen and paper with you, expecially if you’re a visual person.

We headed into the hinterland a little early and started with a short rainforest walk to Curtis Falls, it was on the way to our first destination and is only 1.1 km for the return walk down to the waterfall viewing platform. This section is very well-formed, an easy gradient and although it’s a natural dirt track there is gravel embedded in the path that helps makes it less muddy after a bit of rain.

For such an easy trail it’s a beautiful section of dense mountain rainforest that provides a good introduction for anyone in the group not looking for something longer. You’ll see and hear a wide variety of birdlife as you pass under You can extend this out to around 2.8 km by following the lower creek circuit but this will involve some rock hopping and a muddier track if it’s been raining.

Around 11 am we started following the clues to assemble our picnic basket of goodies. Now you can of course go in, grab your treats and move on to the next one but we knew we’d want to stop and talk to the various producers so we allowed time for that.

Witches Falls Winery

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect but was very happy to see that the picnic wasn’t just about stopping in at local businesses to collect the components but provided an introduction to some small local and handmade produce that overwise we might nevery have discovered.

One of the items to join our basket was a delicious triple-cream brie with a fragrant truffle layer. The cheese is made with milk from chilled-out cows here in the Scenic Rim who get to pick their own milking time. Not a morning cow, well that’s fine, just wander down a little later, I thought that was adorable but it seems it also really does help make great cheese.

All up it was a fabulous selection for a picnic platter with cold meats, cheeses, fig paste, crackers, lavosh and garlic bread, mini bacon and egg tarts, fresh and dried fruits, vegetables, olives and artichokes. There was a cold drink each included and we had brought the Nanopresso for coffee on the go, plus they included a choice of fudge and buttery lavender shortbread to finish.

Amazingco mystery picnic goodies

When we arrived at the suggested picnic spot it was a really good choice, lots of tables spread around in a natural setting and several were undercover so you also had an option if you got unlucky with the weather, it is the rainforest after all. The spot was also ideal for another walk after lunch.

Who would enjoy an AmazingCo mystery picnic?

We did the couples mystery picnic and having been married for 30 years we work together on the clues fairly easily but I could see this being a really fun date with the opportunity to get outdoors, great food, discovering a region and a few laughs as you solve the directions together.

We headed into the gorgeous Gold Coast hinterland for our picnic, an area we know pretty well but you don’t need any local knowledge to enjoy these days out. They are a great way to discover an area and we’ll definitely be looking out for options as we travel around, having done one now I think this would be a really fun way to get to know a new area, the Macedon Ranges in Victoria and the Adelaide Hills in South Australia are two I’d like to know a lot better!

The picnic we did was priced at $120 for a couple. Not a budget lunch but we felt it was fair value when considering it’s a half-day or full-day activity. The food quality and quantity were very good with a focus on locally produced products. The areas they directed you to and suggestions to explore locally are also excellent. We easily filled in the rest of the day with a couple of easy walks in the beautiful Tamborine Mountain section of the UNESCO heritage listed Gondwana Rainforests of Australia.

Book your own mystery picnic experience

Final thoughts

Although we know Tamborine Mountain reasonably well for hiking, the scenery and an odd lunch along the Gallery Walk, we were pleased to find that we discovered several new spots on the mystery outing. Even if you guessed the likely sort of items to appear in a picnic basket they didn’t use the more obvious places to pick them up from so even as semi-locals we were on a journey of discovery.

When we travel we like to ensure we bring business to the local region and Amazing Co has a strong focus on that. They have selected smaller boutique businesses to visit and collect the items for the basket, each had their own story, friendly locals to chat to for added insight and at least one has tempted me to plan a visit back to enjoy its onsite experience sometime soon.

The food itself was delicious and fresh. It was a generous serve, more than the two of us could finish and another couple we met at the picnic stop during the afternoon were the same.

If you found this article useful please consider saving it to Pinterest. It makes it easy for you to find again, it helps us, and it helps other travellers to find the information they are looking for.

Categories
Australia

The best cafes in Bundaberg

When we first visited Bundaberg I was surprised by the fabulous foodie culture we found here. Now on a repeat visit with more time to spend in the region we’ve set out to discover our own definitive list of the best cafes in Bundaberg.

Situated in the midst of one of Australia most diverse and prolific food bowls it really should be no surprise that this town has created and drawn back home more than its fair share of excellent chefs, cooks and craft producers. So if you’re wondering where to eat in Bundaberg we have some fabulous choices that really showcase local produce and you won’t want to miss these.

These cafes have put themselves firmly ‘on the map’ but in case you are new to the area, or looking to plan your road trip based on your next meal as we have been known to do I’ll include our own map below with some must-visit spots for the visiting foodie, or hungry family.

Our favourite Bundaberg Cafes

Water Street Kitchen

The Water Street Kitchen cafe and catered dining room are run by Alex and Jen. When I first visited in July 2017 it was one of the newer additions to the Bundy food scene but they started strong and after our recent return visit, I’m pleased to say they have gone from strength to strength.  

This sand crab lasagne is absolutely delicious. It might look like a very generous serving of crustacean sauce it’s sitting in but believe me you won’t want to leave even a smear on your plate, and is a parmesan chip a little OTT on such a decadent meal, well probably but I’m still not sharing. Drew’s katsu chicken burger on a brioche bun with aioli and fries did look a more mainstream option but I’m guessing the magic is all in the marinading of the chicken to make it so incredibly tender and juicy inside its crispy coating.

Water Street Cafe Bundaberg - That crab lasagne is perfection

Jen’s style and aesthetic are evident in the beautiful decor and decorative touches throughout and Alex’s experience as a chef, his enthusiasm for the local produce and a strong grounding in balancing nutrition, flavour and presentation will have them in demand for a long time to come.

It also doesn’t hurt that they’re an adorable, engaging couple with a clear passion for their foodie venture.  They always feature strongly in the lineup for the Taste Bundaberg Festival and its predecessor Winterfeast.  I can’t wait to get back and see what they are doing a little further down the track.

Water Street Kitchen

The Water Street Kitchen is located in a converted house on the corner of a suburban street in Bundaberg South. With indoor tables, seating on the sunny deck and casual garden tables it’s an inviting space to linger over lunch, celebrate that special dinner or catch up with friends for a weekend brunch.

Address:  85 Water St, Walkervale QLD 4670

Indulge Cafe

Ask the locals one place you must try while in Bundaberg and they will send you here.  It’s an adorable heritage styled cafe tucked away in the midst of town. You might have walked right past if you didn’t know that you shouldn’t.  

It’s owned and run by Mitchell White, a young chef who could be the poster boy for the locavore movement in Bundaberg, he absolutely lives, cooks and breathes the philosophy of knowing where the ingredients came from and who grew them.

Indulge blueberry pancake
Fabulous and fresh breakfast at Indulge Cafe

It’s much more than that though, he creates magic with the ingredients both in the flavour profiles and presentation.  We had brunch at the cafe and also attended a 5-course garden party he and his team catered at Fairymead House for WinterFeast 2017.  Honestly, this man can’t produce a bad dish.

Sunday Soiree by Indulge Cafe
Sunday Soiree by Indulge Cafe
Sunday Soiree dessert by Indulge Cafe

Address:  80 Bourbong St, Bundaberg Central QLD 4670

The Journey

It’s not often I’ll call out a coffee shop amongst my favourite cafes in a destination, it’s not easy to build a reputation on great coffee alone but these guys really do warrant a mention, and a stop when you are next in Bargara.

There’s only a small seated area indoors and bar table around the side but we were planning to take ours down to sit at the bar table in the park overlooking Bargara beach for the best views in town. I ordered a flat white (the Kiwi coffee order is here to stay) and Drew got his usual long black with a splash of milk. Both were smooth and full of flavour with a long tail but no hint of bitterness – for me pretty much coffee perfection.

While owner Mat is an ultra trail running vegan there is no judgement on what milk you choose, they have full cream Mooloo Mountain, a Queensland farmers milk from around the Gympie region I believe if that’s your preference and Zymil for the lactose intolerant but there is also a full spectrum of quality plant based choices.

I did do a second take on their milk pricing though, having become accustomed over the years to paying a hefty premium on every cup for the privilege of being allowed to have plant-based it did not go unnoticed that they actually gave a discount! That was definitely a first.

The coffee is also locally sourced from Kai, a fair-trade coffee roaster on the Sunshine Coast who in turn do their bit to support both the growers and children living in poverty.

Address: 13B Centre Point, 5 Bauer Street Bargara. QLD 4670

Grunskes by the River

Grunskes is another Bundy icon and on my must visit list whether you choose to stop by for lunch or dinner on the river, or to pick up some fresh fish and seafood to cook back at your own accommodation. It’s rare now to find a seafood processor who sells directly to the public but at Grunskes there’s a team who’s job it is ensure a constant supply of shucked scallops, filleted fish and prepared seafood direct from the boats is available for distribution to retail customers and through the restaurant.  That’s a big job as this place is super popular for good reason.

Grunskes by the River, Bundaberg

Owners Paul and Beryl know the industry inside out having been involved in commercial fishing and running prawn trawlers for over 40 years.  They are passionate supporters of the industry and promoters of wild caught Australian seafood.  You’ll find the vibe here is relaxed and casual situated right on the river front.  

You just won’t get fresher, more delicious seafood than this.  Although you’re able to take away both a cooked meal or wet fish, I highly recommend that you grab a table on the deck at least once during your stay to enjoy the full experience of exceptional local seafood together with the view by day or the peaceful evening air.

Address:  11E Petersen Street, Bundaberg East QLD 4670

Breeze Cafe and Bakery

Skye runs Breeze Cafe alongside Mum (Gudrun) and Dad (Richard) together with some local help.  They make a formidable team producing all their preservative-free bread and baked goods on the premise including my favourite, Richards special ginger beer cultured sourdough.  

Breeze cafe and bakery

They cater for all dietary requirements with a solid range of gluten-free and vegan options, raw cakes and had no problem with recommending a rice milk alternative for me with the cold drip coffee.  Incidentally if you’re not a cold drip convert already you need to try it here, they make it on-premises and it has an incredibly smooth flavour with a solid hit of wake-me-up caffeine.

The cafe is a great space to relax while the menu is full of familiar favourites crafted with their own special touch.  Local and home made is their specialty with many ingredients coming from ‘just up the road’ or the herb, chili and passionfruit patch out back.  Even the vast amount of flour that goes into each days bread supply is milled in central Queensland.

Breeze are open 7 days from 8am until 2pm and their location in Innes Park make them a good stop to incorporate on a drive down to explore the southern reaches.  Perhaps some snorkelling at Barolin Rocks or the white sand and river mouth at Elliot Heads.

Address:  Innes Park Rd, Innes Park QLD 4670

Windmill Cafe, Bargara

Finally I have to give a mention to Windmill Cafe in Bargara. This one is very easy to find by it’s distinctive namesake design just a block back from the beach.

The Windmill Bargara

They offer a range of healthy meal options again with a focus on local produce but their range of Nana’s Pantry Gelatos are what many seek out here. The traditional Italian style gelati are made daily in Bundaberg using fresh fruit sourced from local farms.

Address: 12 See St, Bargara QLD

If you found this article useful please consider saving it to Pinterest. It makes it easy for you to find again, it helps us, and it helps other travellers to find the information they are looking for.

Categories
Australia

Top things to do in Maryborough

Looking for things to do in Maryborough? You might be surprised at the variety this regional town on the Fraser Coast has to offer. Here are 18 of our top picks to get you started.


This picturesque heritage city of Maryborough is just a 3-hour drive north of Brisbane and half an hour from the gorgeous beaches of Hervey Bay. Located on the banks of the Mary River, the town is best known for its connection to Mary Poppins and with a history that dates back to 1847, you’ll want to stop for a while and discover more.

Whether you chose to take a day trip to Maryborough from one of the popular surrounding tourist areas such as Hervey Bay and Bundaberg, spend a few days in the RV friendly town exploring the sights, or stop off on your south-east Queensland road trip, it’s well worth setting some time aside for a visit.

The key sights we cover below are included on this map for your convenience, you can see their relativity to each other, plan your route or save it to your phone for future reference.

Getting to Maryborough

It’s most common to arrive in Maryborough by car, it’s located off the Bruce Highway around 3 hours north of Brisbane and 1 hour 20 minutes south of Bundaberg. It’s an easy drive and there are frequent fuel and rest stops directly off the highway.

Another option is the Tilt Train operated by Queensland Rail. We rode it a few years ago from Brisbane to Maryborough, it continues on the North Coast line from there all the way through to Cairns.

Tilt Train

The train takes 5 hours and for us is a relaxed way to travel. You check your luggage and it’s unloaded for you to collect at your destination so you have the freedom of only managing your hand luggage on board with you. Oversized seats offer far more legroom than air travel, you can get up and wander around whenever you want and the scenery is fabulous.

Read More: If you enjoy train travel too, New Zealand’s Northern Explorer is one to consider.

Greyhound Buses also offer a daily bus service from Brisbane to Maryborough. The express has 6 stops and will take just under 5 hours, the 11 stop option will take around 6 hours.

Video – Exploring the Fraser Coast

Things to do in Maryborough

1. Queens Park

The heritage-listed botanic gardens were established in 1860 and first gazetted in October 1873. Many of the large old trees date back to that time and the ornate band rotunda was added in 1890.

Queens Park in Maryborough

Other features of the park are the sweeping lawns, impressive giant fig trees with a maze of ariel roots, a lagoon pond, and river views.

A local brass band plays in the rotunda on the last Sunday of the month when you will also want to listen out for the conductor’s whistle as the 13cm gauge model steam railway comes to life chugging through the park.

Located on Sussex Street, Maryborough.


2. Mary River Parklands

If you continue on from Queens Park towards the Wharf Street precinct you’ll find yourself in the Mary River Parklands. The historic port of Maryborough was opened in 1847 and was transformed a few years ago with new gardens, artworks and winding pathways.

It’s one of the best spots to appreciate the river from the city and the new 23-metre long Queen’s wharf was also built here in the style of the old timber wharves that in past years lined the riverfront.

Located on Wharf Street, Maryborough.


3. Street Art in Maryborough

Maryborough isn’t the first small regional town where we’ve been surprised by the impressive artworks, Toowoomba also in South East Queensland and Leura in the Blue Mountains are some favourites.

The mural trail in Maryborough tells the story of the city. It is around 2 km long and includes 30+ murals across 8 city blocks.

'Our World' mural in Maryborough tells the story of the naming of the city and river

The one shown above for example is at the back of the Telstra building on Wharf Street. It’s called ‘Our World’ and tells the story of the link between Lady Mary, the wife of Governor Sir Charles FitzRoy, and the naming of the city and river.

You’ll find a guide to the murals here but we suggest picking up a trail guide at the visitors centre and starting from there, the first mural is located right next door inside city hall.


4. The Bond Store

Adjacent to the Mary River Parklands you’ll find the old Bond Store. The red brick building dates back to 1864 and had a central function in the Customs process provide secure storage of goods of value that would attract a tax, key items at the time such as cigars, tobacco, rum, wine, spirits and opium.

While the building has been restored the handmade bricks, earthen floors and barrel rails still date back to that time. Today it houses some displays and artifacts related to the early history of the portside area. Within its stores, you can now purchase a curated range of regional produce and taste a range of local ports and liqueurs. The Bond Store also serves as a venue for events held in the city.

Located at 101 Wharf Street, Maryborough.


5. The Gallipolli to Armistice Memorial

Located on the high side of Queens Park this impressive and moving memorial is a community project inspired by letters written at the front to family and loved ones back home.

Gallipoli memorial Maryborough

The horror and hope are captured in equal measure and it really is one of the best memorials we’ve experienced, a must-see for any Australian.

Your complete guide to the Gallipoli to Armistice Trail

Follow the footsteps of Lieutenant Duncan Chapman, first ashore on the 25th April 1915 as they lead from the bow of the boat, built to scale from ironwood, and past the soaring pillars representing the daunting cliffs of Gallipoli. Read their stories and follow the path of inscribed pavers, statues and motion-activated recordings towards the cenotaph.

The memorial was opened in July 2018, it is free to enter and accessible.

Located on Adelaide Street, Maryborough.


6. Brolga Theatre

Thinking of a night out with a show or live music? The Brolga Theatre and convention centre is where it happens in Maryborough. Situated on the riverbank adjacent to Queens Park there is plenty of onsite parking. Inside there are a variety of flexible performance spaces and they even host outdoor events at the Riverstage in the park next door.


7. Fay Smith Wetlands

The Fay Smith Environmental Corridor is a 10 hectare wetland remnant in Maryborough. The woodland area has grassy paths and elevated boardwalk areas through the paperbark swamp, red bloodwoods, swamp mahogany, acacias and forest red gum.

The parks is named after Fay Smith who was a well known local conservationist, birdwatcher and nature photographer. She was active in reforestation projects, foreshore replanting and sustainable farming practices. As one of the few remaining wetlands in the area it is particularly popular among birdwatchers.

The wetlands are part of the Great Sandy Biosphere, a UNESCO recognised global conservation site that includes Fraser Island.


8. Anzac Park and Ululah Lagoon

We detoured out to this park to have a quick walk and drink our coffee but we ended up staying much longer. The rolling grass area is dotted with picnic tables under large shady trees and manmade shelters together with clean BBQ facilities that overlook the lagoon.

There is a walking path along the lagoon inside the park which is home to many species of waterfowl and you can extend your walk to a 5 km circuit by following the fitness trail along the lagoon front then follow the streets along the outside of the golf course and back through the park.

Ululah lagoon and ANZAC park

There’s a good range of kids’ play equipment grouped into several sections under large shade covers and a flying fox.

They’ve also just completed a fabulous new all-abilities playground and zero-depth water park in June 2021. The developments include more picnic shelters and landscaped gardens. This is a great spot to relax under the trees or to bring the kids for a fun afternoon.

Located on Alice and Cheapside Street, Maryborough.


9. Heritage City Walk

The Maryborough city centre is flat and compact. It’s easy to navigate yourself on a self-guided tour and if you’re not sure where to start you can pick up a map and some pointers at the Visitors Information Centre at the Town Hall.

An even better option is to pop on your walking shoes and meet up there at 9 am for a free guided walk taking in the colourful history of the region, its historic sites, buildings and unique character.


10. Cruise on the Mary River

The Mary River is the lifeblood of Maryborough. As with many Australian towns, it’s the very reason for their existence and choice of location, but as any river city knows they have to be respected and can bring disaster.

Maryborough knows that better than many and a brick wall next to the Portside Restaurant shows the improbable height that the river reached during various historic floods including the relatively recent 2013 inundation through to the record of 1893.

Marborough flood markers

A great way to experience the river is to take a cruise on it. There is one operated by Spirit of Hervey Bay that leaves from the Hervey Bay marina heading out into the bay before travelling up the Mary River. You spend a short time in Maryborough having lunch or enjoying the park before returning back to the bay. The trip takes around 5 hours all up and has the chance to spot dolphins and turtles along the way. There’s an interesting commentary and the opportunity to observe life on the river.


11. The Story Bank

P.L Travers was born Helen Lyndon Goff in Maryborough in 1899. The daughter of a bank manager she was born in the bedroom above the bank in Richmond Street, the site where the Story Bank resides today. We of course know her as the author of the Mary Poppins series amongst others.

The Story Bank may have links to P L Travers and Mary Poppins but what it’s really about is the art of storytelling in all its forms and letting imaginations run free. It’s a colorful, fun, creative space that will inspire children and adults alike.

Located in Richmond St, Maryborough QLD 4650


12. Wild kangaroos in Maryborough

While you won’t see them hopping around town the area has plenty of farm and bushland offering habitat to these native marsupials. Passengers are bound to spot a few out of the car window especially if travelling early in the morning or later afternoon.

One almost guaranteed spot is the Mary Poppins Reserve that runs between O’Brien and Admiral Street. It’s a fairly small suburban park that has a decent sized mob of kangaroos calling it home. The local residents and kangaroos share the space peacefully so if you pop out here to see the sculpture of Mary Poppins please respect the privacy of the locals, both marsupial and human.


13. Police Paddock Regional Park

The Police Paddock Regional Park is an interesting area to visit if you are after some time out in nature, a touch of exercise, or some time spotting the local wildlife but it also has a bit of local history. It’s not something I’d thought about really but back in the day all police stations had a paddock, I suppose there had to be somewhere to rest and run their horses.

This one had remained public land throughout the years and not been built on but wasn’t formally gazetted as a park until 1986. Some of the infrastructure, particularly the boardwalk area dates back to that time and is in need of some repair so watch your footing, it’s not suitable for wheelchairs.

Keep an eye out for koala in the park and there’s also a good variety of birds seen along the tracks.


14. Maryborough open gardens

Maryborough has some gorgeous gardens and if you are in the area during August you might be able to catch the annual open garden festival. Featured gardens run the gambit from traditional English gardens surrounding century-old federation homes to farm gardens, permaculture food forests, tropical and public garden displays.

You will find more on the Maryborough open gardens on the official site here.


15. Maryborough City Market

On Thursday morning each week between 7 am and noon you will find the central section of Adelaide Street near City Hall closed off, this is where they host the weekly markets. There were a lot more stalls than I expected, especially for a mid week market which in many places tend to be smaller.

Maryborough market

There was a really nice coffee cart, several snack food vendors, stalls are selling clothing, art and craft wares, most locally made and good quality. Then there are a couple of stalls selling plants and a good selection of fresh produce vendors including fruit, vegetables, honey, olives, small goods, freshly baked breads, roasted nuts and more.

With most markets being held on the weekends it was a great opportunity for us to fill our market bags with local ironbark honey, lemons, dragonfruit, broccoli, and avocados all at great prices and excellent quality. This is a great option to stock up if you are staying in the area or passing through with the caravan or motorhome.

Located on Adelaide Street, Maryborough.


Where to eat in Maryborough

The Portside Cafe and Restaurant

We stopped in here with family over the Christmas break for a quick morning coffee and loved the friendly staff and white table cloths on the open verandah seating. We recently had the opportunity to revisit to try out the brunch menu.

They put a strong focus on fresh local ingredients and robust flavour combinations. I ordered the locally grown mushrooms on sourdough with white bean puree, avocado, spinach, herbs and halloumi, it was delicious. Drew was equally happy with the organic eggs benedict and local smoky bacon.

Brunch at Portside cafe

The menu selection is great including a diverse brunch menu until 11, then lunch and dinner options ranging from tacos and burgers to crispy skin salmon and New York strip with a choice of sauces and all the trimmings.

Located on Adelaide Street, Maryborough.

Alowishus Delicious

I first visited Alowishus for their great cafe selection up in Bundaberg years ago, I ran into them again at the Taste Bundaberg festival where I joined the queue for their incredible gelato flavours. More recently we rediscovered them for lunch in Maryborough right next to city hall and sure enough, they have a fabulous array of Alowishus made gelato that incorporates local ingredients from a variety of Wide Bay producers, right there at the counter.

That gelato counter is dangerously close to the start of the Thursday market site if you’re feeling like a little extra treat.

Located at 232 Adelaide Street, Maryborough.

Lychee Divine

Another great foodie stop is this cellar door run by a local Tairo family. Located just off the main highway north it’s a convenient rest stop and if you enjoy lychees their lychee ice cream is an absolute must-try, the lychee and ginger is our favourite but that might be because I can’t bring myself to pass it up and try the others. It’s made here in SE Queensland on the Sunshine Coast with fruit from their family farm.

The farm contains 3000 lychee trees selected to fruit from early until late in the season but that is still only mid-December until mid-February so they have extended that lychee goodness all year round with their selection of wines, liqueurs, sauces, and vinegar. Their caramelised lychee balsamic vinegar is a pantry staple for me, great with grilled meat and salads, drizzled on fruit and added into all manner of sauces and dressings.

While in the area you might also be interested in

If you found this article useful please consider saving it to Pinterest. It makes it easy for you to find again, it helps us, and it helps other travellers to find the information they are looking for.

Categories
Australia

Exploring Hervey Bay beaches

You may be surprised, as we were 20 years ago, to arrive on the Fraser Coast and find there is no beach called Hervey Bay. Instead, a 16-kilometre sandy bay stretches from Urangan through to the tip of Point Vernon which collectively comprises the Hervey Bay beaches, each with its own attractions.

Having recently spent a month in the region we had the opportunity to spend time exploring the full Wide Bay Coastline from end to end and today I’ll take you through each of the Hervey Bay beaches including our favourites, what they each have to offer and which ones might be of interest to you.

Gatakers beach

Rather than rank them based on our personal favourites I’ll list them from the south heading north as I recently did for our top Sunshine Coast beaches. This may help you in planning your road trip through the Fraser Coast or when choosing where to stay.

If you are planning to be in the area I also recommend taking a few minutes to browse our pick of the best things to do in Hervey Bay.

The first 6 beaches I am going to mention basically run from one into the next and you could walk the full 16 km along the sand from Urangan up to Point Vernon passing from beach to beach with the occasional flat rock pool shelf to navigate depending on the tides. Beyond that, the next 4 are distinct beach hamlets that you’ll access as you drive north.

Urangan

The first beach and perhaps the most recognisable is Urangan. The historic pier used to clock in at over a kilometre in length back when it was used as a railway connection to the deep port. The tracks have long since been removed along with a section of the pier but at 868 metres today it’s still a good walk. We love this one especially in summer when you can catch a little bit of cooling sea breeze. It’s popular with fisherman, families and local walkers getting their exercise but is rarely crowded even during the holidays.

Urangan Pier Hervey Bay

You’ll often see kite surfers on the beach here on a windy day and on the low tide we enjoy walking out through the knee-deep water out to the sand bar. Out there and from the wharf you regularly see birds of prey such as Brahminy Kites, Osprey and White Bellied Sea Eagles fishing or resting. You can also see turtles, dolphins and even occasionally dugong and humpback whales from the wharf.

Urangan beach is in two parts, on either side of the pier. About a 1.5 km walk south from here either along the beach or a flat waterfront path you’ll come to the boat harbour. This is where the whale watching and Fraser Island tours leave from.

There are also cafes and The Boat Club along here if you are looking for somewhere to eat and drink. Our favourite is Cafe Balaena sat out on their wooden deck, unless it’s a rare windy day the sides are rolled up and you can enjoy the views of the boats coming and going from the marina and beyond that Fraser Island.

On Wednesday and Saturday mornings there are markets in Urangan set up in the park just up from the Pier. The weekday market is mostly craft and clothes, the weekend has more focus on food and local growers.

Urangan is an option for a swim at high tide and provides a fun spot for a family day at the beach on most tides with enough water caught in little pools and channels for some fun splashing about.

Torquay

Torquay Beach has a couple of parkland areas with picnic tables, the main one is Neilson’s Park, located between Toms walk and Coopers walk. The parkland offers all the usual features of shaded tables, BBQs, toilets and grassed areas.

Torquay near high tide

The two boardwalks are set back towards the beach from the main coastal pathway. They are for walkers only and provide a shady nature experience with seating areas offering peaceful places for reflection along the way. Both Tom and Cooper were local boys who were taken far too young from their families by brain cancer, the walkways are memorials to the boys and a gift to the community at a beach they loved.

For your caffine hit and tummy rumbles, Torquays Aquavue is a beachfront cafe offering a great outlook over the beach, meals, events and their own Mañana coffee blend from Queensland Seven Miles Coffee Roasters.

Scarness

The Scarness Jetty park is another picturesque spot with covered tables, bbq facilities, a playground and a small jetty where a resident Osprey will closely vet anything you might manage to catch fishing here. The water is ideal off here not only for swimming or cooling off on the full tide but a variety of watersports including kayaking, SUP and sailing.

Scarness beachfront

If you are looking for a meal or drink then Enzo’s on the Beach is another of the select few cafes located beachfront in Hervey Bay as opposed to on the road ensuring it is always popular. That beachfront bar seating and bean bags mean it’s also an Insta hotspot when the water is sparking, and when isn’t it.

Pialba

The beach at Pialba is lovely and quiet, similarly to the rest of the bay swimming here is on the high tide with shallow pools in the sand on the low tide.

The beach parklands at Pialba are also a community hub, you’ll find the popular WetSide waterpark here with its zero-depth water play areas and water slides.

Hervey Bay Water Park

Adventure Side is next door with an extensive play area featuring an all-abilities playground and towering rope climbing frame with spiral slides and an enclosed swing bridge. Adventure Side also has a skate park and Parkour course. There are covered and naturally shaded picnic tables, BBQs and landscaped grass park areas.

Adventure Side Hervey Bay

Between WaterSide and AdventureSide is the Seafront Oval, the outdoor stage and open area are used for a variety of events and shows throughout the year including the Seafood Festival and parts of the Whale Festival.

Across the Road on either side of Tooan Tooan Creek you can see fruit bats roosting. During the day they are fairly still and sleeping, if you want to see them coming to life and preparing to fly out for the evening you are best to be there around dusk. There are more parks and a walking track that follows the creek and mangroves here.

Just back from the beach in Pialba is also where you’ll find the main shopping and business area in town.

Point Vernon

There are a couple of access points and parks along Point Vernon beach you’ll first come to The Pines Park just after Pialba then Esa Park at the top of the Point.

Esa Park is our pick of the two, there is more parking here but often fewer cars. It has a good children’s play park with picnic shelters, BBQ’s and toilets at one end then another large grassed area with picnic tables or plenty of room to put up your own beach gazebo if you prefer at the other end.

Esa Park Point Vernon

There’s a nice sandy beach through the middle, plenty of room to stake out a beach spot and set up and at either end there is a flat rocky shelf with tidal rock pools to explore. You can walk for miles along the beach in either direction.

Gatakers Bay

Gatakers Bay is also located on Point Vernon. It’s a quieter beach that offers a boat ramp, plenty of parking and picnic spots, gas BBQs, public toilets, extensive tidal rock pools, a sandy beach and as you head down the western side of the point, mangroves and bushland areas.

Gatakers Bay

There aren’t any shops of cafes adjacent to the beach area so you might want to consider bringing a picnic with you. It’s usually a fairly quiet spot down here, even on weekends and public holidays.

Dundowran Beach

A 10-minute drive north of the centre of Hervey Bay is Dundowran Beach. I’ve had a soft spot for this small beachside community for many years and it has turned on some incredible sunrises for us over that time, if you are wanting a spot for a dawn walk, breakfast on the beach or just to get some sunrise photos with a classic beach backdrop this one is a winner.

Sunrise on Dundowran beach

It’s also a fabulous beach to spend the day on. The bay is very flat leaving a huge expanse of sand as the tide goes out but this means if you are planning to swim you need to time it around the full tide. The rest of the time it’s good to sit in the water and cool off or paddle up to your knees but not much more. Perfect if like me you like walking the beach splashing along in the tide.

It’s a long beach for walking from Eli Creek through to Craignish with park and bush backdrops to most of it. Watch out for the Mungomery Vine Forest Reserve entrances off Ebony and Cissus Court through to the beach for something different, you’ll have a good chance to spot local birds and wildlife there and also at the Arkarra Lagoons on Sempfs Road. The lagoons are on public land with walking tracks around them, the Arkarra Gardens Cafe behind them is privately owned and an attractive spot in the area if you are looking for somewhere for coffee or lunch.

There are two main beach accesses, with car parking, a toilet block and a grassed reserve running behind the beach. One is at the end of Sawmill Road, the other at Ansons Road.

Craignish Beach

The next beach north from Dundowran is Craignish running from Dundowran through to O’Regan Creek although in reality the two beaches blend very much together and the main differentiation is the beach access point. In Craignish the main beach access is from Whiting Park at the end of Petersen Road. Again you will find a small car park, public toilets and a beach shelter with a couple of seating areas and BBQ.

Two other public access points are available from Pacific Promenade, the one opposite Cedar Road is a narrow grassy strip between two houses and from the turning circle at the far end of the street there is another entry.

Craignish beach

Like Dundowran it’s a beachside residential village with a beautiful, quiet beach and safe swimming although care should be taken particularly near the creek mouth. The creek area is also popular for fishing and the Conservation Park that surrounds the creek can be accessed from the end of Edgewater Road. There’s street parking for a couple of cars here but no additional facilities.

Toogoom Beach

There are two other more remote beaches in the Hervey Bay area. Around 15 minutes from central Hervey Bay you’ll come to Toogoom Beach. There are a number of beach access points in Toogoom but the beaches are generally very quiet with little tourism. The area around the Beelbi Creek inlet is popular for crab pots and fishing, birdwatches also enjoy several spots in the area and watersports such as kayaking and windsurfing are popular with locals.

Burrum Heads

Burrum Heads on the southern side of the entry to the Burrum River and is the very top of the Fraser Coast region, across on the northern bank is Woodgate, a favourite of ours and part of the Bundaberg region.

Like Toogoom, Burrum Heads is especially popular with fishermen and boaties but there is a beach suitable for swimming.


These 10 beaches are all on Hervey Bay, sheltered from the surf and rough weather by the stunning Fraser Island. What I love most about the region is the diversity of Hervey Bay beaches. Do you want more facilities, nearby cafes and shops, waterpark, playgrounds and pier, or do you want quiet, a peaceful beach with extensive bird and marine life just offshore?

Even the inner beaches are very relaxed and quiet all year round by most peoples standards. Pialba would be the busiest with the water, skate and adventure park right on the beachfront. While it does get busier here and they have an overflow car parking area to add capacity when events are in it is usually still pretty peaceful. We were down there for several hours in the sun and saw half a dozen people on the beach, all just walking past, we were the only ones sitting there and it’s a gorgeous spot.

Cool Cabana on Pialba beach

If you found this article useful please consider saving it to Pinterest. It makes it easy for you to find again, it helps us, and it helps other travellers to find the information they are looking for.

Categories
Australia

Gallipoli to Armistice Trail, Maryborough

The Gallipoli to Armistice trail is an award-winning memorial, located in Maryborough, Queensland. It’s one of the most comprehensive tributes and informative war memorials in Australia.

It all started with a single statue of Duncan Chapman, erected in 2015. Duncan is remembered as the first Allied soldier to step foot on the sand in ANZAC cove at Gallipoli, he was also a young local man whose story could belong to thousands of others. Duncan lived a few blocks from Queens Park, he went to school here and started work as a clerk at a local law practice before enlisting in Maryborough. Like so many others, he probably anticipated his first trip overseas as an adventure not the horror story it was to be.

Gallipoli to Armistice trail, Maryborough

This initial statue was erected with funding support from local residents and continued on to inspire the Gallipoli to Armistice trail that opened in July 2018. The end result is one of the country’s top war memorials and one we’d encourage everyone to visit. We’re pleased to see it’s part of the school curriculum with groups from across South East Queensland making the trip up here for the war memorial and World Heritage Listed Fraser Island.

Duncan now stands in the centre of a large open area representing ANZAC Cove. Behind him the wooden prow of three landing boats and footprints represending the thousands who followed in his footsteps in the coming days and months. The details and symbolism throughout the exhibit is exceptional and it’s well worth studing it in some detail as you wander through.

Duncan Chapman statue Maryborough

At the foot of the statue, a handful of tiny stones are placed in the concrete and in the towering iron pillars in front that representing the cliffs of Gallipoli is a small inset box that contains soil from the cliffs, both gifted by the Queensland Turkish Consul. We understand a further gift, a relief mask of Ataturk is currently being prepared to be added.

Take a walk behind the ‘cliffs’ and you will discover storyboards sharing excerpts from the letters home sent by local men and women. During the war official news was scarce and sterilised, families gave letters to the newspapers that were published and these records have provided the basis for much of the detail in the exhibit, you’ll find extracts and stories on the boards, told through the motion-activated speakers along the trail and also behind the QR codes along the way. If you have your phone with you these provide far more depth to the story.

Information panels in the Maryborough WW1 memorial

Every detail has a purpose and architect Grant Calder incorporated some that may not immediately be apparant like the cuts marked in the concrete extending out behind the pillars here. From above the lines form the symbol of the rising sun and the spirit of ANZAC.

The timeline is marked out on the pavement as you follow the trail, the motion-triggered boxes along the way adding the sound of marching feet and further commentary. Midway through the trail, you will hear the hymn Aue e Ihu (Jesus, lover of my soul) the hymn sung by the Maori Battalion before their first battle.

Another bronze statue sits on the wall, a woman of indeterminate age, she’s dressed in her town clothes and clutches a letter, no doubt collected from the Post Office just around the corner and torn open and read as soon as she reaches the quiet of the park. She represents those at home, waiting for news from the other side of the world, the nuance in the symbolism here is is subtle, also in brass, her image wears the patina of time but differently, softer, than the soldiers at either end of the trail.

Statue of woman WW1 Maryborough

Nearby are a journalists typewriter, glasses and notebook, the sculptor’s skill in these is incredible making a twice life-size replica from the typewriter model war correspondent Charles Bean used, and working from a photo of one of his journals to replicate his handwriting legibly on the page. While many journalists wrote from afar, Charles Bean was on the ground in Gallipoli and Pozieres and it was his conversation with a dying soldier near the front in Pozieres who asked ‘will they remember me in Australia’ that inspired his vision that became the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

The trail ends with another soldiers statue, this time his uniform worn and dishevelled, a deceased soldiers helmet and gas mask slung over his arm and the haunting stare into the distance that we only now, over 100 years later begin to recognise as PTSD, the silent and largely unrecognised threat to our servicemen and women.

WW1 soldier bronze statue Maryborough

The Maryborough memorial doesn’t pull its punches, the words and emotion are raw and honest. It doesn’t shy away from topics that at times weren’t talked about and in doing so is all the more a tribute to all the men and women who gave so much for our freedom. It’s perhaps a feature of the Maryborough psyche to give recognition where it is due as its Cenotaph that lies beyond the trail and erected back in 1922 is unique in Australia in recognising equally not only army, navy and airforce but the nurses too.

Maryborough Cenetaph

Gallipoli to Armistice Trail Visitor Information

We’ve been through the trail a couple of times now and would highly recommend it as a ‘must see’ for those travelling through the area. If you would visit the National War Memorial when you are in Canberra, then you should experience the Gallipoli to Armistice trail if you are passing through the Fraser Coast. Most recently we were privileged to receive a guided tour from a local who is both a great storyteller and extremely knowledgable on the history and construction of this memorial. Normally his tours are reserved for school groups but you don’t need a guide, the memorial has all the information embedded within it to experience it at your own pace.

Accessibility: The Gallipoli to Armistice Trail is fully accessible to wheelchairs and those with mobility constraints. Wide flat paths wind through the trail and the information boards and exhibits where they can be viewed most easily. QR codes lead to website information that can be read our your own device or interpreted by screen readers. There are also seats in the exhibit to rest if needed.

Cost: The memorial is free to access at any time.

Location: On the city side of Queens park along Sussex Street. There is street parking around the city but if you want longer parking or need to park an RV for the day you’ll likely have success on the far side of Queens Park near the Brolga Theatre and enjoying a walk through the heritage listed parklands.

Time: How long to stay at the Gallipoli to Armistice trail will depend on your personal level of interest but if you want to read the boards, listen to the interactive recordings and take in the many details we’d suggest allowing at least an hour.

Enjoy your visit: We recommend wearing comfortable shoes and a sunhat as it’s an outdoor location and quite open. There are 27 storyboards on display so if you wear reading glasses you’ll want those with you too.