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12 Things to do on the Fraser Coast

Local Jennifer Heitzmann gives us the insiderís scoop on the best things to do with kids on the Fraser Coast.

What do humpback whales, warm waters and Mary Poppins have in common? They can all be found in Hervey Bay Ė aka the heart of the Fraser Coast. Not only does this seaside town lay out the perfect welcome mat to World Heritage-listed Fraser Island, but Hervey Bay is known as Queenslandís whale-watching capital. This is the only place in the world where the mammoth mammals stay and play longer than school holidays last.

But itís not all breaching and fin-slapping here, with plenty of land activities the whole family will adore. Here is my pick of the top 12 things to do with kids.

1. Teach your kids to speak Whale

Hervey Bay is the place for migrating humpback whales to be seen from July to October each year. The warm, calm waters of the bay create the perfect detour for whales to come to rest, socialise and play, while we get a soul-stirring close encounter with one of the biggest marine animals on the planet. Warning: you might have to pick your kidsí jaws off the floor when they witness their first breach!

2. Meet Mary Poppins

It won't take a spoonful of sugar to get your kids excited to do this activity! Visit the heritage-listed bank building in Maryborough where PL Travers, the author of the much-loved literary series 'Mary Poppins', was born in 1899. Take a photo with the life-sized statue of the original supernanny and have the kids bring a crayon and notebook to draw the 10 movie characters that are etched on the brick plinths.

3. Stroll The Esplanade

Hervey Bay is blessed with kilometres and kilometres of parkland, bike paths and sandy shores overlooking the still waters of the bay. Rent bikes and take in the whole length of the 14-kilometre long pathway from Urangan to Gatakers Bay, or break it up into smaller sections and discover piers, views, parks and playgrounds along the way. Don't forget to bring your rod one afternoon to take your little anglers to fish off one of the small jetties.

 

4. Step Back in Time

Give your kids a taste of the olden days at the Hervey Bay Historical Village and Museum. More than 20 historical buildings have been gathered here, including a slab house, schoolroom, railway station, church and more. Come on a Sunday for the full, hands-on experience with volunteers dressed up in period clothes demonstrating old-time crafts such as blacksmithing and woodworking.

5. See Under the Sea

Observe the world under the waves at the all-natural Reefworld Aquarium. Complete with sharks, green sea turtles, large reef fish and crabs, and experiences such as the hands-on touch tank and marine life feedings throughout the day, this water wonderland will leave your kids happy as clams.

6. Visit Fraser Island

Fraser Island, just a 45-minute ferry ride from Hervey Bay, is one of five World Heritagelisted natural playgrounds in Queensland. For families who like the great outdoors, pack your camping gear and head off the grid. Take a four-wheel drive through the rainforests, snap the rusty SS Maheno shipwreck, tube down freshwater Eli Creek, visit Lake McKenzie, spot dingoes, hike Indian Head for a bird's-eye viewing platform to look for sharks, dolphins and whales, and enjoy some epic stargazing.

For those looking for a more civilised stay, Kingfisher Bay Resort has all the modern conveniences for a family including villa or hotel room accommodation, two full-service restaurants, a resort-style pool and tours to get you out and about on the island.

 

7. Don your Thinking Caps

If you donít have time to see everything on the Fraser Coast, you can still immerse your family in the diversity of the region at the Fraser Coast Discovery Sphere. Here itís easy to weave a little education into your holiday with an impressive, full-size humpback whale skeleton replica and childrenís activities such as marine life arts, crafts and storytelling. Donít forget the obligatory family selfie next to Nala, the giant whale out front.

8. Be a Daytripper

Discover the Great Barrier Reef in all its glory just steps from the coral beach with a Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort tour. Start your day on a scenic 40-minute flight from Hervey Bay before beginning your fully guided experience on the island. This kid-friendly outing takes you snorkelling with the turtles in the shallow lagoon and spotting manta rays in a glass-bottom boat around the island, followed by a delicious lunch.

9. Hand-feed Dolphins

This bucket list item is easy to tick off when you visit the Fraser Coast. Only about an hourís drive south of Hervey Bay, you and your budding marine biologists can get up close to the resident humpback dolphins of Tin Can Bay at Barnacles Cafe and Dolphin Centre. Bonus: no deciding where to have breakfast; you can just eat while you wait!

 

10. Indulge your inner Water Baby

With the calm waters of Hervey Bay at your feet, nowís the perfect time to try some water sports; kite surfing, paddleboarding and kayaking are all popular Hervey Bay activities. The shallow, surf-free water makes it less intimidating for the young ones to give something a go and if you donít have your own gear, try one of the beachside cafes for rentals.

11. Full Steam Ahead

Every Thursday the Mary Ann Steam Engine Ė a replica of the first steam engine built in Queensland Ė chugs her visitors around Maryboroughís Queens Park. As it coincides with the Maryborough Heritage City Markets, you can make a day out of it by grabbing a bite at a local cafe or browsing the 120 stalls of local produce, crafts and artwork.

12. Get Wild with Wildlife

Fraser Island is home to the purest strain of dingo remaining in Australia, but you donít have to visit the island to get close to one. The Fraser Coast Wildlife Sanctuary is home to many dingoes, including an albino! Thatís not all youíll see there either; the sanctuary is also home to wallabies, echidnas, birds, snakes and a host of other critters who will welcome your crew with open paws.

 

Information

www.queensland.com
www.fraserisland.net



This article appeared in volume 52 of Holidays with Kids magazine. To subscribe to the latest issue, click here.

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