Why Hervey Bay Can Be A Great Long Weekend Destination

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Hervey Bay Can Be A Great Place for a Long Weekend

Hervey Bay has long served as a gateway to K'Gari, or Fraser Island. Because of that, it might be seen as a stopover rather than a destination for some. Travelers often focus more on visiting Fraser Island than exploring everything Hervey Bay has to offer. 

From incredible whale-watching tours to the picturesque sunset sails that will make for lifelong memories, there’s a lot that makes Hervey Bay a bucket list trip.

This guide covers everything that makes Hervey Bay an excellent long-weekend destination. Read on!


Why Hervey Bay Is the Ideal Location for a Long Weekend

Hervey Bay has a dominant retiree population, but that doesn’t mean the younger generation will have nothing to do here. 

There are several activities throughout Hervey Bay for the young and the young at heart. One of the main draw cards of Hervey Bay is its wide open beaches. While they are very tidal, the water is flat and calm and is suitable for everyone, which means you don't have to worry about small children coping with swell like you do on the Gold Coast for example.

Whether you’re a sporty person who likes to dive in and indulge in water sports or someone looking to unwind at the beach, there’s something for everyone at this charming coastal getaway. 

Where is Hervey Bay?

If you are from South East Queensland you will have heard of Hervey Bay, however if you aren't from the area or are an overseas visitor to Australia you might never have heard of this small city in Australia. Hervey Bay is a coastal town about 30km's from Maryborough in south east Queensland.

In the early part of the 20th century, Maryborough was the major town in the area with industries like logging and ship building ensuring reliable long term employment. Hervey Bay was at this point a small fishing village that was used by the local people as a weekend and holiday destination.

Over the years, Hervey Bay has risen to be the larger town and is way more well known than Maryborough now. While I am originally from Maryborough, when people ask now I say Hervey Bay as I know they will know where that is.

While that is a lot of people, Hervey Bay's biggest asset is how its kept is beachside charm. I go back every few years (sometimes more often) and I always know where everything is and am always impressed by how little it changes for the most part. Sure there are WAY more people than when I was a child, but the esplanade is still a great walking spot, the beach is still great and you can still walk out the pier at dawn or dusk and be mostly on your own.

Getting to Hervey Bay

Hervey Bay is around 300 kilometres from Brisbane and just under that from Gladstone. It is also easily accessible in under a few hours drive from western towns like Biloela, Eidsvold, Mundubbera, Gayndah and of course Gympie.

Its proximity to a large area has build Hervey Bay into a bustling holiday and residential area that now has a population of over 60,000. Maryborough by comparison has around 28,000 residents.

Hervey Bay is easy to get to and the turn offs are very well signed.

Driving To Hervey Bay from the North.

If you are heading south to the bay, you simply stay on the Bruce Highway (Highway A1) and turn off at Torbanlea following the signs to Hervey Bay.

Alternatively if you would like to go through Maryborough, just keep going and turn left at Pallas Street which will take you all the way through to the Bay. It will add 30km to the trip though. If you're coming this way 80 Walker Street was my grandma's house. Check it out – it is so Queensland!

Google Maps directions to Hervey Bay from Gladstone

My grandma's house in Walker Street, Maryborough
My grandma's house in Walker Street, Maryborough

Driving to Hervey Bay from the South

Driving north from the Sunshine Coast, Brisbane or the Gold Coast is just as easy. Follow the A1 to Maryborough, turning off at Walker Street (which was the street my Grandma lived on) and following that through the city and turning left on Pallas Street to head to the Bay.

Google Maps directions to Hervey Bay from Brisbane


Top Things to Do in Hervey Bay

Plenty of things make this easy to visit destination well worth a visit. These include:

Explore Fraser Island – A Unique Attraction in Hervey Bay

No trip to Hervey Bay is complete without a visit to Fraser Island. It is one of the main reasons why the world even knows about Hervey Bay, which offers some of the most fascinating experiences.

Fraser Island is one of Australia's most stunning natural wonders, offering diverse landscapes, unique wildlife like the Aussie Dingo, golden beaches, freshwater lakes, and unforgettable thrills like 4WD adventures. 

Those seeking an island adventure will never fall short of things to explore here and while a lot of visitors only do a day tour, if you have the time a few days will allow you to see much more of the island. 

Why is it called K'Gari and Fraser Island?

The island has just been formally renamed its indigenous name of K'Gari. It is kind of strange because we knew it as K'Gari as kids but somehow its only just been given its original name. Fraser Island has been used for so long that it will take some time before visitors only search for K'Gari – which is why you see both names everywhere at the moment.

Lake Mackenzie at dawn, K'Gari (Fraser Island)
Lake McKenzie at dawn, K'Gari (Fraser Island)

The photo above is Lake Mckenzie (Boorangoora) on K'Gari (Fraser Island) at around 6am in the middle of winter. The image below is at 9am – which pretty much showcases how most people see Lake McKenzie.

Lake MacKenzie in full daylight
Lake McKenzie (Boorangoora) in full daylight

If you have the time and its the right season, consider hiking the Great K'Gari Walk which is just under 100km and follows the central spine of the island. You can do the walk in as little as 4 or 5 days or take your time and spent 8 or 9 days hiking the trails.

I did this walk with some friends in July and loved it. It isn't super hard but you do cover over 2000 meters in elevation change over the week of walking. I can highly recommend it as a multiday hike and there are multiple points where you can get in or out if you are wanting to do just a few days instead of the entire walk.

Check out Qld Gov's website for more info on the great walk.

Jen in amongst the trees hiking K'Gari Great Walk
That's me in amongst the trees hiking K'Gari Great Walk

Tours to K'Gari (Fraser Island) From Hervey Bay

Single Day Tours to K'Gari (Fraser Island) from Hervey Bay

You can see a lot of K'Gari in just a day, especially if you aren't the one doing the driving. Its a short ferry ride of around half an hour, however, the island is a sand island and is only accessible to those with good clearance 4wd's AND those who know how to actually use them properly. You can't take a 2wd drive car to K'Gari and even if you have a 4×4, don't attempt the island unless you are an experienced 4wder.

I would take a tour. They know where they are going and you just have to relax and see all the best parts of the island.


Two or Three Day Trips to K'Gari

If you have 2 or 3 days, consider doing a multi day trip to Fraser Island. Both these trips below are not camping, which makes them really comfortable trips. I've actually done the 3 day one and loved it.



Whale-Watching From Hervey Bay

There’s no better spot for whale watching than Hervey Bay, unofficially referred to as the whale-watching capital of the world.

Get up close with the majestic humpback whales, who use Hervey Bay as a resting point during their migration months from July to October. They’re known for displaying curious and playful behavior around the boats, allowing you to get some close encounters with them in the wild. 

The bay is a nursery too. So, you can see mothers and calves interact most endearingly. 

There are various whale-watching tour options, including boat cruises and charters here. They cater to different preferences and budgets, ensuring a comfortable and accessible experience for all.

I understand that most people won't ever have my experience patting a wild whale, so doing a whale watching tour in Hervey Bay is possibly the closest you will ever get. The boats are great, they operate safely and it is just amazing to see these incredible creatures.

Whale Watching Tours In Hervey Bay

Whale watching season starts around mid July and ends late October, sometimes extending into November. Make sure you book early. Boats sell out quickly during the peak season. I would make sure you are well into August to be sure and see as many whales as you can.


The whale I patted off Dunsborough Western Australia
The whale I patted off Dunsborough Western Australia. Isn't he amazing!

Fishing in Hervey Bay – A Relaxing Pastime

The Bay is packed with a diverse range of fish species, including mackerel, tuna, red emperor, trout, and marlin, making it great for anglers of all skill levels. From coastal fishing to estuaries and reefs, Hervey Bay is no less than a fisher's paradise with its variety of fishing environments in crystal-clear waters.

There are lots of accessible fishing spots along the coastline or from piers that make it easy to cast your lines without any problems. 

If you’ve just gotten into fishing and want some help, fishing charters and knowledgeable guides are in the area to help you make the experience a lot easier and enjoyable. 

Whiting is one of the main catches, with Bream, Flathead, Code and Trevally also common. During the right season you might see Tuna or Threadfin Salmon as well.

If you find yourself in Hervey Bay with no boat, do not fear. Get in touch with Hervey Bay Sport Fishing as they do fishing tours in the area.


Do a Sunset Sail

The coast in Hervey Bay is beautiful, and the sunsets are unlike any others you might’ve seen. So, while you’re here, you must get on a sunset cruise. 

You’ll get lovely panoramic views of the coastline and spot the resident dolphins and dugongs as you sail the calm waters, all while sipping on a glass of champagne. 

Sunset Sails In Hervey Bay

These tours are all highly recommended on Get Your Guide, however try the Indigenous one. There is nothing like an amazing sunset and the Didgeridoo in the background.



Have Lunch Beachside

Enjoy a meal while overlooking the stunning vistas of Hervey Bay's coastline. The sound of waves adds beautifully to the overall ambiance. Beachside eateries offer diverse menus catering to different tastes, but they all excel in the local cuisine. 

Beachside Bar and Grille is a great casual place in Pialba for an early dinner. The close at 7:30 so be sure and order well before that. You can find an abundance of seafood here, including prawns, fish, oysters, and more, but fish and chips are their specialty. 

Enzo's On The Beach is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I love this place. The food is good, the prices reasonable but it does get busy so be sure to book if you want a specific time slot.

Aquavue Beachfront Bar & Eatery is open for breakfast and lunch Monday through Thursday and is also open for dinner Friday and Saturday. Sunday they close at 6:30 but its a great place for sunset drinks on a Sunday afternoon.

Most beaches even have picnic spots where you can set up your little space and enjoy the sea breeze while savouring your favourite meal. 

A beachside seat in Hervey Bay, Queensland
If you're on a budget, grab some great cold foods from the supermarket and sit on one of these great beachside chairs watching the sunset as you eat.

Spend the Day at the Beach

It’s hard to resist the scenic beaches of Hervey Bay. Whether you’re at Torquay or Scarness, you’ll have a great time with plenty to do. The beaches are a popular attraction for those seeking the thrill of watersports and activities like skiing, snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, and canoeing.

Both beaches are great for all swimmers, including kids, as the water is calm. There are also ample picnic spots with facilities, including BBQ areas, perfect for a beachside lunch or gathering.

Just be aware that the shallow bay is very affected by tides. Swimming at low tide just isn't possible in Hervey Bay so be sure to check the tide times before you plan your beach day.

Hervey Bay Tide Times


Walk the Urangan Pier

The Urangan Pier holds great historical significance to the area. It was built for transporting goods from large ships in 1913.

Today, the 868-meter-long pier is great for a leisurely walk with benches along the way, so you can easily take breaks while soaking in the views. You can even fish from the pier, with an opportunity to catch the prized whiting. Stroll to the end of the Pier to spot dolphins and stingrays. 

There are many cafes and BBQs around, so you can spend the sunset relaxing and cooking your catch!

Urangan Pier - A preferred fishing spot in Hervey Bay
Urangan Pier, showing you just how far out the tide can go in Hervey Bay

How to Plan Your Long Weekend in Hervey Bay

Decide on the dates for your long weekend getaway in Hervey Bay. Make sure to consider factors like weather, availability, and any special events or activities happening during that time.

Research and book accommodations in advance. Even if it’s off-season, Hervey Bay offers a range of options, from beachfront resorts to cozy bed-and-breakfasts, catering to different preferences and budgets.

Plan your days, setting time aside for activities while leaving room for relaxing. Check the weather forecast and pack the appropriate clothing and gear for activities such as swimming, hiking, or beach outings.

Make reservations at the restaurants you intend to go to. Generally, though, it’s great to walk around the area and explore the popular places to eat in person,


Jenny Marsden - Charge The Globe
About the author

Meet Jenny, a passionate Australian travel blogger who has explored 103 countries to date. With over 30 years of travel experience, Jenny has a wealth of knowledge to share with her readers about the cultures, landscapes, and people she has encountered on her journeys. She's always battling unfashionably frizzy hair and you will never catch Jenny in anything but comfortable shoes. Learn more about Jenny and her travels.


Where to Stay In Hervey Bay 

Hervey Bay offers a range of accommodation options for all budgets. The following are some of the best hotels you can choose to stay for a pleasant, feel-like-home experience:

Kondari Hotel

Surrounded by 20 acres of lush tropical gardens, the Kondari Hotel offers a serene escape in Hervey Bay. This 3-star accommodation has modern air-conditioned rooms and all the amenities you could need for a pleasant stay, including a restaurant, bar, and an outdoor swimming pool.

Each room at The Kondari has tea and coffee-making facilities and a private bathroom. Some of the rooms even offer a kitchenette with a microwave. 

You have access to the Cascades Bistro & Bar, offering indoor and outdoor seating that overlooks the lagoon and perfect for enjoying sunset views. 

Kondari Hotel is a brief stroll from Urangan Pier and a short drive from Hervey Bay Marina. 

For those seeking adventure, the tour desk facilitates day trips to Fraser Island and Lady Elliot Island, catering to diverse explorations.

Features:

  • Flat screen tv
  • Free Parking
  • Non-smoking rooms
  • Terrace
  • Picnic area

Rooms starting at US $105. 

Eden By the Bay

Right along the Esplanade with amazing views of Scarness Beach foreshore, Eden by the Bay offers a 4-star retreat. 

Guests can opt for either rooms or self-contained apartments, all with air conditioning, a refrigerator, and a balcony overlooking Scarness Beach. 

Most accommodations even have a fully equipped kitchenette.

The town center is 5 minutes away. Urangan Boat Harbour, a 10-minute drive away, offers ferry services to the renowned Fraser Island. 

For travelers' convenience, Hervey Bay Airport is less than a 15-minute drive from the property.

Features:

  • Outdoor swimming pool
  • Wellness center
  • Free WiiFi

Rooms starting at US $115.

Ramada by Wyndham Hervey Bay

Located along the Esplanade near the Urangan Harbour, Ramada by Wyndham Hervey Bay is perfect for a lavish, 5-star experience. The hotel features an outdoor pool, a rejuvenating spa, and a fine dining restaurant. 

Smokey Joe’s Café Bar & Grill welcomes guests with its daily breakfast and dinner buffets. There’s also live entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights.

The reception desk offers invaluable advice on the finest Fraser Coast tours, including captivating excursions to Fraser Island and thrilling whale-watching experiences. Additionally, guests can enjoy complimentary bike hire and in-room movie options.

Features:

  • Outdoor swimming pool
  • Balcony
  • BBQ facilities
  • Fitness center
  • Flat-screen TV
  • Bicycle rental
  • Free WiFi
  • Tea and coffee makers
  • Bar

Rooms starting at US $121 with breakfast options.


The Best Time to Visit Hervey Bay

Hervey Bay is one of those places you can go almost any time of year due to its welcoming subtropical climate. But the experience you’ll have might be drastically different accordingly. 

The most popular time to visit the spot is during the whale-watching season, occurring between July and November. This is the prime whale-watching season in Hervey Bay, especially from August to October, as it is when humpback whales migrate along the coast with their young. 

The weather is generally mild, and you have a high chance of witnessing these magnificent creatures.

The shoulder seasons occur March to May and September to November. They offer mild temperatures, fewer crowds, and pleasant weather, making it an ideal time for various outdoor activities without the peak tourist rush.

Hervey Bay summer begins in December and lasts till March, with warm and humid weather engulfing it. However, you might see some light rain during this period too. So, expect more visitors and vibrant beach atmospheres during this time. It's perfect for water-based activities and beach outings, but it can also get busier during this time.

Hervey Bay is very popular during school holidays so if you would prefer a crowd free vacation book your stay outside these times.

When you go to Hervey Bay, you must keep the weather, the whale-watching likelihood, and the crowds in mind. Do some research and plan your long weekend in Hervey Bay accordingly. 

The flat calm beach at Scarness Hervey Bay
The flat calm beach at Scarness Hervey Bay

Conclusion: Why You Should Consider Hervey Bay for Your Next Long Weekend

Hervey Bay is perfect for your next long weekend getaway. It is where natural beauty meets diverse experiences. 

Witness the breathtaking migration of humpback whales, explore the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef from Lady Elliot Island, and unwind at the serene Torquay or Scarness Beaches. 

Whether you want to explore the wildlife or simply need a relaxing coastal escape, Hervey Bay has it all!