Not surprisingly, the coolest place to be these school holidays is the same place that attracts most visitors to the region, K’gari (Fraser Island). Forget the Game Boy’s and leave the DVD players at home because all the kids will need to bring with them is a pool noodle and a sense of adventure.
Ranked at the top of the family favourite list is, of course, the always-stunning Lake McKenzie, as well as the rest of the Big Six – Indian Head, 75 Mile Beach, Eli Creek, Champagne Pools and Central Station. If you don’t have the time or the 4WD pulling-power to get you there, there are plenty of kid-friendly tour options departing Hervey Bay daily.
Hervey Bay Historical Village & Museum
Hervey Bay hasn’t always been a hot tourist destination. Life was difficult for early settlers during the 19th and early 20th century. The area cultivated a rich history that is being preserved in large thanks to the Hervey Bay Historical Village & Museum.
The museum will captivate the imagination of the whole family with interactive demonstrations, as well as the opportunity to freely explore the 1.2 hectare grounds, consisting of over 10 buildings and 12,000 items preserved from the era. Admission costs are just $10 for adults and children 14 and under are $3. Click here to find out more.
Wetside Water Park, Hervey Bay
Officially opened in 2019 as part of Queensland’s 150th Birthday Celebrations, Wetside Water Park is Hervey Bay’s answer to Wet ‘N’ Wild that will have the kids begging not to leave. The best part? It won’t cost you a thing – that’s right, entry into Wetside Water Park is completely free. We love a win-win situation!
Located along the foreshore right in between Pialba Caravan Park and the Seafront Oval, the hectare of water fun includes hundreds of spouts, interactive equipment, slides, tipping buckets, music, a giant water screen, under-five play area, educational displays, amenities blocks as well as a pay-as-you-go wave rider.
Mum and dad can grab a coffee nearby and relax while watching the kids away from the splash zone around the various viewing decks and boardwalks. Wetside Water Park’s opening hours vary from day to day, so be sure to check out their website for an up to date timetable.
The Charlton Esplanade, Hervey Bay
If you follow the red-brick-road, a path that stretches 17km along the foreshore from Urangan Boat Harbour to Gatakers Bay (quite literally from one end of town to the other), you will be left wondering where all the hours in the day have gone. Channel your inner Hansel and Gretal as you make your way along and come across a variety of parks, green space and BBQ facilities. The bigger kids will love the Hervey Bay Adventure Playground, a short stroll away from Wetside Water Park featuring a multitude of slides standing over 7-meters off the ground, as well as climbing equipment, sandpits, swings, a native beehive, beautiful gardens and wheel-chair friendly playgrounds.
The Ernie Organ Train Park is a large, shady area featuring a train and the infamous ‘hampster wheel’ – as well as a see-saw, turn style, swings, beachfront access and pier. The park offers lots of undercover picnic tables, chairs and BBQ’s to feed the gang after burning off all that energy.
The Urangan Pier, Hervey Bay
The Urangan Pier is Hervey Bay’s unofficial heart of the city. In fact, most would argue that no trip to Hervey Bay is complete until you take a lazy stroll down one of Australia’s longest piers.
With 868-meters of boardwalk to stretch your legs, it is the perfect place to blend in with the locals and throw a line in. Whether you have some budding fishermen on your hands or you want to create special memories for the first time together, you can head down to any of the local service stations to grab some bait and you’re off! Head to Fisho’s Tackle World Hervey Bay to check in with the tide times before you head out, as low tide might leave you stranded!
The Botanic Gardens, Hervey Bay
The best things in life are free and the Hervey Bay Botanic Gardens is set on 26 hectares of it for you and the family to explore. Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and spend the day bushwalking without having to drive to a national park to do it.
The gardens feature an abundance of native and foreign plants alike. Explore local varieties that stem from 6000-year-old sand dunes, watch the turtles and ducks swim in the large pond, as well as some other favourites The Bush Tucker and Chinese Garden. There is also an Orchid House, filled with over 15, 000 plants including several rarely seen varieties. The gardens are set smack-bang in the middle of town, located off Elizabeth Street in Urangan, so it is easily accessible via public transport or within walking distance from the Charlton Esplanade.
The Story Bank, Maryborough
Opened in 2019, just in time for P.L. Travers 150th birthday celebrations, The Story Bank will let the kid’s imaginations run wild. Time travel back to where it all began, inside the building where the author who gave the world its most cherished nanny was born.
That’s right, the Fraser Coast is not all whales and Fraser Island! The region has a special connection to the practically perfect in every way, Mary Poppins. Author, P.L. Travers was born in the upstairs bedroom of the old Australian Joint Stock Bank on the 9th of August, 1899 in Maryborough, Queensland. The now heritage-listed building has been transformed into a supercalifr… you know the rest, story bank.
The Story Bank has beautifully preserved the memory of P.L. Travers and the magical legacy she left behind in Mary Poppins. Explore the beautifully restored upstairs bedroom and other features including a Theaterette, Library of Inspiration, Cabinet of Curiosities and create your own story to be submitted into The Story Vault. Enjoy interactive displays, activities as well as unique take-homes at the retail cottage.
Entry is just $10 per adult and $5 per child (group bookings and concession prices are also available). For more information or to book, visit the website.
Queens Park, Maryborough
Queens Park is heritage-listed and one of Australia’s earliest dated botanic gardens. With over 5 hectares to explore, the kids will love playing the world’s best game of hide and seek amongst the rolling green hills, river views and towering old Banyan Trees. There is a playground, amenities block and plenty of BBQs and picnic tables to take advantage of.
There is also Mary Ann Steam Train Rides manned by the volunteers from the Maryborough City Whistle Stop Inc. available every Thursday and the last Sunday of the month. Board the train alongside the platform located next the Mary River pathway for just $3 per adult and $2 per child.
Fraser Coast Wildlife Sanctuary, Maryborough
Welcome to the Fraser Coast Wildlife Sanctuary! Here, not only will you find Skippy, but an array of his closest pals including other macropods, emus, dingoes, reptiles and birds. Make sure you attend the daily feeding sessions of the kangaroos, wallabies, wallaroos and emus. Be sure to arm yourself with plenty of grapes, Penelope the common wallaroo will be waiting (don’t say we didn’t warn you!).
Wildlife warriors will also love the dingo or snake experiences, available daily (just ask instore!). Little chatterboxes will have a ball saying hello to the parrots – many who will even say hello back! With an abundance of native and exotic wildlife on display, the whole family will be taken on a wild guinea fowl chase they will never forget.
Completely run by a dedicated team of volunteers, the Fraser Coast Wildlife Sanctuary is a not-for-profit facility that will provide a tur-tally great morning or afternoon out for the whole family! With plenty of green space available (perfect for a picnic!), why not make it a whole day out of adventures. There are light refreshments available instore (including cold drinks, ice creams and chips), as well as a great range of souvenirs so the fun can continue once you have arrived back home.
Admission fees are very affordable, with adult tickets just $15 and children $12 (group bookings and concession fees are also available). All the proceeds of course heading straight back into the preservation of the sanctuary. Keep an eye out for $2 Sunday’s, on every third Sunday of the month. For more information, head to the website.
Hervey Bay Discovery Sphere
Before you head out and explore the natural wonders of the Great Sandy Biosphere, get to know the locals at the Fraser Coast Discovery Sphere. Immerse yourself into the incredible and wondrous world of the 5th largest creature on earth, the humpback whale. The simulated, underwater encounter with these gentle giants, as well as the full-scale reproduction of a humpback whale skeleton will get you prepared so you know what you’re looking for with the real deal. #whalesherveybay
Explore beautifully preserved artifacts from native flora and fauna, interactive displays, games and educational tools. Learn more about the fascinating natural history of the Fraser Coast, as well as the rich indigenous history from the traditional owners of the land, the Butchulla people, an odd-thousand year in the making.
The kids will love the hands-on learning and interactive challenges. Don’t forget to take your #selfie with the 12-meter sculpture of one of Hervey Bay’s most iconic whale, Nala before you go, and for those cultural buffs, make sure you also head to the Hervey Bay Regional Gallery.
The Fraser Coast Discovery Sphere is open seven days, 10-4pm (excluding some public holidays). Entry fees are just a cold coin donation. For more information, head to the website.