As Far North as Hervey Bay

As Far North as Hervey Bay

Hervey Bay, the Whale Watch Capital of the World; the launch point to Fraser Island; the possessor of warm winter sun, soft sand and calm waters.

Having towed our caravan more than 1,500 kilometers from Sydney (in five “hops” over 3 weeks) we decided this was as far north as we would go.

The Pier at Torquay QLD, a suburb of Hervey Bay – 4.39pm on day of arrival

Travel a mere 2,451 kilometers further (mostly on poor to very poor roads) and one can reach the most northern “Tip” of Australia (Cape York Peninsula). Four of our friends were already on their way to the “Tip”. Two other friends were wending their way back home.

So it was just us….two intrepid explorers in Hervey Bay (plus a few million other tourists). See Kristy, I don’t “over exaggerate”!

Intrusion into Hervey Bay near Point Vernon

Hervey Bay is both the name of the city and the body of water between the coast and Fraser Island (north of the Great Sandy Straight).

We set up camp in the suburb of Torquay, on the beach of the bay. And while there are no “docks” on this bay, there are plenty of piers (one every couple of kilometers it would seem).

The Pier at Scarness, next suburb west of Torquay

Bikes paths extend all the way across Hervey Bay, from Boat Harbour (eastern end) to Point Vernon (western end). This day we were riding west, from the Torquay van park to Point Vernon and back – about 17 kilometers.

It was beautiful riding in the sun, but not warm enough to entice these beach goers to immerse themselves.

Looking back towards the Scarness Pier

After lunch we rode east, from Torquay to Boat Harbour and met this happy chappy on the way.

Bazz, Maggie and the Urangan Pier

Bazz loves to engage. He offers lollies to everyone, which he uses as his “license” to talk about “The Pier” and about raising money for the local primary school. He’s very enthusiastic about everything. Good onya’ Bazz, you’re doing a great job, mate.

Ripples on the sand at low tide – how did those annoying tourists get in this shot?
Low Tide – eastern end of Hervey Bay, with Fraser Island in background

At Boat Harbour we saw what we thought was the launching point for the following day’s visit to Fraser Island.


It turned out that River Heads (a 20 minute drive south) is currently the place to catch a ferry to Fraser Island.

We booked a bus tour, but fortunately scored two of seven seats in a comfy Toyota LandCruiser 200 4WD.

Fraser Venture ferry leaving River Heads – 45 minutes to our island destination.

Vehicles reverse onto the the ferry at River Heads, as it is not safe to reverse off at the Fraser Island pier. Buses do not “board”, so those travelling by bus, walk on and catch their designated AWD bus on the island.

Our first destination on Fraser Island was Lake McKenzie, 100 meters above sea level.

Lake McKenzie (aka The Blue Lagoon)

Remembering that Fraser Island is made entirely of sand, I was puzzled as to why a large body of water, sitting on a bed of fine white sand above sea level, did not drain away. But apparently leaves, bark and other organic matter have built up in the sand depression over time, to form an impervious barrier. There are 40 such “perched” lakes on Fraser Island.

Map of Fraser Island’s Central Station

Logging was a significant activity on the Island from 1863 until 1991. To transport logs from forest to jetty, a rail system was built. Only a few small relics of that railway remain. However a new light rail for tourism is being considered, in the belief it would be less destructive to the island than current motor transport (buses and 4WDs).

One of the better cross-island road sections on Fraser Island

Lunch was on the east coast beach, a 120 kilometer stretch of sand, aka “the Fraser Island Highway”. Top speed on “the highway” has been reduced from 100 to 80 k/h, but for some reason that still seemed very fast to me, for the conditions.

The Fraser Island Highway – approaching a 40 K/H section, “coffee rock” on the “road”
“Coffee Rock” – eroded by a small natural spring

Outcrops of so-called “Coffee Rock” (a soft conglomeration of sand and organic matter) appear along this shore. While its soft in small pieces, a large outcrop would cause damage to any vehicle that made contact traveling at speed.

During lunch up to six humpback whales displayed their seemingly effortless motion, continually breaching within our view (although not close enough for me to photograph). We didn’t see a lot of other wild life, which surprised me; no Dingos, snakes, lizards and not many birds. These two visited our lunch table however.

(Red eyed, orange-red billed) Australian Pied Oystercatchers

Finding the beach crowded from Eli creek to the shipwreck, our tour guide Brett, took us further north to see the coloured sands.

The Pinnacles (multicoloured sands), Maggie and our “bus”

Then it was back south to see the shipwreck.

The SS Maheno, once a luxury 122 meter long, turbine steam ship, beached in 1935
Eli Creek – a favourite “swimming hole” for tourists

It certainly was still busy here.

The “car park” at Eli Creek
The Beach at Kingfisher Bay Resort (Hervey Bay / western side of the island)
The Jetty at Kingfisher Resort – our point of arrival and departure

Straight ahead and through the gate to the right for access to the ferry. Veer left at the end for fishing and small boat access.

With the sun sneaking behind a cloud the light completely changed.

The Jetty’s left side offshoot in soft, cool, less yellow light
Leaving Fraser Island around 5.30 pm

Wow, what a day, what a stay. We’d gone even further north than Hervey Bay; we’d reached The Pinnacles.

Well, Caloundra (QLD), Byron Bay (NSW) and Port Macquarie (NSW) are now calling. Time to make a move.

  • Kevin @ Bev G.
    Posted at 09:46h, 02 September Reply

    Beautiful photos, Alister. I can’t help thinking that you should take your portfolio with you when you sail the Mediterranean to show the locals what the term ” glorious sundrenched golden beaches, and pristine blue seas” mean.
    We sure are inhabitants of a lovely “lucky” country!
    Thank you for this sparkling episode. K’n’B.

    • alistairstravel
      Posted at 11:52h, 02 September Reply

      Thanks for this comment Kevin. We are very fortunate to live in this country.

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