Hervey Bay is renowned as a world leader in whale experiences, but that’s just one aspect of the wealth of nature-based attractions on the amazing Fraser Coast, which encompasses three World Heritage areas.
Active, adventurous travellers will find a metaphorical deep dive into the region will reveal rich experiences on both land and sea.
Choose your adventure from:
The bustling town of Hervey Bay is the jumping-off point for ocean and island encounters with marine life, and stunning landscapes. Go whale watching from July to October onboard a fleet of specially designed vessels offering eco-certified, intimate encounters with migrating humpbacks, or explore nearby K’gari/Fraser Island and Lady Elliot Island at any time of year.
Your journey to see the whales starts on land, with art and sculptures paying tribute to the humpbacks. But it is getting out on the water that makes a real connection with these gentle giants of the deep.
Winter sees humpback whales embark on an annual 5000-kilometre journey from the krill-rich feeding grounds of Antarctica to the warm waters of northern Australia to breed and give birth. The migration path, sometimes called the ‘Humpback Highway’, is a chance for memorable encounters with these majestic giants of the oceans.
The whales begin their migration in May and linger on their southward return journey in the calm waters of Platypus Bay, off the north-western coast of Fraser Island, in Great Sandy Marine Park. As they rest, socialise and play with their calves, whale- watching boats head out daily from Hervey Bay, offering a chance to see these highly sociable and curious mammals up close.
Gleaming tails flick from the ocean, giant fins wave and slap the water, and barnacled heads rise to make eye contact. Cameras click, there are gasps of delight, and arms wave wildly to attract these keen-sighted mammals, which often come close as if for a better look for themselves. It is an unforgettable and often profoundly moving experience.
Whales are also celebrated every July/August during the Hervey Bay Whale Festival, which features events like the Blessing of the Fleet, the Whale Parade and Concert, and the Paddle Out for Whales.
Lady Elliot Island, at the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef, within easy reach of the Fraser Coast, is a sanctuary for more than 1200 species of marine life, known for abundant turtles and ‘home of the manta rays’.
This coral cay is a world leader in regenerative travel, using tourism to make the planet a better place.
Situated within a highly protected ‘Green Zone’, Lady Elliot Island is the perfect place to discover a spectacular array of marine life and coral and is known as the ‘home of the Manta Ray’.
Three flights a day take day-trippers and those who want to stay longer from Hervey Bay/Fraser Coast Airport to the island, a scenic trip of around 40 minutes. Here, a different kind of adventure awaits.
Regarded as one of the Great Barrier Reef’s most thrilling snorkelling destinations, Lady Elliot is a key player in maintaining the health of the reef. In 2018, Prince Charles visited for a Reef Roundtable, meeting leaders from industry and government to discuss the protection of the reef.
For those with limited time, a day trip is still well worth taking. There’s time for an orientation tour of the island, a glass-bottom boat or guided snorkelling tour (all equipment provided), full use of the resort’s guest facilities, a buffet lunch and afternoon of snorkelling, guided tours or leisure. It’s also a bird-watcher’s paradise, with around 95 different species, offering the second highest diversity of bird species on the Great Barrier Reef.
Experienced snorkellers can join a one-hour snorkel ‘safari’, led by guides who will reveal the best locations to see sharks, turtles and majestic manta rays.
For divers, the island and surrounding reef offers an incredible 20 dive sites to explore in all their diversity.
With a few days to spend here, you’ll see exactly why Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort has been recognised for its dedication to preserving the natural heritage of this special part of the planet, winning bronze in the ecotourism category of the 2018 Australian Tourism Awards.
Make the most of your visit to the Fraser Coast by visiting K’gari/Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island.
This World Heritage-listed island is renowned for its diverse landscapes, from ancient rainforest to jewel-coloured lakes, clear creeks, ochre-hued sand cliffs and stunning stretches of beach.
Hikers will find this the best time of year to visit, exploring the sandy tracks that criss-cross the island, revealing the many beauty spots to be discovered. The Fraser Island Great Walk is a 90-kilometre-long adventure, which takes up to eight days to traverse, but offshoots offer full-day, overnight or other shorter walks.
K’gari, in the language of the island’s Butchulla people, means ‘paradise’ and at every turn you will understand why. From the cool Eli Creek to the dramatic shipwreck of the Maheno on the sands of 75 Mile Beach and the turquoise waters of the inland Lake McKenzie, each new discovery cements K’gari’s reputation as a not-to-be-missed destination.
For the adventurous, the island’s more remote but equally spectacular spots include the Champagne Pools and the emerald oasis of Lake Wabby.
If you don’t have your own 4WD – there are no sealed roads on the island – take advantage of one of the many tours available through the island’s resorts to explore all this spectacular destination has to offer.