Lake McKenzie

30 things to do on the Fraser Coast

If visiting the Fraser Coast isn’t on your bucket list, then you’ might want to revisit your life’s priorities.

Sitting about two hours’ drive from the Sunshine Coast and three and a half hours from Brisbane, its two biggest draw cards are the world’s largest sand island Fraser Island, and one of very first spots in the world to be crowned a Whale Heritage Site, Hervey Bay. But these spectacular highlights aren’t the only reasons to visit this special part of the world.

Skip over from the mainland to a sunny, sandy island with us as we take you through the top things to do on the Fraser Coast.

Getting there

Accessible from cities and ports close by including the Whitsundays, you’ve got options depending on what kind of route you’d like to take. Passenger ferries and vehicle barges make multiple trips a day, while the dedicated Fraser Coast Airport services direct flights from Brisbane and Sydney.

Once you’re there

Whale watching Hervey Bay

If you’re driving, make regular stops to drink in the scenery, as the entire Fraser Coast is around 180km (approx. 2 hours drive).

There are plenty of self-drive tours that depart from Hervey Bay, Rainbow Beach and Noosa, as well as regular tour buses.

1.Let’s start with those magnificent humpback whales. Get close enough to feel the sea spray from their breach while watching them swim in their natural playground. To witness these magnificent creatures, visit between July and October.

2. If you’re in Hervey Bay between October and July, book a half-day dolphin pod watching tour with Blue Dolphin Fraser Island Eco Adventure Sail, where you might also get treated to a visit by some extra guests (turtles and dugongs).

3. Go stand up paddleboarding (hired from Enzo’s on the Beach) and take in Hervey Bay from a different view.

4. Find a new appreciation for ordinary Australians who achieved the extraordinary at the Maryborough Achievers Walk. Read about Hayden Kenny – the original Ironman and Duncan Chapman – the first ANZAC to land at Gallipoli.

5. Get the catch of the day every day at these top fishing spots in Hervey Bay.

Fishing Hervey Bay

6. Slumber with the view of a million stars and pitch a tent on Fraser Island. Take your pick from 35 camping spots – from national parks to beachfronts.

7. Wind your way through the Great Beach Drive and stare in awe at the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Marine Park.

8. You might be surprised to discover that Mary Poppins was written by one of Australia’s own – P.L. Travers – and your road trip just happens to be in her birthplace. Visit the life-sized statue in front of the building where the author was born, then check out town hall to see characters etched on the brick plinths and footpath.

9. Take a chartered scuba and deep dive beneath the surface for a few days aboard the Freedom III and stop at Lady Musgrave Island and other Southern Great Barrier Reef hot spots.

10. Inner tubing has never been more peaceful – float down Eli Creek and dip a toe or ten in Lake McKenzie.

11. Meander through the historic pub trail in Maryborough and get a taste of beer with a side of history.

12. If you’ve always wanted to try it or are a seasoned expert, there’s plenty of birdwatching opportunities on the Fraser Coast. 250 species have been identified, and depending on the time of year you might spot some of the visitors that fly in from Japan, Alaska and Siberia.

13. You can’t do the Fraser Coast without getting up close to the famed Maheno Shipwreck that ran aground in 1935. Walk, swim or fly around it to take in its rusty frame set against the crystal blue water.

14. Visit the Thursday Maryborough Markets and nibble on farm fresh produce while you wander the stalls and chat to locals.

15. Explore Hervey Bay by jet skiing in it and the surrounding Great Sandy Strait.

16. Live out your outback fantasies and go horse riding through the farmlands and bush of the Susan River Homestead Adventure Resort, a 1660 acre property. There’s a horse for every age and level of experience, so saddle up.

17. Get out of town and indulge in a private villa at Fraser Island’s Kingfisher Bay Resort.

18. Surround yourself in lush greenery, florals bursting with colour and perfectly manicured lawns at the Hervey Bay Botanic Gardens. There’s an Australian bush tucker garden, a Chinese garden and a 20,000 strong Orchid House.

19. Pay a visit to feed green sea turtles, starfish and reef sharks at Reefworld Aquarium in Urangan.

20. Take a bush walk through the Burrum Coast National Park and explore the serene melaleuca wetlands, paperbark swamps and banksia woodlands.

Things to do with kids on the Fraser Coast

Banksia Track at Burrum Coast National Park

21. Pack a feast and head down to the Mary River Parklands to admire the new wharf while you bask under the shade trees. See if you can spot the Maryborough Bollards: seven painted timber posts that show a sea captain welcoming a family of immigrants at the Port of Maryborough in the 1860s.

22. Kick start a new hobby by diving in Roy Rufus, the largest artificial reef in the southern hemisphere. Follow fish as they dart around car bodies, tyres, concrete pipes, two barges and four coral-covered ships.

23. Escape to the Fraser Coast Hinterland and toast the serenity and good old country hospitality. Visit the home of the macadamia nut, eat in historic pubs, and fish in the Mary River.

24. Go on a sunset sail complete with champagne and golden hour light.

25. Look back in time at Maryborough’s past on a two-hour historical scenic tour.

Maryborough Heritage Centre

26. Glide over Lady Elliot Island on a scenic flight to explore the reef from above, over glass-bottom boat and shoreside in one day.

27. Spend quality time with the family and discover new things together at the Fraser Coast Discovery Sphere, where interactive displays and immersive encounters will teach everyone a thing or two about the Great Sandy Biosphere.

28. Bliss out and retreat to Spa Botanica in Oceans Resort for the signature Ocean’s Delight treatment – complete with body wrap, hot stone massage and facial.

29. View the amazing rotating artwork on display at the Hervey Bay Regional Gallery, with new exhibitions every 6-8 weeks.

30. Serve up your chef skills at an Italian cooking class run by Rocco and Mara at their gorgeous country B&B, Villa Cavour.