Picture: Lake Mackenzie, Fraser Island
Hervey Bay 
  • Whale Watching
  • Urangun Pier
  • Cycling
  • Watersports
  • Tours to Fraser Island
  • Cruises to Lady Elliot Island
  • 4WD Rental 
    Places to Eat 
    Getting There and Away 
    Getting Around Town 
    Where to Go Next
    Fraser Island 
    Getting There (Ferries) 
    Organised Tours (departing Hervey Bay) 
    4WD Rental (in Hervey Bay) 
    Island Vehicle Permits 

    Rainbow Beach

    Hervey Bay (population 40 000) 

    Five small sleepy beachside towns experienced explosive tourist growth and have merged into the one large town of Hervey Bay. Most tours and ferries to the great sandy wilderness of Fraser Island leave from Hervey Bay. 

    Scarness beach, Hervey Bay 
    Picture: Scarness beach, Hervey Bay
     The other big attraction here is whale watching. Most shops and businesses are at Pialba, but most accomodation, restaurants, cafes and pubs are at Scarness and Torquay on the Esplanade where the beach is best. There are numerous privately run information offices in Hervay Bay for Fraser Island tours and bay whale watching cruises. There is no official government tourist office. 

    Hervey Bay Attractions 

    Whale Watching Cruises 

    Humpback whales rest in the shallow warm waters of Wide Bay on their annual migration south. They can be seen from August to October. There are numerous boats taking tourists. When choosing a boat operator choose one with a fast boat to get out to the whale watching area faster. Also larger boats generally have more facilities. Cruises cost around $60. 

    Urangan Pier 

    This 1.4km long pier is at Urangan, at the eastern end of Hervey Bay, is popular with fishermen. A little further is Urangan Boat Harbour where fishing boats bring in their fresh catch of crayfish and tiger prawns. 


    A 10km bicycle track runs the length of the beach at Hervey bay. Bike hire is readily available. Expect to pay $15 a day, $10 for a half day. 


    Hervey Bay does not have a surf beach, but various watercraft and windsurfers are available for hire on the beach at Scarness and Torquay. 

    Day trips to Lady Elliot Island 

    Day trips to Lady Elliot Island at the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef cost $130 and include return flight, lunch and snorkelling equipment. Phone 1800 072200. For details see Lady Elliot Island entry on Great Barrier Reef webpage. 

    Accommodation - Hervey Bay 

    Koala Backpackers is a pleasant place with party atmosphere. 408 Charlton Esplanade, Torquay. Phone 41253601. Dorm $14, double/twin $30. Pool, bar. 

    Beaches Hervey Bay Backpackers has a party atmosphere. 195 Torquay Terrace. Phone 41241322. Dorm $15. Pool, bar. 

    Friendly Hostel is small, quiet and clean. 182 Torquay Road, Scarness. Phone 41244107. $12. 

    Colonial Backpackers’ Resort is set in 5 hectares of bush. Corner Boatharbour Drive and Pulgul St, Urangan. Phone 41251844. Bed in 3 bed dorm is $13. Twin is $14 each. Double with bathroom and kitchen is $32. Cabin for 6 with bathroom and kitchen is $45. Restaurant, bar, large pool, two tennis courts, volleyball court. 

    Boomerang Backpackers 333 Charlton Esplanade, Scarness. Phone 41243970. Most rooms are double or twin for $26. There are some dorm beds for $11. 

    Olmpus Backpackers Villas has eight separate two story apartments each with bathroom, kitchen and TV lounge. 184 Torquay Road, Scarness. Phone 41245331. Dorm $13, double/twin $38. 
    Major National Youth Hostel Chains 

    YHA - Youth Hostels Australia (Hostelling International) http://www.yha.org.au 
    VIP Backpackers http://www.vip-backpackers.com 
    Nomads Backpackers. Phone 1800 819883 or http://www.nomads-backpackers.com 

    Places to Eat 

    Most cheap eateries in Hervey Bay are on the Esplanade at Scarness and Torquay. 

    There are supermarkets at Pialba shops. 

    Getting To and From Hervey Bay 

    Hervey bay is 4 1/2 hours north on the main bus route from Brisbane. $32-$38. Bay Central bus station is off Boatharbour Drive, Pialba (nera the corner of Main St). 

    Sunstate and Flight West have daily flights between Brisbane and Hervey Bay airport, off Booral Rd, Urangan. $124. 

    Getting Around Hervey Bay 

    Infrequent buses run along the Esplanade weekdays and Saturday mornings. There are Taxis. 

    Where to Go Next from Hervey Bay 

    The great sandy wilderness of Fraser Island is well worth visiting before leaving Hervey Bay. 

    Travel north to Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef 

    Travel south to Noosa and the Sunshine Coast then onto Brisbane and the Gold Coast

    Fraser Island National Park 

    Fraser Island is the world’s largest sand island. It has long beaches, rainforest, still lakes with near perfect reflections, coloured sands, ruined ships washed ashore and wild horses. Roads are rough sandy tracks. You require a 4WD. The east coast beach doubles as the island’s main road and airstrip. The island is mostly national park and only has a couple of tiny settlements. All this will give you a real sense of adventure. There are a number of one day to three day organised tours to the island. See Hervey Bay and Rainbow Beach entries above for details on organised tours to Fraser Island, ferry times and 4WD hire. 
    Accommodation on Fraser Island 

    Dilli Village Recreation Camp Phone 41279130. A 4 bed Cabin with bathroom and kitchen is $45. Cabins without bathroom or kitchen are $10. 

    Eurong Beach Resort Phone 41279122. Beds in cabins from $12. Motel accomodation also available. 

    Yidney Rocks Cabins, Happy Valley. Phone 41279167. $65/$80 for 6/8 person cabin. 

    Fraser Island Retreat Happy Valley Resort has self contained wooden lodges. Phone 41279144. Double $160, triple $175. 

    Kingfisher Bay Resort is luxurious. Cabins for 12 with bathroom, kitchen, dining area are $30 per person. Hotel rooms are $220. Phone 1800 072555. Restaurants, bars, shops, jetty for vehicle and passenger ferries to River Heads and Hervey Bay. 4WD hire.

    Fraser Island Map

    Getting To Fraser Island from Hervey Bay 
    Either take an organised tour, or take your own 4WD on one of the ferries. 

    Vehicular and Passenger Ferries to Fraser Island 

    Fraser Venture is a vehicular ferry that leaves from River Heads, 30 minutes drive south of Hervey Bay to Wanggoolba Creek on Fraser Island. It departs River Heads daily at 9am, 10.15am 3.30pm with an extra service at 7am Saturdays. It departs Wanggoolba Creek on Fraser Island daily at 9.30am, 2.30pm and 4pm with an extra servive at 7.30am Saturdays. Book ahead. Return fare for vehicle and driver is$55. Add $3 for each additional passenger. Walk-on passengers pay $10. 

    Rainforested creek on Fraser Island 
    Picture: A sandy creek running through  
    tranquil rainforest,Fraser Island 

    Wreck of the Maheno 
    Picture: Wreck of the Maheno on the  
    unsheltered ocean side of Fraser Island

    Fraser II is a vehicular and passenger ferry that crosses from River Heads to Kingfisher Bay resort in 45 minutes departing river heads at 7am, 11am, 2pm and Kingfisher Bay at 9.45am, 12.45am and 4.30pm. The return fare for vehicle and driver is $60. Add $4 for each additional passenger. 

    Rainbow Venture vehicular ferry runs from Rainbow Beach to Fraser Island. See Rainbow Beach entry below. 

    To explore Fraser Island yourself you will need a four wheel drive vehicle with high clearance. 

    Kingfisher 3 is a passenger catamaran that crosses from Urangan Boat Harbour to Kingfisher Bay five times daily from 5.30am. Return fare is $30, children $15. 

    Fraser Dawn is a slow passenger ferry and crosses from Urangan to Moon Point. 

    A treacherous Fraser Island beach at high tide 
    Picture: A treacherous ocean beach
    on Fraser Island at high tide

    Fraser Island Organised Tours 

    The sea crossings from River Heads are short. When taking a tour to Fraser Island we recommend you use a tour company with hotel/hostel pickup that takes you to River Heads. The crossings from Urangan boat harbour are longer and are tedious if the boast is slow. Fraser Island is an exciting wilderness and you want to spend as much time there as you can rather than on the slower ferries! 

    Fraser Island tours should include ferry crossing and guided tour on a 4WD bus stopping at numerous interesting locations on the island including one of the inland lakes, a rainforest walk, the east coast beach, coloured sands and shipwreck. There are one, two and three day tours available. Another option is to fly from Hervey Bay Airport landing at Fraser Island on the east coast beach ($35). Arrange to hire a 4WD from there in advance to explore the island yourself. 

    4WD Rental in Hervey Bay 

    To travel on Fraser Island you will need a 4WD. Rental Companies in Hervey Bay include: 

    Bay 4WD Centre 54 Boatharbour Drive, Pialba. Phone 41282981. 

    Safari 4x4 Hire 55 Old Maryborough Road. Phone 1800 689819. 

    Aussie Trax 56 Boatharbour Drive, Pialba. Phone 1800 062275. 

    Expect to pay $90 a day for Suzuki Seirra or similar, $130 a day for Nissan Patrol or similar. 

    4WD hire is also available on Fraser Island at Kingfigher Bay (phone 41203366), Happy Valley (phone 41279260) and Eurong (phone 41279122). 

    Another option to cut costs is to share a 4WD with other backpackers. Hervey Bay Youth Hostels arrange this. 

    Fraser Island Permits 

    Permits are required to take vehicles onto Fraser Island and to camp. These can bo obtained from River Heads general store. Vehicle permits are $30. Camping permits are $3.50 per person per night. Permits can also be obtained from Department of Environment Offices in Rainbow Beach, Maryborough and Gympie or from Hervey Bay City Council. 

    Rainbow Beach (population 700) 

    This sleepy backwater is the southern access point to Fraser Island. From Rainbow beach drive your 4WD north along the beach for 13km to Inskip Point where the vehicular ferry makes the 10 minute crossing to Fraser Island regularly from 7am to 4.30pm. Vehicles are $45 return. Get to Rainbow Beach by the bitumen road or drive your 4WD along the beach from Noosa on the Sunshine Coast. Polley’s Coaches in Gympie run to Rainbow beach weekdays leaving Gympie at 6am and 2pm, and Rainbow Beach at 7.45am and 4pm. 

    Rainbow Beach 
    Picture: Rainbow Beach
    Sun Safari runs day trips to Fraser Island for $60 and half day trips south along the beach for $40. Phone 54863154.. 

    Rainbow Beach Backpackers hostel, 66 Rainbow Beach Road, organises day trips to Fraser Island for $95 and free trips south down the beach for guests. Their simple dorm accomodation is $12, double $30. 

    Surf and Sand Safaris runs 4 hour trips south down the beach which include the coloured sands in Cooloolah National Park for$40. Phone 54863131. See Sunshine Coast entry for more detail on Cooloolah National Park




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