Exploring Queensland: Hervey Bay and whales

Thursday afternoon (27 August) having done a few bits and pieces around the boat we both confessed to being really bored! There are still some boat jobs needed but we don’t want to do them until we have the nod to go sailing…. Sigh…..

Friday morning we went out for breakfast at The Galley.

Whilst there we decided to do another short road trip especially as our wedding anniversary was coming up. So we rented a car from the local hire company; reserved a self-catering apartment in Hervey Bay; and booked a whale watching tour for the Wednesday morning. So another adventure to look forward to once again! In the late afternoon we picked up the courtesy car and I did a bit of shopping while Richard installed the new cleat that had just arrived from the US (we couldn’t get a matching one anywhere else). This was an additional one for the cockpit (on the starboard side) so we now have somewhere to tie everything off leaving the winches clear for active sheets…. Definitely an improvement.

Saturday morning we headed out to Paradise Point but the wind was up and it was a bit chilly so we decided not to stay there but we did enjoy watching the huge numbers of tiny crabs on the beach.

So we drove down to The Spit at Southport and enjoyed a few hours and a picnic on the beach. Even got some ice creams from the travelling boat man.

On the way back to Morphie we stopped off at Hope Island marina and had a couple of drinks in a waterside wine bar which was quite nice. Back on board we cheated and just heated up pizza for tea.

Sunday morning it was very damp after some heavy rain overnight. It was cloudy and cold so was definitely not picnic or beach weather. So we did the laundry and packed our bags in preparation for our forthcoming trip. Later in the afternoon we drove down to Oxenford to pick up the hire car and was surprised that it was a new MG3. I drove the courtesy car back while Richard drove the hire car. We then had a quiet night on board.

Monday morning, very early, we returned our courtesy car to the marina and then had breakfast in the Galley to set us up for the day. By 8 am we were on our way and I was driving this time for the 400km run north, mostly on motorway. Wasn’t expecting the motorway to be single track though for the last 100km or so though LOL. Oh yes, why do Australians have car washes and dog washes together?!?

We arrived at our apartment block around 1pm and got checked in, found the underground car park and headed up to the third floor to unpack. The apartment was a bit dated but was well equipped and quite spacious with everything we needed.

We then headed out to explore the area a little bit and walked the beach; did some food shopping; went to the nearby pub for a couple of drinks before heading back. I didn’t fancy cooking so had a takeaway Chinese from the nearby restaurant and had a quiet night in. A lot of the bars and restaurants in Hervey Bay were either closed completely due to Covid – presumably the limited numbers allowed within each venue made them untenable?? – or were working limited hours with many of them closing mid afternoon. Very few visitors around either.

Tuesday morning we headed to the beach across the road (Torquay Beach). Wow it was a blisteringly hot day with no wind.

There was little shade so we had had enough after a couple of hours and took ourselves back to the apartment block’s small pool area. This was nice and became our own oasis as no-one else used it.

Later on we headed out again in the car as we wanted to check where we had to board the whale watching boat the following morning. We were fascinated by the old wooden houses that were being renovated or re-sited so many of them were up on stilts. This area was originally settled back in the 1850s so has quite a heritage feel to it in places.

We found the embarkation place where Richard had a few words with the life-sized humpback whale model on the promenade.

We then had a drink at the Hervey Bay Boat Club. This is a huge place with pokies (casino-type slot machines), restaurants, outside deck, bars etc etc. It also had two cinemas within the complex and used to have live music most nights. Would imagine, in a non-Covid age, this would be the place to be of an evening. We stayed inside as the wind made it far too cold to sit outside and with so few people around it all felt a bit sad.

So we moved on and came across a nice looking restaurant called Cafe Baleana which was doing a roaring trade – so we popped in and made a reservation for the following night so at least we could go out to dinner to celebrate our wedding anniversary. We then went to the pub for a final sundowner before returning to the apartment for dinner.

Wednesday morning we headed out very early to the marina complex and had a coffee whilst we waited for the boat to be readied.

Finally we boarded and took up seats at the bow of the boat so had our spot for the morning. It was pretty chilly when the boat finally departed the marina and did over 20 knots into Hervey Bay and towards Fraser Island. We had sailed south from Bundaberg through this area in November 2019 so it was interesting to see it from a different perspective. But we had missed the annual humpback whale migration that comes up from the cold waters of Antarctica to the sub-tropical coastal waters of eastern Australia to give birth and mate during winter and spring. The huge area of Hervey Bay is famous for being a playground for the whales during this period so we were very hopeful of seeing some of these fabulous huge creatures. It started off slowly but, eventually, we were rewarded by lots of surface time where we met a mum and a very energetic baby playing in the warm water. There were also a couple of male ‘escorts’ who were happy to wave (pectoral slaps) for the camera too. So enjoy the photos. What a wonderful experience – we love whales!

Back on terra firma we headed back to our apartment for a spot of lunch (chip butties with the assistance of the local chip shop Madigans) which was very naughty but nice! We then headed to the pool for a couple of hours chilling before we got ourselves cleaned up and headed out in the car back to the Cafe Baleana. We weren’t happy with our original table (which was surrounded by others) but they were happy to move us to the waterfront, so that was good. We were then seated quickly and given the menus. Some strange concoctions but, hey, we were just pleased to have managed to get a table for dinner LOL. We ordered our food and drinks and got initial good attentive service.

But after that they just ignored us so we had to grab someone to get Richard a refill; I had to pour my own wine; and the dirty dinner plates were on the table for at least 25 minutes before anyone noticed to get them cleared. The food, however, was great so despite this we thoroughly enjoyed our 24th wedding anniversary celebration.

Thursday morning and it was our last full day in Hervey Bay. We headed to the beach again and it was very pleasant with cloud cover although it really wasn’t that comfortable. There were no beds available to rent here and the soft sand has been eroded into steep dunes so you end up laying on the hard compacted sand once the tide has gone out.

So after a few hours we returned again to the pool and stayed there until the middle of the afternoon having had enough rays. That evening we just had a lazy time in front of the TV and utilised the dishwasher and laundry machines to get ourselves ready for our departure in the morning.

Friday morning we packed up and headed back towards Coomera. Richard was driving this time and we decided to divert to Maryborough en route which was has roots dating back to the gold rush days of the 1800s. Lots of interesting older buildings here….

But check out the pedestrian crossing signs. Yes that really is a red and green Mary Poppins as P L Travers was born here. There is even a museum and a statue of the fabulous fictional nanny. Was fun…

Walking back to the car we came across a giant Kookaburra and a giant Koala being driven around the city – supposedly bringing light and fun to everyone in difficult times. Certainly made us smile but the Kookaburra was pretty damn noisy LOL.

Leaving Maryborough behind we headed back to the main road to rejoin the motorway and came across the Kookaburra and Koala again – this time they were with Ned Kelly, another famous resident. You just couldn’t make it up!

We stopped off on the way back for a coffee and we changed over so I drove the last hour and a half back to the Boatworks. Back on board, we quickly unpacked and got the bags stowed again and then picked up our marina courtesy car so we could return the hire car. Job done we headed to the Westfield Mall for Richard to have a quick check in with the doctor (just to get a blood test form really) and, after a bit of shopping, we headed back to Morphie for a quiet night in.

Today, Saturday, we had planned to head out somewhere but the wind is strong and we’re both feeling tired. So Richard has taken himself off to do some more laundry (not sure where it all comes from!) and is now residing in the cruiser’s lounge to watch some videos while I’m blogging back on board. Think that will be about it for the day.

Hope this finds you all well and keeping safe. Bye for now