Season 1, Episode 16
Fraser Coast Tourism Events
Benjamin Starr chats with Tourism Development Manager, Mark Juppenlatz and Visitor Services Manager, Andrew Ellis from Fraser Coast Tourism about the beauty on our doorstep and all that the Fraser Coast has to offer!
From whale watching, outdoor experiences to the “must do” restaurants and places to dine, everything you need to know about the Fraser Coast and Hervey Bay is covered in this episode.
Read the transcript
Benjamin Starr: We are Driving Our Own Adventure and we are with Mark Juppenlatz today, the Tourism Development Manager and Andrew Ellis who is the Visitor Services Manager and they are the custodians I suppose you could say of the Harvey Bay Visitor Information Center here on the Fraser Coast. What an interesting place this is, the Fraser Coast. It’s a bit of paradise don’t you think?
Andrew: Paradise indeed.
Mark: Definitely, definitely.
Ben: Tourism information centers have changed a lot in their time. I mean, years ago you drive sort of past them, but now they are the go to place when you are coming to different areas. Tell us a little bit about your center.
Andrew: Okay we are an award winning center, we currently hold the gold medal for Visitor Information Centers throughout Queensland and the reason we won that this year is pretty much how we do our operations. We’ve changed completely from the old visitor information centre model where you come in, collect a few brochures, a bit of information and try to decide what you want to do in the area. What we pride ourselves on is matching each particular person that comes into our center with exactly what they want to do.
Ben: And is it that diverse now?
Andrew: It is. It’s really, really incredible. it’s just like when you decide to go on a holiday you go online and you have a look at all the different information, you’re picking things that you want. Well we are trying to pick things that not only that you want but that suits your particular needs.
Ben: And what are the types of things that people are looking for. I know you are famous for whales up here but there is other things to do?
Andrew: Most definitely. We have two of the most amazing places in the world here and that’s Fraser Island and Platypus Bay. Fraser Island of course. World Heritage listed. Largest sand island in the world. What an unbelievably eco-friendly and just environmental paradise.
Ben: What’s it like going to Fraser Island when you go there is it remote?
Andrew: It can be a little of anything it can be what you want to make of it. It can be a really remote experience, you could not see anyone for days depending on the areas that you go into. Or you can go on and stay in a five star resort.
Ben: Four wheel driving and things like that there or not really?
Andrew: Oh yes lots of four wheel driving.
Mark: Only four wheel driving.
Andrew: We also have the great walk which is specifically designed for hikers. You can do that over five days and pretty much do a lot of the island in that time.
Ben: Oh, it’s that big?
Andrew: Hundred and twenty four kilometers long.
Ben: You wouldn’t think it’s a big from from looking at it from above would you?
Mark: One hundred twenty four meters long, twenty three kilometers wide, two hundred ten meters high and it’s all sand.
Ben: Now tell me your the Business Development Manager, so what’s your role in all this. What do you have to do?
Mark: My role is to sell the region to the world and get you to come here and enjoy what we are doing, enjoying what we are playing with and enjoy what we’re seeing. It’s is a fantastic region, I mean Hervey Bay, the whole Fraser Coast because we are situated in what the experts say is the best climate all year round. In summer we average about thirty one degrees. Winter we average about twenty one degrees, it’s a perfect winter’s day here at the moment.
Ben: One thing that you notice when you’re driving up the coast and down the coast is there is a lot of space between places. Like Australia is a BIG place isn’t it? One thing that would ruin this place would be over development, and in terms of tourism is eco-tourism a very big part of the region down here?
Mark: Very much so, very much so. When you look at Fraser Island, I mean 800 odd thousand square hectares of Fraser Island only, one percent of Fraser Island has been developed.
Ben: That’s it?
Mark: That’s it. And there’s no more development on Fraser Island, it’s now World Heritage listed and what you see over there now, is basically it!
Ben: Now everyone loves whales, having a whale of the time! This is the best place to see them apparently.
Andrew: Not only the best place in Australia but one of the best places in the world. It’s quite a unique place, it’s also a resting area for humpback whales. So everywhere else in Australia you’re basically watching a whale on its migratory swim. So north or south depending on the time of the year. Well this is where they’re coming to it’s a resting place especially for mothers and calves. The mothers need to fatten up the babies before they swim south into the cold water again. So that’s what Hervey Bay is all about and why it makes it so unique. (whale sounds on boat and laughing and splashing)
Ben: So the best time to come here to see whales would be what time of the year?
Mark: It’s just about to kick off right now.
Andrew: I was out there yesterday watching two sub adults breach head lunge, swim up to the boat, stick their head up. It’s just the most amazing experience you could ever possibly have.
Ben: How amazing!
Mark: Between now and the end of October.
Ben: Yeah July to October.
Mark: But probably the best time is right now.
Ben: So when you go on a whale tour, I imagine all these operators are so aware of the environment that they’re out in and they would educate the tourists on what to do and what not to do. It must be amazing life changing experience for a lot of people.
Andrew: It certainly is and the experiences you see from visitors out there range from absolute joy and exhalation and to crying to singing to laughing it’s the range of emotions its unbelievable. When you get a fifty tonne animal lift its head up and look you eye to eye. That is just the most ultimate experience.
Ben: And do they make noises and things like that or is it is a very quiet.
Andrew: Lots of grunts and groans.
Andrew: And one of the most amazing things is that the males sing. It’s only humpback male that sings. It’s definitely its song. Goes for about fifteen minutes.
Andrew: A series of grunts groans. One of the incredible things is, that each year the song is different. But each year all the males sing the same song. So where they get together for their choir practice we’re not really sure.
Ben: Isn’t that fascinating!
Andrew: It is, and not only that whales don’t have vocal chords, so to make these noises they have to shift pockets of air around very different layers of fat in their body to produce those sounds, and then to replicate it in exactly the same order for that song for that fifteen minute period is just one of the wonders of science. It’s just incredible.
Ben: Ha ha ha ha ha . Now tell me, so people are driving up here and they are thinking look I want to come down to Hervey Bay. The best thing to do would be to come in and see you guys at the information center because it’s no longer just, you know as you said, pamphlets and you’ll tailor the journey to them. What other things to people like to see when they come here?
Mark: So, Fraser Coast, Fraser Island is our number one jewel in the area. But we have also got direct access straight out to Lady Elliot Island which is a forty minute flight from Hervey Bay to one of the best reef systems on the southern Great Barrier Reef.
Ben: And there’s a reef here as well?
Mark: Yep, forty minutes.
Mark: That’s a direct flight only.
Ben: Ha ha ha ha.
Mark: And also just off Round Island and Woody Island there is a little local reef system just in here that you can access with a couple of smaller boats … Hervey Bay Eco Marine.
Ben: So, diving is a big thing here?
Mark: Diving is a brand-new venture with the last year, about twelve months ago the Queensland government sunk HMAS Tubruk.
Ben: I remember seeing that.
Mark: So that went down, not quite the right way, but its landed on its side. It’s actually turned into quite a unique dive in its own right. So, we started diving on that in February this year.
Mark: So it’s now up and running.
Ben: It was supposed to what land flat down on the ground or something?
Mark: It was supposed to go straight down but it had a little bit on a hiccup.
Andrew: The experts say it’s actually turned out better because it’s really a diverse dive now.
Ben: Right okay. So can you actually swim inside it?
Ben: Isn’t that fascinating?
Mark: So for us it’s another new product for the region which is now a three hundred sixty five days a year product.
Mark: Fraser Island has always been the number one destination for this region. We’ve always been well known for whales for three months of the year. We’ve now got direct access to Lady Elliot three hundred and sixty-five days. We’ve now got the HMAS Tubruk for three hundred sixty-five days and also the other part of Fraser Island is very, very new to us is the west coast. Before west coast you could only really access the guys who were more experienced four wheel drivers that wanted to come over to the west coast of Fraser Island and risk their cars! Now we’ve got a couple of operators that are now running along the coast doing tours. All the way up through to Wathumba Creek. Now Wathumba Creek is our White Haven Beach of the Fraser coast.
Andrew: It’s a wow factor! You can wade through the lagoon at Wathumba Creek with rays, turtles all sorts of things swimming around you. Its incredible!
Ben: Really? Now how long does it take to get to these places? Like is it an hour’s drive or what?
Mark: As from Hervey Bay to Oh Wathumba Creek is around about an eight-hour drive; by the time you catch the barge over; by the time you drive across the Island; drive along seventy five mile beach; up to Orchid Beach, then cut across to the west coast of Fraser Island.
Ben: So, it’s a journey! Do you need a four-wheel drive for that one?
Mark: Yeah, it’s all four-wheel drive on Fraser Island.
Ben: Oh okay, alright, alright.
Andrew: One of our operators does a marine based tour up there on the west coast.
Andrew: And so it is to day tour, a full day tour, and one of the places they go is Wathumba Creek.
Ben: How amazing!
Andrew: It is just incredible. They take you ashore there obviously. You can snorkel in the lagoon, you can paddle kayaks up the lagoon. It is fantastic!
Ben: Now once we come to the center, what if people want to go and do winery tours and stuff, is there things like that?
Andrew: In a place like Fraser Coast there is a little bit of everything. The name Fraser Coast tends people to think of the coastal region itself, which is paradise. But we also have the Hinterland area which has got a lot of farms, a lot of wineries, all sorts of things right throughout the region , including the historic port of Maryborough; which was once the largest seaport on the Queensland coast. It’s where many of the old square rig sailing ships sailing out from the U. K. made their first landing up the Mary River, and the town nowadays is absolutely incredible how they’ve done some of the old buildings.
Andrew: And not only that it’s also the birthplace of Pamela Travis who is the author of the Mary Poppins series, so we’ve really got a lot of Mary Poppins. She was born in Maryborough.
Ben: Do you know that she’s got a big statue in Sydney in Ashfield Park. And my little niece loves going there to see Mary Poppins. You know what? She’s around everywhere, that woman.
Andrew: I’m sure they must’ve copied the statue.
Ben: It’s amazing what you can do with an umbrella in the wind isn’t it. Can you do sailing and stuff like that here?
Mark: Definitely, Definitely, definitely. Hervey Bay is probably some of the best waters, particularly for families. We have some the safest waterways along the whole east coast of Australia.
Andrew: The Great Sandy Straits rivals the Whitsundays for sailing.
Ben: So for people coming up, how long do you think they should spend here? So like if you go to Cairns people think we can do it in the day mmm not really.
Andrew: I came up for holiday thirty years go and I’m still here I haven’t left yet.
Mark: I came up twenty three years ago, I’m still here.
Ben: And how far away we from Brisbane, we are not far?
Mark: Three and a half hour drive up from Brisbane. Coming in from Maryborough which is thirty minutes south of us. So we are about three and a half hours drive. You’ve got direct access into the bay with planes and trains. But how long can you spend here? did you could easily make it a nice week’s holiday.
Mark: We could easily entertain you for a whole week. By the time you take in the beaches, Maryborough, Hinterland, Fraser Island, in the whale season another day out whale watching.
Ben: And how about restaurants?
Andrew: Oh we have a few of those!
Mark: We do, we do! There was a guy who came up here a couple of years ago, went to do an article for the Courier Mail about whale watching. And when he left he actually went back writing an article about one of our restaurants.
Ben: And what are they called?
Mark: The first one is Coast Restaurant.
Mark: The other one is the Vineyard.
Mark: But apart from that we have some, eah the Dock down at the marina. Cafe Balena. We’ve got the Tapas Restaurant in Torquay. We’ve got Enzos, we’ve got Aqua View on the waterfront.
Andrew: Absolute waterfront dining.
Ben: You can tell he’s been to all of them. He’s rattled them off one by one. What about the wineries? What do you do for the wineries here. What can people see and do?
Andrew: In the hinterland we’ve got a couple of different wineries, including one as well that doesn’t do the traditional wine that makes all their wines out of different exotic fruits.
Ben: Oh wow!
Andrew: So that’s pretty incredible and and pretty nice to taste as well. There is lots of them.
Ben: You’re not having fruit juice at the minute are you?
Andrew: No no.
Ben: So tell me what’s the best place for people to find out information. What’s the website and where do they go?
Andrew: visitfrasercoast.com is the official website. And when they are here please ,come into either the Maryborough Visitor Information Center or the Hervey Bay Visitor Information Center or on the highway just before you turn off to come into the Fraser Coast. We have another one at Tiaro, Tiaro Visitor Information Center. Or if you are coming direct by plane, once again just at the airport the Visitor Information Center there.
Ben: Fantastic! Well we’ve been chatting with Mark and Andrew from the Hervey Bay Visitor Information Centre. Gentleman thank you very much for your time today.
Mark: An absolute pleasure.
Ben: When you get up here make sure you pop into the tourism information centre and Mark and Andrew are the guys to ask for, they are going to help you out. Once again thanks for joining us today.
Intro Guy: Thanks for listening to Drive Your Own Adventure with Ingenia Holdiay Parks. With Holiday Parks and resorts across New South Wales and Queensland Ingenia Holidays offers the ideal place for an extended break, weekend getaway or short stop over. Find your dream destination with Ingenia Holidays at www.ingeniaholidays.com.au.
Join Benjamin Starr as he interviews the entrepreneurial scientist, Mark Watkins, who took over the family banana shed in the Atherton Tablelands to become the man behind world award winning gin!
Hear Mark talk about the alchemy that is needed to produce an award-winning gin on the Atherton Tablelands in Tropical North Queensland.
Benjamin Starr talks with Wendy Morris, the Chair of Tourism Tropical North Queensland about the booming tourism industry and the environment in Tropical North Queensland.
Benjamin Starr interviews the cool dancing grandma and grandpa caravan travellers! The Martin family have been visiting Ingenia Holidays Cairns Coconut for the last nine years. They share their experience of caravanning and holidaying with their grandchildren.