With two girlfriends in tow, Celeste Mitchell hit the road for a Hervey Bay weekend getaway.
I've just had possibly the best meal of my life. And I'm in Hervey Bay.
It's Saturday night and the local hotspot Coast Restaurant & Bar is most certainly the place to be. Positioned on the esplanade, Coast fuses views across the calm waters of the bay with a relaxed front deck, slick-design bar and intimate dining room.
When our starter of Pork Buns comes out I am surprised to see no resemblance to my favourite yum cha dish, but delighted to taste the delicious pancake-style morsels of hoisin pork and cucumber.
Next, Hervey Bay scallops with coriander and hazelnut butter, their shells arranged artfully over a plate of tiny black pebbles, provide what can only be described as a party in my mouth.
Designed to share between two to four people, the slow roasted lamb shoulder with relish literally fell off the bone and did all the wonderfully clichéd yet incredible things that a good meal can do for your taste buds. Accompanied by a chunky avocado salad from their daily specials menu and washed down with a pitcher of made-while-you-wait Sangria, we were three very happy ladies. Coast is sure to impress even the biggest city food snobs and with cooking classes kicking off this month, I will most definitely be returning.
When I told a friend I was heading to Hervey Bay for the weekend she scoffed it was full of newlyweds and nearly-deads, as if I was mad for spending my precious days off there. But as we stepped into our stylish and comfortable two-bedroom apartment at Oceans Resort & Spa and took in views of the water, the pier edging towards the horizon, and Fraser Island in the distance, I conclude she must be the mad one.
Positioned at Urangan, you could be forgiven for never leaving the boundaries of Oceans Resort, with a fantastic bistro, café and spa on site allowing you to charge back everything to your room. You could quite easily, as we did, sit at The Bayswater Bistro all afternoon drinking in the view and a vino or two.
An easy three-and-a-half hour drive north of Brisbane, Hervey Bay may run at a more relaxed pace, but it's got all the elements you need for a perfect seaside getaway – gorgeous sunny winter days, a walkway that meanders its way along the kilometers of coastline, just calling for you to take a walk with friends or hire a natty four-seater bike to cruise along in, and perhaps more surprisingly, incredible food.
It's not just the whales who know Hervey Bay is one of the best spots in the world, with many new residents, young and old, making the sea change.
Peter Lynch ditched the water skis and seal kisses of Sea World and moved up the coast in 1996 to start Blue Dolphin Tours. My friends and I joined him on his brand spankin' new catamaran for a morning of dolphin spotting and were delighted to see the first pod frolicking just outside the mouth of the marina.
Peter is only too happy to share his vast knowledge of the divine marine mammals and waters of the Fraser Coast, and the morning was a pleasant mix of dolphin encounters, interesting conversation and stunning surroundings. As we took the opportunity to soak up some rays sailing back from Moon Point, I couldn't help but feel like I'd been away for much longer than one day.
When not scouting for dolphins, Blue Dolphin Tours run intimate full-day whale watching tours in season as well as an incredibly reasonably priced champagne sunset sail – perfect for a night of romance, or to kick off a girls' night.
From July to November, the bay is most definitely the place to be to witness thousands of beautiful humpback whales as they make their 10,000km migration and put on a show not to be missed.
The warm shallow waters of the Bay provide the ultimate arena for the humpbacks to relax and play – where you're literally guaranteed to get up close with the majestic giants. You may be able to spot whales all along the east coast during their warm-up act, but it's here in Hervey Bay where they put on the most spectacular show.
Once back on land, in an attempt to walk off some of the indulgences of our girls' weekend, we did like the locals do and wandered down the wonderfully-vintage Urangan Pier, which stretches 868 metres.
Originally used to transport passengers, coal, sugar and timber, the pier was closed in 1985 and partly demolished, but due to public outcry the remainder was kept to be enjoyed. And being one of the best places to see a rare sunset over the water on the east coast, it attracts as many budding photographers as it does keen fishermen.
Feeling miles away from any city stresses and with a good dose of nature in our souls, there's only one question left to ask. Do we really have to leave?
Word Count: 847
Author: Celeste Mitchell
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