Wide Bay biking
Seeking a seaside getaway, Simon Vincett finds idyllic cycling on the Fraser Coast.
Known for whale watching and access to Fraser Island, Hervey Bay deserves more credit as a destination in its own right. With approximately 40 kilometres of beaches, the Wide Bay area certainly shares some of the “outstanding natural universal values” for which its famous island neighbour has been World Heritage listed. What’s more, the region is great to get around by bike.
The Hervey Bay Foreshore Shared Path is the primary promenade for the holiday maker, with the 868m long Urangan Pier at one end and Point Vernon at the other, jutting into the Coral Sea. Within the embrace of these two landmarks lie pretty much everything you could desire in a seaside destination—beaches, cafes, pubs and accommodation—and the Foreshore Shared Path allows leisurely riding between them.
Making the most of a retired railway, the council has also developed the off-road Links Corridor from Main Street to the Botanic Gardens. The 26 hectare Gardens feature plants and trees that are native to the Wide Bay and Sandy Straights region and offer an oasis of cool, peace and tranquility if the beach is getting too hectic.
It’s a pity the Links Corridor doesn’t link to the Foreshore path, though there’s a footpath link and riding on the footpath is legal in Queensland provided riders give way to pedestrians. There more off-road paths branching off and linking the Foreshore path and Links Corridor to reach destinations such as the Visitor Information Centre. The Links Corridor is just part of a grander dream for the Mary to the Bay Rail Trail, which can connect Hervey Bay the major inland town of Maryborough. bit.ly/1brKcbY
For exploring a bit further afield—seeking even more pristine beaches or just see the lay of the land—the busy folk of the Fraser Coast BUG suggest routes that provide great sight-seeing opportunities through quiet farming areas and pleasant, mostly-acreage suburbs with lovely views of the Bay.
Departing from the Visitor Information Centre on Lower Mountain road, you head into scenic farming country with some moderate hills to keep the riding interesting. Dundowran Road becomes Ansons Road to head straight down the beach (which has toilets) or you can take Hennessey Drive and Panorama Drive over the hill to cut the corner.
Petersen Park off Sawmill Road has remnant coastal rainforest and short walks but no facilities. There are picnic facilities including electric BBQs and toilets at the beach at the end of Sawmill Road. If you’re seeking BBQ supplies or refreshments, at the other end of Sawmill Road, across the main road, you’ll find the Craignish shops.
To keep exploring from Sawmill Road beach, head back past Sempfs Road and turn right into Homebush Road. Despite hinting at being a gated community entrance, this is the best way through to Petersens Road. At the end, take Seahorse Circuit and a footpath link.
From Petersens Road you can choose expansive views of the bay by turning up the steep Glenco Drive and Mal Campbell Drive through residential areas or you can choose flat, easier going behind the Fraser Links Golf Course bordering farming land.
Unfortunately there’s no avoiding the Pialba – Burrum Heads Road if you’d like to explore the O’Regan Creek Conservation Park and tranquil environs of Toogoom. There are beaches and picnic facilities at Shellcott St, Fixter Park and the Toogoom boat ramp. Refreshments are available at the Jeppesens Road shops in Toogoom and at the Toogoom boat ramp.
The Fraser Coast BUG also invite all comers to join in their weekend roadie rides. http://www.fcbug.org.au/events
Need to know
Getting yourself to Hervey Bay is not a problem but getting your bike there presents a few challenges. Of the plane, train and coach options, all require that you box your bike. There are, however, both conventional bikes and e-bikes available for hire in town.
Hervey Bay is a contender for the whale watching capital of the world, but you won’t see any if you’re visiting outside the season, which is from mid-July to November. The area is also renowned for the quality of its fishing and diving opportunities.
There are piers at Scarness and Torquay that can be fished if the tide is right and you can fish from the Urangan pier at any time of the day or night. Fishing charter boats are available from the boat harbour beyond Urangan Pier. There’s even a boat catering for family fishing trips, the M.V. Day Tripper. It can be booked through the Aquavue cafe on the Hervey Bay beachfront. If you bring your own boat, Fish n Tales can provide information about boat ramps and GPS marks of the best spots to try your luck.
In the 1960s marine biologists from the University of Queensland investigated the viability of creating an artificial reef in the Great Sandy Straight between Fraser Island and Hervey Bay. The aim was to create a major fish nursery and local business rallied to support the initiative. On dumped ships, barges, car bodies, tyres and other structures now grows a vibrant ecosystem of hard and soft corals, fish and other sea creatures, just a short boat trip out from the Hervey Bay harbour. Other popular sites average in depth between 9m and 30m and there are shallow reefs just off the Hervey Bay beachfront if you know where to look. The local expert is Syd Tanner at Hervey Bay Downunder. bit.ly/1dwaoFa
Being in the sunshine state, Hervey Bay’s weather is warm all year around peaking at an average maximum of 30 degrees Celcius from December through to February. This is the period of highest humidity (averaging 71%). From November to March the area experiences a lot of thunderstorms and faces the threat of the occasional tropical cyclone.
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