While Fraser Island is considered by many to be the crowning jewel of Queensland’s Fraser Coast it’s not the only place worth a visit, writes Corazon Miller.

Steeped in the area's rich history, the magical charm of P.L. Travers' Mary Poppins and surrounded by the natural beauty of the Queensland coast, the small city of Maryborough is well worth a day trip.

On the corner of a main street in one of the region's oldest towns can be found the building where the imaginative mind behind storybook character Mary Poppins was born.

It's on the second floor of this heritage-listed brick building where P.L. Travers, the author who created the much-loved magical nanny, was born.

While it's been many years since Pamela Lyndon Travers, born Helen Lyndon Goff in 1899, lived in this quiet urban setting - her imagination has left a long-lasting impression on Maryborough.

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The once- busy port town that has a population of about 26,000 has well-used its claim to fame - with tributes to the fictional character seen around the city.

Mary Poppins movie poster/ card, featuring Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews.
Mary Poppins movie poster/ card, featuring Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews.

Outside P.L. Travers' birthplace stands a mini-statue of her fictional creation, complete with the nanny's trademark umbrella; right next door is a cafe named after A Spoonful of Sugar, the song made for the Walt Disney film.

Around the city can be found other public displays of Mary Poppins-inspired art.

For those wanting to get right into the spirit of P.L. Travers' character, there's an annual festival that promises to draw you right into the story, with nanny races, chimney sweep challenges, sidewalk art, street theatre and circus shows.

It could be easy to overlook what else Maryborough has to offer beyond this fictional character's legacy but, as I soon discovered, the city is more than just a shrine for all things Supercalifragilistic.

Nestled on the banks of the steady flowing Mary River, the city prides itself on the generosity of its locals and its colourful colonial history as preserved in its museums, memorials, old architecture and streetscapes.

I was fortunate enough, on the otherwise quiet Monday, to be shown around by one of these friendly locals - Kelvin, a tour guide from Maryborough Tours.

Mary River, Maryborough, Fraser Coast, Queensland. Photo / Tourism & Events Queensland
Mary River, Maryborough, Fraser Coast, Queensland. Photo / Tourism & Events Queensland

He drove me through the suburban parts of the city, showing me the original town site, the graves of some of the first settlers, the native wildlife resting on the banks of the river and the rather charming Queenslander timber homes that are unique to this part of the world.

We ended the tour at the historic wharf district in Portside, from where I was able to gaze out over the Mary River's brown-coloured waters, take a closer look at the beautiful historic buildings and public displays of art, as well as pay a quick visit to the nearby military museum, the local art gallery and the Mary Delicious sweet shop and cafe.

While on Monday there were few visitors, every Thursday the area by the river is transformed into a hive of activity, with a running steam train, a chance to meet the local town crier and to watch the firing of the historic time cannon at 1pm.

There's also the opportunity to peruse art, craft and fresh produce being sold at the nearby Maryborough Heritage City Market.

Mary Poppins statue outside the home where PL Travers, author of Mary Poppins, was born, Maryborough. Photo / Sunrise Odyssey
Mary Poppins statue outside the home where PL Travers, author of Mary Poppins, was born, Maryborough. Photo / Sunrise Odyssey

CHECKLIST

Getting there

Qantas

flies from Auckland to Hervey Bay, via Brisbane, with one-way Economy Class fares starting from $362.

Online
queensland.com