Hervey Bay can and should be a destination in its own right, writes Corazon Miller.

The setting sun and the gathering heavy clouds cast a shadow over the waters of the Coral Sea, which darkened to a dark green hue in stark contrast to the bright orange sand on the edge of the coastal city.

The horizon in the distance gave way to the long shape of Fraser Island, while the city skyline stretched out along the shore's edge behind me.

This view, visible from the end of one of Australia's oldest and longest piers on a quiet Sunday afternoon, quickly became my favourite all-round view of the bay.

Although Hervey Bay's 16km stretch of beach along the esplanade makes for no shortage of vantage points out to Fraser Island and its surrounding waters, Urangan Pier was certainly one of the more celebrated ones.


Built in 1917, the boardwalk was initially used to help export sugar, coal and timber until operations ceased in 1985 and the orders were given for its demolition.

But appreciation for this out-to-sea walk was so great when the state government looked to demolish it there was a public uproar.

Today, although it's a few metres shorter than the original 1124m, the pier has for the most part remained, with ongoing work to refurbish and restore it to its former glory.

Not only does the pier give a great view of the city and the ocean, but it is also a great spot from which to get in a bit of fishing and to catch a glimpse of the ocean wildlife and the people out at play in among the waves.

Unfortunately in my short time in Hervey Bay I failed to catch much of a glimpse of the dolphins, turtles, stingrays and other wildlife this city is widely celebrated for - barring a few birds in the air and a few humans on the water.

According to the skipper on my day-trip out to Fraser Island from Hervey Bay in February, dolphin sightings aren't rare, but unfortunately on that given day the rough south-easterly winds were stirring up the water, making it a bit tough to spot the dolphins.

Late July to early November offers nature lovers a spectacularly beautiful site as the bay becomes a natural playground for up to 10,000 humpback whales that stopover as part of their annual migration to Antarctica.

The bay's shape alongside the 123km of Fraser Island creates a protected area of water that's ideal for the whales to relax and show off their playful side.

It's this natural design that makes Hervey Bay an equally safe and fun playground for us humans, to go swimming, diving, sailing and a range of other water sports throughout most of the year.

Getting there
Qantas flies daily from Auckland to Hervey Bay, via Brisbane, with return Economy Class flights starting from $760.

Further information
Best time for whale-watching: July to November
Must-try restaurant: Coast Restaurant and Bar
Luxury night: Villa Cavour
Best view: From the end of Urangan Pier
Learn about the wildlife: At the Discovery Sphere.