The Fraser Coast is an area within the Wide Bay-Burnett region of Queensland, and includes the twin cities of Hervey Bay and Maryborough, as well as Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island.
We were expecting a little coastal town with a pub, bakery and laundromat, but Hervey Bay is much bigger than that. The main road into town is lined with major retailers – JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman, Kmart – you name it, it’s there.
Our first stop was Dan Murphy’s and spent some time at the tasting station before settling on our purchases. We then made our way to our accommodation for the night, the front yard of a fellow Troopy lover from the Troopicarriers of Australia facebook page. We got to meet some friends of his who had just embarked on their own adventure around Australia, and we swapped stories as we feasted on swineapple, which is a hollowed out pineapple stuffed with pork, wrapped in bacon and baked. Delish!
In the morning, before heading over to Fraser Island, we had a quick drive around town, checked out the Esplanade and Urangan Jetty, and giggled at the papier-mache sharks outside Vic Hislop’s Shark Show.
Maryborough is the birthplace of PL Travers, the creator of Mary Poppins. Pamela Travers’s real name is Helen Lyndon Goff and she was born in 1899. In 1924, she moved to England where she took on the pen name PL Travers and began writing. She released the first of her Mary Poppins series in 1934 and 30 years later, it was made into a movie. PL Travers died in London in 1996 and her story has been retold in the recent film Saving Mr Banks.
There is a bronze statue of Mary Poppins that stands outside the building where she was born. This was the old bank where her father used to work, and is one of many beautiful buildings around town. Nearby is Queens Park, a great place to stroll through, climb a sausage tree or have a picnic.
Our arrival at Rainbow Beach was shortly after riding the Mantaray Barge from Fraser Island. Our first priority was to find a car wash to wash all the salt off the Troopy. We spent around $7 at the car wash and did a quick lap of town before moving on.
While Rainbow Beach and Gympie are not officially part of the Fraser Coast, all of these towns are within the Wide Bay-Burnett region so we will include both Rainbow Beach and Gympie in this Fraser Coast post.
For a Friday, Gympie was incredibly quiet. It was only midday and all the shops were shut, but we soon found out it was because of the Gympie Show and the Friday is considered a public holiday.
We had a quick lunch at Nelson Reserve before exploring the town centre to find Memorial Lane – an Anzac memorial with sculptured mosaic artwork – and then stocked up on food before making our way to Landcruiser Mountain Park.
On our way there, the unsealed road got a bit difficult. An uphill section was a little too steep to get up in 2WD and the Troopy stalled and began sliding backwards. Dave started it and tried to get it into reverse, but it wouldn’t go into gear. Faced with the options of a sheer drop down the cliff on one side or a ditch and wall on the other, sliding uncontrollably downhill in 3 tonnes of Troopy was pretty scary! Dave managed to steer the Troopy towards the ditch and after a precarious moment of sliding sideways down the hill, we stopped with a thud as the back of the Troopy slammed into a wall of dirt. The first thing on Juz’s mind was, “oh shit, it’s Pajinka all over again”, but after a quick inspection, the Troopy’s butt was relatively unscathed. We took a few minutes for our heart rate to slow down, then chucked the Troopy in 4WD and continued.