About Bundaberg beaches
The subtropical town of Bundaberg (‘Bundy’), on the Burnett River, is the gateway to Australia’s Southern Great Barrier Reef, close to pristine beaches and subtropical rainforests, and surrounded by sugar cane fields. The thriving sugar cane industry gave birth to Australia’s own Bundaberg Rum, shipped worldwide from the city’s port. Coral reefs ring the shoreline and migrating humpback whales and their calves frolic in the sheltered waters of Hervey Bay from mid-August to mid-October on their way to Antarctica.
The wide expanse of sandy beaches is stinger free and ranges from excellent surfing to safe swimming in calmer waters. Volcanic rocks are found between the beaches, and are great fishing and dive locations. The Hummock, an extinct volcanic cone, provides panoramic views of Bundaberg and the coastline. Reef walk, snorkel or dive the offshore coral reefs. Several beaches have protected areas good for small children. Catamarans, boogie boards and surf skis are available for hire.
Beyond the beach:
Discover the crystal-clear waters of the Great Barrier Reef either diving or snorkelling. Lady Elliot and Lady Musgrove islands can be visited by glass-bottom boat or semi-submersible vessel. The best shore diving is in Bundaberg’s Woongarra Marine Park. Every evening between November and March, hundreds of green, flatback and loggerhead turtles return to charming Mon Repos Beach to lay eggs and raise their young in one of the largest turtle rookeries in the South Pacific. Migrating humpback whales pass offshore from August to October, frolicking in the protected waters of Hervey Bay and Fraser Island. Home and museum of early Australian pioneer and aviator Bert Hinkler is now located in the botanical gardens (Mount Perry Road, Gin Gin Highway), including a replica of his glider built and flown off the sand dunes of Mon Repos Beach in 1912. Hinkler set numerous world flying records, and made the first successful solo flight from England to Australia in 15 days. Tour the Bundaberg Rum Distillery, birthplace of the famous Bundy Rum, made from the sugar cane by-product molasses, or visit the Tropical Winery for non-grape wines made from pineapple, passion fruit, guava and mango (78 Mount Perry Road). A more unusual place to visit is The Bundaberg Barrel (147 Bargara Road), where an interactive tour tells of the origins of Bundaberg Ginger Beer, along with free samples.
Many annual activities provide a special taste of Australian culture, from the Annual Bush Poet’s night every May at Ballantyne’s Lodge in Gin Gin, to the Drover’s Cattle Drive in Monto each June, and the Camel Cup Races at Mount Perry. The annual Burning of the Cane in Gin Gin is a special August rite of passage in sugar cane country, and a spectacular sight. Families enjoy steam train rides on the Australian Sugar cane Railway (Botanic Gardens, Highway 3, North Bundaberg) or a visit to the Mystery Craters (28km/17.5 miles from Bundy on Gin Gin Highway), a baffling geological phenomenon over 25 million years old and featured on Unsolved Mysteries of the World TV series. At Schmeider’s Cooperage (3-7 Alexandra Street, East Bundaberg) watch woodworkers and glassblowers in action.
The nearby coral cay islands of Lady Elliot and Lady Musgrove offer two totally different experiences for tourists, from the luxury ecoresort on Lady Elliot to wilderness camping on Lady Musgrove.
Wild and beautiful Fraser Island is the world’s largest sand island and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, mostly explored by hikers and 4-wheel drives. Ochre cliffs flank wide sandy beaches, tropical vegetation mingles with towering hardwoods, pristine rainforest, crystal-clear lakes and coloured desert sands.
Whale-watching cruises to Hervey Bay run from July to November, when the migrating humpback whales cavort and play in these protected waters en route to the Antarctic. Board a luxury catamaran for a half- or full-day cruise, on which you’ll sight whales and bottlenose dolphins in Hervey Bay’s warm waters, sheltered by Fraser Island.