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Hervey Bay on song for another bumper whale season

THE whale watching capital of the world, Hervey Bay, is open for business and delivering another bumper season with close encounters and the visitor experience of a lifetime.

Fraser Coast is undoubtedly Australia’s Home of the Humpbacks where the natural shape and calm protected waters of Hervey Bay offer a natural playground for thousands of the majestic creatures and the best up-close and personal whale watching encounters in the world.

This year an estimated 22,000 humpback whales have migrated from Antarctica to the warm northern waters to breed.

The humpbacks are now on their return journey and will be making their annual migration stop-over in Hervey Bay until early November. The proud new parents and the cutest calves on earth are making a temporary home in the tranquil marine environment of the Great Sandy Straits, creating a wonderland of intimate and interactive whale activity.

Hervey Bay’s world renowned whale fleet is famous for providing visitors with soul-stirring, intimate encounters with the gentle giants.

Get on board with one of these leading operators for a whale experience to live long in the memory.

Blue Dolphin has exclusive full day whale encounters including limited passenger numbers for great viewing; eight hours touring on board the luxury eco-friendly vessel; morning, afternoon tea and quality buffet lunch with free drink. If the conditions are right, passengers can immerse themselves with the whales in the water on the boat’s purpose-built platform. Passengers benefit from a highly educated crew with more than 30 years’ experience in marine animal behaviour.

Hervey Bay Whale Watch Quick Cat II has a full day Whales and Fraser Island experience including light breakfast, morning tea and hop off at Kingfisher Bay Resort on Fraser Island for lunch. Quick Cat ll offers four levels of viewing decks and full wheelchair access around the entire vessel. Underwater cameras and hydrophones add to the interactive experience, but for that once in a lifetime experience, Hervey Bay Whale Watch also offer a swim with whales experience that is not to be missed.

Whalesong are whale and dolphin specialists at Hervey Bay providing an ideal way to explore the pristine waterways and diverse wildlife between Fraser Island and the Fraser Coast. Discounted rates for teenagers (up to 18) makes for an affordable day out on the water, while fresh local produce prepared onboard will delight the tastebuds. Whalesong can also assist you with exploring Fraser Island while you’re here.

Freedom III is a family owned and operated business which offers longer days on the water and small to medium passenger numbers to provide a relaxed experience. Rated number one on TripAdvisor, it is clearly a popular choice, and with the delightful menu on offer including homemade morning tea, buffet lunch fresh fruit and cheese platter, it’s no wonder people keep going back for more.

Spirit of Hervey Bay is the largest and fastest whale watch vessel in Hervey Bay, offering the biggest underwater viewing room in the fleet and a hydrophone to listen to the whales. The Spirit has a range of well-priced tours complete with courtesy transfers, souvenir whale DVD and more. Five levels of viewing decks means you can catch the whales’ antics from every angle.

Tasman Venture offers multi-lingual guides, advanced eco certification, free onboard Wi-Fi and an immersive platform allowing guests to get closer to the humpbacks than ever. Tasman Venture is also the only operator permitted to access the North West Coast of Fraser Island, taking visitors to pristine, isolated locations.


Whale fact:

Hervey Bay has also recently become one of the first places in the world nominated to go through the process of being recognised as a Whale Heritage Site. The program by the World Cetacean Alliance (WCA) recognises the importance of whales to a region and promotes sustainable tourism and the protection of the natural environment.

Book now:

For bookings and further information on the Fraser Coast and some great season deals visit: whalesherveybay.com.au.

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Belly flops ‘just not cricket’ in Australia Day fun

FRASER Coast’s lovable mascot Harvey the Whale has been warned against belly flops when he takes on Polly the Parrot, Blazer, Cluedo and other local mascots in an Australia Day race on January 26, 2016.

Hosted by the Rotary Club of Maryborough Sunrise, the Mascot Race is one of many exciting events being held in Maryborough’s Queens Park to celebrate this year’s Australia Day.

“Belly flops are not allowed,” Maryborough Sunrise Rotary president Glenda Pitman said.

“We know Humpback whales can swim in bursts of up to 26kph but the 50-metre race is over the grassy terrain of Queens Park not in the Pacific Ocean.

“Attempting belly flops and gliding over the grass is just not cricket so we’re using a handicap system so Harvey isn’t disadvantaged.”

Other mascots include Robert the Recycler from the Fraser Coast Regional Council, Bendigo Bank Pig and a curlew and dugong from the Burnett Mary Regional Group (BMRG).

Everyone is invited to join the day’s fun which starts with a free community breakfast  followed by traditional games, flag raising, Billy Tea and damper and Dummy Spit competition.

See the Australia Day gallery

Hartog’s pewter plate marks Australia’s first European landing

TOMORROW (January 23) marks 400 years to the day since Dutch explorer Dirk Hartog left the Netherlands on his epic journey during which he famously stumbled on the island, now known as Dirk Hartog Island, off the coast of Shark Bay in Western Australia on 25 October 1616.

Long before Captain James Cook landed on the east coast of Australia in 1770, Hartog had left a pewter plate as a mark of his discovery in Western Australia.

Hartog’s journey would see him play a major part in the world’s cartography as the first recorded European to leave evidence of contact with Australian soil.

As a by-product of spice and commodity trade in the Indonesian islands lying above Australia, a chief cartographer was put in place by Dutch East Indian Trading to have a secret atlas of maps which included Australia or “New Holland” as it was known for 150 years.

Although Australia wasn’t seen as a trading opportunity, the Dutch mapped two-thirds of the mysterious continent known as “Terra Australis Incognita”, later renamed Australia by the British.

Today the area is known as the Shark Bay World Heritage Area – a wonderland of world-class natural marine and land-based attractions married with a rich indigenous culture.

Land forms include the 100km Shell Beach, the extraordinary Stromatolites (found only in three places globally) and the Zuytdorp Cliffs stretching from Kalbarri to Shark Bay.

Marine encounters include the Monkey Mia dolphins, the second largest population of dugongs in the world, migrating humpback whale, rare loggerhead turtles and the occasional whale shark.

Dirk Hartog Island is Western Australia’s largest island and offers a peaceful retreat of beautiful scenery, ideal for four-wheel driving with its white sandy beaches perfect for snorkelling or fishing.

The Island has significant biodiversity conservation values with more than 250 native plant species, 81 species of birds and 27 species of reptiles, many of which were on the brink of extinction.

It is also a major nesting area for loggerhead turtles with about 400 breeding annually with hatchlings expected in March.

To celebrate the 400 year anniversary of the landing on the island, a four-day festival – the Dirk Hartog Voyage of Discovery: Shark Bay 1616, will held in Shark Bay from Friday October 21 to Tuesday October 25, 2016.

The 1606 replica Dutch ship, the Duyfken, will depart Western Australia’s Fremantle Harbour on August 28, 2016 and visit the Coral Coast towns of Jurien Bay, Dongara and Geraldton along the way to Denham, and will be available for public tours at each port of call.

Additionally, history and sailing enthusiasts can cruise to the festivities on board the tall-ship Leeuwin II departing Fremantle on Friday 14 October, arriving in Shark Bay Friday October 21, 2016.

For more information on the event series, travel planning or history of Dirk Hartog Island, visit Australia’s Coral Coast.

 

PHOTO: Dolphins surfing Urchin Point at Dirk Hartog Island, by Chris Woods photography. Courtesy of Australia’s Coral Coast.

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