I'm a freelance writer living in Brisbane. I love bushwalking, kayaking, wildlife, history and travel.
Published January 8th 2017
60th birthday celebration
My friend Ailsa's 60th birthday was coming up. Her two sisters had gone to volunteer in Sri Lanka for three months and six months, and her son was in Japan, so her friends wanted to do something to help her celebrate.
We were going to go out for lunch in Brisbane, but then our friend Garth invited us to Hervey Bay on the Fraser Coast for a few days. She was going up by train to stay with her friend Adrian.
Ailsa and I drove up from Brisbane. After a stop in Gympie for lunch, we went to pick Garth up from the train at the Maryborough West station. Luckily the train was late because we got lost on the way to the station. Hervey Bay is situated approximately 3½ hours' drive north of Brisbane, via the Bruce Highway and 30 minutes' drive northeast of Maryborough.
Hervey Bay has lots of tourists who come to see whales or go to Fraser Island. I had been there several times before, once to go on a whale watching trip with my brother who was visiting me from Tasmania, and a few times I passed through on the way to Fraser Island.
The whole area is very popular for camping, fishing and boating. The caravan parks were full when we visited in early January.
We arrived in Hervey Bay just in time to drop our luggage at Adrian's place and go to happy hour at Hoolihans Irish pub in Pialba. A group of Adrian's friends meet there every Tuesday afternoon. Hoolihans was established on the Esplanade in Hervey Bay on St. Patrick's Day 2001. It used to be a deep-sea dive shop and has been transformed into a Restaurant & Bar www.hoolies.com.au
After a few hours at Hoolies, Adrian rang "Dial a Driver" to drive us home. I'd never heard of this service. They come and drive your own car home when you have been drinking. In Hervey Bay, it's a very popular service. I don't know if it even exists in large cities but works really well in smaller towns. Friends in the city use Uber www.dialadriver.com.au
Early next morning we went for a walk on the beach just down the road on a very interesting beach at Point Vernon. Adrian pointed out interesting geology of the area of the headland, with its folded sedimentary rock strata and Uranganite. A dead sea turtle washed up on the beach a few days previously, but had been removed before our visit.
Point Vernon is a coastal suburb of Hervey Bay. It was named in 1861 after Captain Charles Vernon, Commander of HMS Cordelia, which had brought Governor Bowen to Queensland in 1859. Originally the area was settled by South-Sea Islanders who had been forced into slavery on the sugar cane plantations in the area. Polson Cemetery contains a Memorial to the Kanakas as a memorial to this darker side of Port Vernon's history. Point Vernon locals like that the area is undeveloped without shopping developments.
There is a coral reef off shore and we saw broken bits of coral on the beach. Snorkelling is popular, and there are extensive walking tracks along the shoreline, ending at Urangan.
Garth's Brisbane inner city dog Carlo loved his beach walks, even though he can't swim. Garth had tried to teach him to swim but he just paddles madly with his 2 front legs and sinks.
I thought he was strange but have since found out there are a lot of dog breeds that can't swim. This includes pugs, pekingese, boxers, Staffordshire bull terriers, American bull terriers, basset hounds and dachshunds. I have only ever had dogs that loved to swim naturally like border collies and labradors and didn't realise some dog breeds are unable to swim.
After our walk we had a look around Hervey Bay and visited some op shops, antique shops and secondhand furniture shops. We were trying to find someone who could tell Adrian about the value of his old bottle collection. He had worked as a surveyor for the State Government Department of Mines from 1975 till 1987, and had collected some bottles in old towns where he went to survey mining leases. He had maps and could see where hotels and hospitals used to be. On weekends he used to match up the maps with the topography. He found bottles in gullies behind old hotel sites. He wanted to find out if the bottles were worth anything and asked at the antique and secondhand shops, but they couldn't help him.
Jax furniture barn had lots of interesting things for sale but Carlo caused the owner's dog to mark his territory by urinating on some outdoor furniture.
We went to Toogoom for lunch and a swim. Toogoom is a beautiful peaceful quiet seaside town 15 minutes (20 kilometres) drive from Hervey Bay. We walked on a boardwalk through mangroves and swam in the ocean on a lovely uncrowded beach.
Toogoom means "Place of Rest". Aborigines used to come across from Fraser Island to Toogoom to camp and rest. We wondered why because Fraser Island is such a restful place, www.facebook.com/goodys.onthebeach
Birthday lunch at Goody's on the beach
That night we went back to Hoolihans for dinner and karaoke. I shared a delicious seafood platter and seafood pizza. The hotel was packed on a Wednesday weeknight and there were long queues for ordering food.
Hoolies Irish Pub
We played 500 after we got home. I worked out I last played that card game forty-six years ago. It was fun and the rules slowly came back to me although Misere was tricky when we had to make Garth win a hand. She lost them all and won the hand.
When I got home to Brisbane I posted online on The Australian Antique bottle forum and found a contact for Adrian in Hervey Bay who could advise him on the value of his bottle collection and the best place to sell them. The man called around to his house and is going to help value the bottles.