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Journal for 4-Jul-2003 : Hervey Bay

Our day off, possibly the last one for a while, where we sorted through our mail and did some adminy things which smelled a bit too much like work for my liking. At lunchtime we set off on foot to explore Hervey Bay.

Hervey Bay is large expanse of water that ends at Fraser Island just on the horizon. The placid waters looked inviting, but with a cool southerly breeze blowing (got down to a balmy +6 overnight, sending the locals scurrying for their seldom used heaters) we elected not to try a swim. The white sandy beach looks strewn with sea shells, but closer inspection reveals most of this is in fact coral. The Great Barrier Reef starts just north of here where Fraser Island ends. We spent the afternoon strolling lazily along the foreshore watching the jet skis dance around the occasional yacht that seemed to be moored a mile out to sea. As we walked back along the beach the tide went out revealing extensive mud flats. If we'd waited a hour or two more, I'm sure we could have walked over the Fraser.

I must say as a town Hervey Bay did not quite meet with my expectation of a sleepy Queensland fishing village circa 1956. Along "the Esplanade" (the road nearest the bay) there still sits the odd Queenslander style house, with breezy wooden construction on tall poles and dilapidated picket fences. These sit uncomfortably next to the 200 room hotels and three story strated timeshares.
A block or so behind this holiday strip, the housing estates begin. The old commercial district it is easy to identify by the presence of pedestrian crossing. Walking past the few single level buildings housing small town businesses like the community newspaper or the old wooden railway station (the rail line is long gone) it's easy to imagine this is all there is. Only a block or two of car-parks away is the new commercial district, which destroys this fantasy. The new Hervey Bay is a real car dominated culture. The multi-lane roundabouts and highways are arranged so that the easiest (and possibly only) way to cross the road is get into your car, drive around the nearest roundabout 180 degrees and pull up over the other side. Even in the mega-car parks the zebra-striped pedestrian access to the shops ends at the access roads. All those retirees moving up here are going to have a lot of trouble making use of their granny-mobiles in a few years time.

OK, so my expectations were too high. Hervey Bay did prove relaxing for me today, after I got used to the constant din from the endless passing trafic.

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