Have you travelled half-way around the world at great expense to tick an amazing experience off our bucket list? Sometimes, that mind-blowing bucket list experience might be right on your doorstep. For those of us who live in Southeast Queensland, there’s world-class whale watching in Hervey Bay, the Humpback Capital of the World. And the Hervey Bay Ocean Festival provides the perfect excuse to go to Hervey Bay.
Anything to do with the ocean will be celebrated at the Hervey Bay Ocean Festival from 21 July to 19 August 2018.
A couple of years ago, the whale and seafood festivals merged to form one big celebration of all things to do with the ocean.
I attended the festival in 2017 and was impressed with the range of the whale-watching experiences, the vibrant atmosphere, fun events and positive vibe.
This year’s festival is shaping up to be even better.
What is the Hervey Bay Ocean Festival?
The Hervey Bay Ocean Festival pays homage to the importance of the ocean, promote the conservation of the marine environment.
The migratory journey of the humpback whales can be experienced from numerous spots along Australia’s coastline.
It’s an annual event in nature’s cycle that occurs right on the doorstep of Southeast Queensland.
You can see the humpback whales from numerous spots along the coast but there’s no other place in Australia that compares to the whale-watching encounters you’ll experience in Hervey Bay.
Close encounters with humpback whales
In Hervey Bay, up-close encounters with the humpback whales happen regularly and are truly astonishing.
From July to November, thousands of Humpback whales travel along the “Humpback Highway” on their way back to Antarctica.
The whales arrive in Hervey Bay, where they stop and spend up to 10 days.
The humpback whales rest, socialise and play before continuing back to the Antarctic for the summer.
Australia has a range of aquatic habitats that attracts all kinds of aquatic creatures.
At least 45 species of whales, including 30 types of whales, 14 types of dolphins and porpoises are found in Australian waters.
However, the migration of the humpback whales is a significant event in nature’s cycle. It’s one of the longest of any mammals on Earth.
Humpback whales migrate around 5000km from Antarctica north.
Hervey Bay Ocean Festival Events in 2018
So, head to the Hervey Bay Ocean Festival and have a whale of a time at these exciting events.
Saturday 21 July August 4 pm to 8 pm at Great Sandy Straits Marina (free entry)
Live music, market stalls and ocean-themed craft workshops for children are some of the fun things you’ll experience at the Blessing of the Fleet.
The highlights are watching the sail by of the vessels and being in the crowd to watch local ministers perform the blessing.
The Blessing of the Fleet is a 16th-century Mediterranean tradition adapted for sunny Hervey Bay.
While the Mediterranean version was done to ensure a safe and prosperous season to all vessels, the Hervey Bay event is a fun family night out to celebrate the excitement of the whale season. It ends with a bang and a fabulous fireworks display.
Hervey Bay’s Blessing of the Fleet is an event that raises the profile of humpback whales and acknowledges the importance of humpback whales to the region.
Sunday 12th August 10 am to 4 pm at Fishermen’s Park, Urangan Boat Harbour ($5 for adults; free for under 18)
Seafood lovers will enjoy wandering around the stalls at the Hervey Bay Seafood Festival tasting salt and pepper calamari, chilled banana prawns, Moreton Bay bugs and oysters. Or for a more formal experience, book a table at the Tastes of the Bay long lunch event.
The festival has a local flavour and is the place to get out and chat with local chefs who will inspire you with delicious recipes.
Saturday 18 August 2 pm to 830 pm at Seafront Oval (free entry)
Join the excitement of a fun beach party-themed parade along the Esplanade. The fun starts at 2 pm, with live entertainment, stalls and rides.
It’s one of the most exciting events of the year in Hervey Bay and a chance for local teams to show off their creativity.
Judging by last year’s crowd, the Esplanade will turn into a sea of people cheering on the floats and jostling for the best spot to watch the fireworks finale over the ocean.
Tip: For the best view of the parade, look for a spot between Frank Street and Seafront Oval.
Sunday 19 August 1 pm to 4pm Ernie Organ Park, Torquay (free entry)
If you have a stand-up paddle board, kayak or any floating vessel, the paddle out to the ocean is the event to join.
The aim is to encourage whale conservation and to recognise the importance of the ocean and whales to the world.
It’s an event that anyone who cares for marine life should not miss.
The highlight is the minute’s silence to honour the whales when everyone is out on the water.
It’s also a fun family day with environmental speakers, races and live entertainment. The kids will love the sand sculpting workshop.
Discover Hervey Bay
Hervey Bay is within driving distance of Brisbane and a 2.5-hour drive from the Sunshine Coast.