12 Things To Do in Maryborough

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Some places are more well-known in faraway lands than they are at home. Maryborough in Queensland had a fleeting touch with fame when it featured briefly in the movie Saving Mr Banks (Maryborough was where the author of Mary Poppins grew up) but most Australians, are unaware of Maryborough’s charms. Drop in for a visit and you’ll soon find out there are plenty of cool things to do in Maryborough. 

Maryborough is only a 30-minute drive from Hervey Bay (which is undisputedly the top place to visit in Queensland for humpback whales). Spending a day or two in Maryborough before or after whale-watching in Hervey Bay is a great idea and if you’re planning a longer visit, here are some fun things to do in Hervey Bay too. 

12 Things to do in Maryborough

1- Walk with the Anzacs

maryborough anzac memorial
Visiting Maryborough’s new Anzac Memorial is one of the top things to do in Maryborough.

Maryborough’s newest attraction, Walk with the Anzacs, is a memorial that pays tribute to World War I. 

From Gallipoli to Armistice, the outdoor war memorial is informative, creative and conjures emotions. 

Designed with soaring weathered steel columns that creatively symbolise the cliffs of Anzac Cove, statues and all-weather audio presentations, exploring the Walk with the Anzacs is an eye-opening journey.

The centrepiece of the memorial is a statue of Duncan Chapman, a soldier from Maryborough who has the distinction of being the first Allied soldier to step ashore at Gallipoli.

2- Explore customs house

things to do in maryborough queensland
Spending time looking at the displays in the Customs House Museum is one of the things to do in Maryborough for insights into Queensland history.

Customs House and Residence is a museum that keeps records of the stories of immigrants who came to Maryborough. 

Between 1859 and 1901, more than 22,000 immigrants landed in Maryborough.

Most were from Great Britain and Europe, but some ships also brought labourers and slaves from the South Pacific.

The Wharf Street precinct is particularly atmospheric at night, especially when you’re listening to stories about the waterfront.

Wharf Street has beautifully restored heritage buildings which house museums.

Customs House has an informative audio-visual display of Maryborough’s history. 

3- Explore the Bond Store Museum

maryborough attractions
The Bond Store Museum is a Maryborough attraction not to be missed.

The Bond Store Museum has displays of goods that once passed through Maryborough’s port.

The former store for her Majesty’s Customs Service is a fascinating step back into history.

The well-preserved 1864 building has displays that reveal secrets of the opium and rum trade. 

It provided secure storage for goods that attracted a tax including cigars, tobacco, rum, wine, spirits and opium.

For a unique experience, book Tipples and Tales to allow the actors to entertain you with fascinating stories of Maryborough’s Bond Store’s history.

4- Ride the Mary Ann

things to do in maryborough
Taking a train ride is a fun thing to do in Maryborough for all ages.

Kids will love the replica of Maryborough’s first locomotive train, the Mary Ann, which once hauled timber from Tin Can Bay to Cooloola Creek.

The original locomotive operated on a 3′ 3″ gauge railway line on spotted gum rails that had cypress pine sleepers. 

The eight horsepower engine was capable of pulling 40 tons of logs running at 8 miles per hour and was used to power a circular saw used to cut sleepers and rails.

The train is run by volunteers of the Maryborough City Whistle Stop Museum.

The steam train runs on Thursdays (between 9 am and 12.30 pm) and the last Sunday of each month (same time). 

5- Visit the Brennan and Geraghty Museum

things to do maryborough
Visiting the Brennan and Geraghty Museum is a fascinating thing to do in Maryborough if you love history.

Another thing to do in Maryborough is to visit the Brennan & Geraghty Store Museum, which is a unique museum store that opened in 1871 and operated as a local store until 1972.

The Brennan and Geraghty Museum is a quirky museum that captured the imagination of German television viewers when German film-maker Joachim Fuchsberger featured the museum in his documentary about travelling in Australia.

Since then, the museum has been a magnet for European tourists who often make a detour while on a Queensland road trip to visit the museum.

The museum is a well-preserved corner store that was owned by Irish immigrants and set up in 1871.

Patrick Brennan and Martin Geraghty migrated to Maryborough 1863, aboard the second immigrant ship to land in Maryborough.

things to do in maryborough
Take a walk back into history as you browse through the old wares in the museum. It’s one of the most satisfying things to do in Maryborough for a walk down memory lane.

Brennan and Geraghty’s operated as a local store until George Geraghty (Martin’s youngest son) passed away in 1972. 

Fortunately, in 1975, the National Trust decided to turn the historic store into a museum.

And now it is one of three museum stores in the world where the original contents have been preserved in its historic condition.

It’s like walking into the past.

There’s a grocery collection with 100,000 historical relics from a bygone era.

On the shelves are rusty tins of World War II Lucky Hit tobacco, jars of peanut paste and Hoadleys boiled sweets.

Remember Keen’s mustard imported from England? And brands like Brasso, Super Rinso and Chief floor polish?

There was a time in Australia when refrigerators were a luxury item.

In those days, meat was salted, pickled or cured.

And curry powder was used to disguise the taste of spoiling meat.

maryborough things to do
You’ll be surprised at what you find on the shelves at the Brennan & Geraghty Museum.

This still happens in other places around the world, but it’s incredible to think that it wasn’t so long ago in Australia either.

In the stores are bottles of Bengal curry powder from India, some as old as the 1890’s. Perhaps the curry powder is the only thing that might still be usable today.

Back in those days, tea was usually pre-packed in one- and half-pound packets.

Loose tea, such as Golden Tips Tea, was weighed and packed in the store.

The most expensive item in the store is a packet of Hang Mee tea from China (stamped March 20, 1885).

It’s probably worth a fortune to tea collectors!

Maryborough’s upper crust enjoyed imported figs from Turkey, nicely packed in small hand-made wooden boxes (just like expensive cigars), jams, preserves and orange wine.

Besides food items, the general store was also the local pharmacy of sorts.

The magic pill was Dr Morse’s Indian Root Pills used to cure the following: biliousness (?), dyspepsia, constipation, headaches (thank god for panadol!), scofula (who knows what this is?), kidney disease, liver complaints, jaundice, piles (ouch), dysentery, colds, boils, malarial fever, flatulence, foul breath, eczema, gravel, worms, female complaints, rheumatism, neuralgia and nervousness.

The store retains its historic ambience.

The office area has a desk, an ancient typewriter, kerosene lamp and old ledgers.

Wander around the back areas of the store and check out the treasure trove of old bottles, boxes and chests.

Make sure to sign the visitor’s book as your name will go alongside visitors from far away lands. 

6- Get creative at the Mary Poppins Festival

Celebrate storytelling in the birthplace of PL Travers, who wrote Mary Poppins. 

The Mary Poppins Festival is nine days of workshops, shows, art exhibitions, installations, storytelling and music in winter. 

The next festival is from 28 June to 6 July 2019. 

If you can’t get there during the festival, get a selfie with the Mary Poppins statue at the corner of Kent and Richmond streets (outside the 1882 ex Australian Joint Stock Bank), where P.L. Travers was born.

Also, check out the Mary Poppins characters etched on the footpaths around Town Hall. 

7- Take a walk through history on the Mural Trail

things to do in maryborough qld
One of the attractions in Maryborough is its excellent mural trail

Maryborough’s Mural Trail has 30 murals and public wall art that tell stories about the city’s history. 

Going on the self-guided mural trail is one of the best ways to delve into Maryborough’s past. 

Highlights include the Battle of Long Tan, a mural that commemorates the battle between 108 Australian soldiers of Delta Company at Long Tan (18 August 1966) against the North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong. 

List of murals to see in Maryborough are:

  • Peace Cake Sculpture (Maryborough Visitor Information Centre) is a replica of the Peace Cake created for the Victory Ball in 1919 celebrating the end of World War I. 
  • Community Canvas (City Hall at 388 Kent Street) is an expression of forgiveness and friendship. 
  • Brave Lexie and Foxie (Corner of Alice and Lennox Streets) is a stunning mural at the Maryborough Fire Station in recognition of a fox terrier dog and a young boy who rescued his siblings from a fire in 1927. 
  • The Aviator (202 Adelaide Street) is a mural featuring a prominent Maryborough RAAF officer. 
  • Adding hope to the journey (185 Adelaide Street) is a tribute to the Rotary Club in Maryborough, which has been operating since 1930. 
  • The Whip Cracker (144 Bazaar Street) is a spectacular portrait of Barbara Dalton of the Dalton Family Whip Cracking Show at Maryborough Markets. 
  • Prime Minister Fisher (144 Bazaar Street) is a painting of Wide Bay politician Andrew Fisher, Australia’s Prime Minister and Treasurer from 1908 to 1915, who was responsible for sending troops to fight during the First World War. 
  • The legends of Moonie Jarl (127 Bazaar Street) is a creative rendition of the K’gari creation tales of Fraser Island and the first book by indigenous Australians. Jacaranda Press published the book by Maryborough authors Wilf Reeves and Olga Miller in 1964.
  • Man in the moon (127 Bazaar St)
  • Galactic Horse (127 Bazaar St) – featuring the horse in PL Travers’ book Mary Poppins Comes Back. 
  • The Brumbies (182 Bazaar Street) is a fantasy painting of a wild horse that pays tribute to the wild horses that roam free on the Fraser Coast. 
  • Comet Man (175 Bazaar Street) – Maryborough astronomer Mervyn Jones was one of the people who discovered the Mitchell-Jones-Gerber Comet in 1967. 
  • The girl and the croc (Corner of Bazaar and Horsburgh Lane) is a cartoon sketch of a girl standing on the snout of a crocodile painted after a crocodile was shot in the Mary River. 
  • Mary River Turtle (Horsburgh Lane) is an artistic memorial to the endangered Mary River Turtle, which is one of the largest turtles in Australia.
  • Red Baron (Horsburgh Lane) is an artistic depiction of the Urothemis Aliena dragonfly lives in lagoons, ponds and around the Mary River. 
  • The Ferry (115 Richmond Street) is a lovely mural and a reminder that ferries played an essential role in the region. The earliest ferry was hand-operated.  
  • The Dong Sisters (Corner of Ellena and Richmond Streets) – Chinese immigrants arrived in Maryborough in the 1870s during the gold rush. This mural depicts Ellen and Maud Dong, who ran the family’s vegetable business between 1915 and 1956. 
  • Milking time (Corner of March and Kent Streets) – The Butter Factory, constructed in 1910, produced cream, milk, butter and cheese for 80 years. 
  • Courageous Care (354 Kent Street) – Maryborough was where Australia’s only outbreak of pneumonic plague occurred. 
  • The Brewer (278 Kent Street) – A mural about Polish migrant Louis Emmanuel Steindl, who arrived in Australia in 1871 and made a success of his life through the Bavarian Brewery in Granville. 
  • The Goat Race (360 Kent Street) is an entertaining cartoon sketch that illustrates a significant goat race in 1900. 
  • The Domestic Front (425 Kent Street) is a thoughtful sculpture commemorating the Anzac Centenary in 2016, in recognition of the sacrifice made by women during those times. 
  • Out of work (Strong’s Arcade, Adelaide Street) is a colourful mural of 68-year-old miner Robert Brown heading south looking for work during the Great Depression in 1935. 
  • St Mary of the Cross (271 Adelaide Street) – The Sisters of St Joseph was a religious order founded by Australia’s first saint, Mary MacKillop. They established a school in Maryborough in 1870. 
  • Our world (133 Wharf Street) –  The Mary River was named in 1847 by Governor Sir Charles Fitzroy in honour of his wife, Lady Mary Lennox, who died in a carriage accident.
  • The ladies of the exchange (133 Wharf Street) – In 1882, Maryborough had the first country telephone exchange in Australia.
  • Wharf Street, 1888 (164 Richmond Street) – In 1888, Maryborough was a booming immigration port. Pictured in this mural is the three-masted Eastminster, which sailed several times between Maryborough and England. 
  • Mary Poppins (147 Richmond Street) is a colourful mural into the fantasy world of Mary Poppins, written by P.L. Travers who grew up in Maryborough. 
  • Tubby Clayton (Maryborough Military & Colonial Museum) – Maryborough-born Reverend Philip Thomas Byard “Tubby” Clayton co-founded Talbot House as a safe place for British troops to rest in World War I. 
  • The battle of Long Tan (Maryborough Military & Colonial Museum) is an important mural that tells the story of the valiantly fought battle of Long Tan. Outnumbered by 20 to one on 18 August 1966, 108 soldiers of Delta Company 6RAR were saved by helicopter crews who dropped artillery and ammunition to the troops.

8- Watch the firing of the canon

mary poppins maryborough
If you can get there on Thursdays, watching the firing of the canon is one of the things to do in Maryborough for the historic atmosphere.

The cannon is a replica of the original one that was fired daily before the invention of the clock.

Join a guided Heritage Walk Tour (meet at 9 am outside City Hall) and don’t miss the firing of the historic Time Cannon at 1 pm.

You’ll get to meet the Town Crier and Mary Heritage. For more information, go here

9- Shop at the Maryborough Heritage Market

maryborough markets
Shop at the Maryborough market for locals wares.

Thursday is Maryborough Heritage Market day, where you can wander around market stalls sampling international food and shopping for crafts.

The market operates between 8 am and 1.30 pm in Adelaide and Ellena Streets right next to Maryborough’s Town Hall.

10- Visit the Maryborough Military & Colonial Museum

thing to do in maryborough
There’s no doubt that if you’re interested in war history, the top thing to do in Maryborough is to spend time in its excellent military museum.

Packed to the rafters with historic military paraphernalia, the Maryborough Military & Colonial Museum is one of the most significant military museums outside of Canberra. 

The museum’s impressive collection includes over 7000 items: each is unique and tell a story about war. 

There’s a 1911 Girling car built in London, a Victory Cross awarded to Lieutenant Herbert James of the 4th Battalion in Gallipoli, the largest display of original Boer War medals in the country and one of the largest military libraries in Australia.

11- Visit the Cenotaph and Memorial Gatesghost tour

When you’re visiting a historical place, there’s no better way to capture the ambience than visiting the Cenotaph, which was erected in 1922.

The memorial to those who lost their lives in the First World War has five Italian Carrara marble statues.

As Maryborough was one of Australia’s first ports, wandering past gravestones is all the more atmospheric.

It was Queensland’s main immigration port (for European migrants) during the late 1800s.

12- See the Maryborough Kanaka Memorial

things to do maryborough qld
The Maryborough Kanaka Memorial reveals secrets of the past.

Indentured labour was introduced to Queensland in 1863, and the first vessel (the Mary Smith) arrived in Maryborough in 1867 bringing 84 Kanakas. 

Between 1867 and 1903, 32 ships transported 12,073 indentured workers to work in the sugar industry in Queensland. 

Most were from New Caledonia, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands. 

Day trips from Maryborough

13- Whale watching in Hervey Bay

hervey bay to maryborough
It takes about 30 minutes to travel between Maryborough and Hervey Bay.

Hervey Bay is the whale watching capital of the world. 

If that sounds like marketing hyperbole, then go for yourself, and you’ll soon see why. 

Humpback whales stop to rest and play in Hervey Bay. 

During whale-watching season (July to September), there’s little chance you won’t see lots of whales and a pretty high chance they won’t leave your boat alone. 

14- Explore Fraser Island

maryborough day trip
Maryborough day trip to Fraser Island.

The Remote Fraser Island Experience is a day cruise from Hervey Bay to the island’s west coast, which has kilometres of pristine beaches, creeks with crystal-clear water and sand dunes. 

Looking for more things to do in Queensland? Check out:

 

12 Things To Do in Maryborough
12 Things To Do in Maryborough
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I'm a writer, photographer and video blogger based in Queensland, Australia, when I'm not on the road. I've lived in three continents and my career as a travel journalist has taken me to all seven continents. Since 2003, I have contributed travel stories to mainstream media in Australia and around the world such as the Sydney Morning Herald, CNN Traveller, The Australian and the South China Morning Post. I have won many travel writing awards and I'm a full member of the Australian Society of Travel Writers.

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