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), so spending a day or two in Maryborough before or after whale watching in Hervey Bay is a great idea.
- Things to do in Maryborough
- 1- Walk with the Anzacs
- 2- Explore customs house
- 3- Explore the Bond Store Museum
- 4- Ride the Mary Ann
- 5- Visit the Brennan and Geraghty Museum
- 6- Get creative at the Mary Poppins Festival
- 7- Take a walk through history on the Mural Trail
- 8- Watch the firing of the canon
- 9- Shop at the Maryborough Heritage Market
- 10- Maryborough Military & Colonial Museum
- 11- Visit the Cenotaph and Memorial Gates
- 12- Visit the Maryborough Kanaka Memorial
- Day trips from Maryborough
Things to do in Maryborough
1- Walk with the Anzacs
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
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
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
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 12.30pm) and the last Sunday of each month (same time).
5- Visit the Brennan and Geraghty Museum
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.
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 historical condition.
It’s like walking into the past.
There’s a grocery collection with 100,000 historic relics from a bygone era.
The shelves are stacked with 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.
This still happens in other places around the world but it’s amazing 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 used to love imported figs from Turkey, which were 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
Maryborough’s Mural Trail has 30 murals and public wall art that tell stories about the city’s history.
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.
8- Watch the firing of the canon
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
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- Maryborough Military & Colonial Museum
Packed to the rafters with historic military paraphernalia, the Maryborough Military & Colonial Museum is recognised as the most significant military museum outside of Canberra.
The museum’s impressive collection includes a 1911 Girling car built in London, 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 Gates
When you’re visiting a historical place, there’s no better way to capture the ambiance than to 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 early ports, wandering past gravestones is all the more atmospheric.
It was Queensland’s main immigration port (for European migrants) during the late 1800s.
12- Visit the Maryborough Kanaka Memorial
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 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
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.