The Hungry Wanderers

Eating and exploring our way through the world

A Day in Hervey Bay – and a Rant on Australian Coffee

Posted by gingerbreadpirate on March 14, 2010

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When we were initially booked in Hervey Bay, we really weren’t certain what we were going to do with our time there.  The itinerary the travel company sent us says, “Hervey Bay’s attraction lies in the range of activities it offers – whale spotting, fishing, walking, water skiing, scuba diving, fishing, exploring nearby Fraser Island. [sic]”  As fishing is listed twice, neither of us being fishermen, and walking making the list, which seems like an activity available at any vacation destination, we were indeed a little concerned.

Our concerns were only bolstered when we arrived to find 2 complete blocks of resort, surrounded by quiet residential homes.

Fortunately, one of the quarterly brochures contained a map that showed us that we were only at the tip of the Hervey Bay destination area, and we had several kilometers of shoreline to explore.  After sleeping in, enjoying the sunrise, and having a nice cup of instant coffee, we decided to head out for the day.

A note on Australian coffee:  I love light roast, filtered, black coffee.  I have a couple cups every day, not because I “need” it to get up in the morning (although it’s debatable about whether or not I’m physiologically addicted), but just because I like the warm, bitter fluid in the morning.  My brother warned me the first morning I was here, however, that filtered coffee was something that was generally unavailable in Australia.  Not that it “doesn’t” exist, but just that Australians universally prefer a “long black” to a cup of fresh filtered coffee.  A long black, BTW, is full cup of pressed coffee from an espresso machine.  A “short black” is a traditional shot of espresso.

So we headed off for the day.  We were both jonesing for some Vegemite on toast, so we popped by the small cafe downstairs for some coffee (long black) and toast with Vegemite.  Once my coffee came out, I wondered where Australia gets its coffee from.  The mountainous rain forest we had driven through yesterday, it seemed to me, would produce marvelous coffee, but a.) I have never heard of Australian coffee, and b.) I didn’t see any coffee as we drove.

I decided to ask the barista/proprietor about where the coffee came from.  She said it came from Brisbane, which led us into a discussion about coffee, including where Australia produces coffee and why they don’t drink filtered (percolated) coffee.  She said that she did have a percolator at the shop, but no one ever asks for it, so she never makes any.  She did suggest that if we came back tomorrow, she might make a pot for us.  I’m thinking I might take her up on that.

In the mean time, I have to say that the instant coffee available in Australia seems far more passable than anything I’ve ever had in the U.S.  I suppose it could be that when one is in dire straits, it changes the fundamental framing of the question, i.e., when no other coffee is available, perhaps instant doesn’t have to be that good to be completely passable.

Anyway, from the cafe, we headed to the beach area.  We were pleasantly surprised with all the shops that lined the street (note street; not streets).

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We found a little place to pull over and take a couple pictures of the Bay.

IMG_4530 That’s Hervey Bay in the background.

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IMG_4538Then we parked and walked up a trail that ran parallel to the road and beach.  We were able to get some nice photos, I thought.

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IMG_4590 Part of the path was a fitness trail.  The Wife enjoyed her time on the fitness equipment, as you can see.

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IMG_4574We were also able to get a couple shots of the beach.  The water really didn’t look all that appetizing, but then again, swimming was NOT on the list of activities.  That could also be because the famous box jellyfish lives off the east coast of Australia, but I thought it was only found further north than Hervey Bay.  If you’re not familiar with the box jellyfish, here’s a short excerpt from Bill Bryson’s book, In a Sunburned Country, about a young man that, ignoring all posted signs to stay out of the water, went swimming and was stung by a box jelly.

It is said there is no pain to compare with it.  The young man staggered form the water, covered in livid whiplike stripes whereever the jellyfish’s tentacles had brushed across him, and collapsed in quivering shock.  Soon after ward emergency crews arrived, inflated him with morphine, and took him away for treatment.  And here’s the thing.  Even unconscious and sedated, he was still screaming.

You can see why WE’RE not swimming, but I haven’t seen any posted signs.  By the way, Bryson’s book is a fabulous read, and a must read, if you’re considering taking a trip to Australia.  His book details his own misadventures through Australia, and his writing is fantastically funny and enjoyable.  Anyway, here are some pictures of the empty beach.

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IMG_4636After a reasonable walk (about 2.5k), we were hungry and decided to get something to eat.  We stopped at a place that had fresh sushi, and an enticing salad menu, but they were closed.  It’s been interesting that the majority of restaurants are open for lunch, and then dinner, but not in between.  I thought this restaurant was particularly odd because we were there at 1:45 pm, which I would think would still fall into the lunching hour; evidently not.

IMG_4586 So we popped next door to the Irish pub for a bite.  To be honest, neither of us were too excited about another pub, but we were both very hungry, and getting baked by the extra-hot, tropical, Australian sun.  Also, I was getting dehydrated, between the coffee and walking in the sun.

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IMG_4634 They had a nice lunch menu, too, so that brought us in.  Once inside, though, we were very pleased with some of the menu offerings.

IMG_4601 Bundaberg is about 90 minutes from Hervey Bay, an is proclaimed “Australia’s Most Famous City”, but the Australians.  It produces ginger beer by one manufacturer, and Bundaberg rum by another.  I’m not sure I would call it the most famous city in Australia, but I did want to give both the rum and ginger beer (and they make a sarsaparilla) a try.

IMG_4612This bread loaf was a “cob loaf.”  Basically, it was garlic bread, but it was seasoned with something citrusy, and it was excellent.

IMG_4619They had chicken livers on the menu, also, which the Wife and I just couldn’t pass up.  They were served in a very light gravy, and flavored with mandarin oranges.  Once again, more fabulous flavor, but none of the pub grub feel.  Sorry for the picture.  The pub was pretty dark, and we were really having a hard time getting the pictures to come out.

IMG_4621Then we did go for the Guinness Pie with steamed veggies.   It has been remarkably hard to come across steamed veggies, actually.  Even the “sautéed”  veggies I had the other night were uber-soaked in butter, really taking away from what started as completely fresh vegetables.  These, however, were simply steamed, and still a touch crisp.  They were wonderful.  The pie was good, too, but I was a little distracted on the pie

IMG_4622While lunch was going on, a young man got up to perform.  He was actually quite good, but he never gave the crowd his name.  He just sang covers of recent pop music, but he was talented.  Part of me wondered if he had paid the appropriate royalties to perform the music.  IMG_4629 After he played for a bit, a gentleman with short dreadlocks and a “half poncho” got up to speak.  Evidently, a friend of his had died of leukemia in 2006, and we were sitting right in the middle of a cancer-awareness campaign.  He spoke for a moment about his friend, and then had his hair cut, right there in front of everyone.

IMG_4625 Here he is getting his hair cut by the widow of his friend.  His friend’s apparent-children are watching (pictured in the foreground of the picture).  The name of the event was “World’s Greatest Shave.”  It was fascinating.

IMG_4631 Then he took a seat to get his head shaved.  The woman beside him is about to have her head shaved, too.

IMG_4626 Here is another woman that had her head shaved.  Before and after shots for you.

IMG_4628 Wow.  I told the Wife I would be willing to get my head shaved, or colored (they were doing spray colorings for those that didn’t want to lose their hair), but after a bit, we were getting a little uncomfortable with the dynamics of what was going on.  Clearly, we were out of place in the event.  Most of the people involved clearly knew each other, and while we were not explicitly unwelcome, quite the contrary actually, as it was very jovial, inclusive group, we simply felt like we didn’t fit in with the hair events.  We finished up and headed out.

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3 Responses to “A Day in Hervey Bay – and a Rant on Australian Coffee”

  1. Ben Geiger/ SLIDING DOORZ said

    hey hey im the young dude in that pic wit the guitar, my name is ben geiger, my band name is sliding doorz, i didnt get payed for that cause it was a charity event! im wondering how this got up there? if u have a facebook please add me!! cheers Ben!

    • Wow! We considered actually asking you some information about yourself, but since it was a charity event, and so much was going on, we decided to stay back. So glad you found us! I couldn’t immediately find you on Facebook, but become a fan, and we’ll follow you back! (Sliding Doorz or Ben Geiger)

      • Ben Geiger said

        yea i wish u would have asked me for some lol, im under both, but go wit Ben Geiger ill try become a fan not real got wit it tho lol will try find it! i didnt even no that photo got taken i didnt no it was goin on here, i had a freind that sent me a link on facebook saying i was lookning for something a rather, and stumbled across this check it out!! lol!! were bout are u guys from, wats this site for? who is it for? and how come u only put that 1 day of hervey bay in? im sure u were here more than 1 day? sorry if i sound a little dumb jus dont quite understand how i could get on to this witout knowing wit out knowing wat for u no please explain would love to no wats its about thanks Ben!

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