Continue 185 kilometres (115 miles) north, through the gold rush towns of Gympie and Maryborough to the whale watching capital of the world, Hervey Bay. In calm waters protected by Fraser Island, about 10,000 humpback whales visit every year on their annual migration to Antarctic waters, making it the best place to see the ocean giants up close. Between July and November, spend the morning on one of nine whale watching cruises. They include high-speed adventure on Spirit of Hervey Bay's Yahoo tour, and a family-friendly cruise with Blue Dolphin Marine Tours.
From River Heads (just south of Hervey Bay), catch a 50 minute ferry to the world’s largest sand island, Fraser Island, where you can spend the rest of the day four-wheel driving over sand dunes, swimming at Lake McKenzie and hiking to the Cathedral cliffs before camping on the beach. Alternatively, continue 110 kilometres (68 miles) north through vibrant sugarcane fields to Australia’s favourite rum-producing town, Bundaberg. After a tour around the famous Bundaberg Rum Distillery, travel just east of the city to Mon Repos Beach in time for sunset. Here you'll find the largest loggerhead turtle rookery in the South Pacific. Evening tours will take you to protected parts of the beach to see turtles lay their eggs (November to February), or turtle hatchlings make their way to sea (January to March).