Looking for things to do in Maryborough? You might be surprised at the variety this regional town on the Fraser Coast has to offer. Here are 18 of our top picks to get you started.
This picturesque heritage city of Maryborough is just a 3-hour drive north of Brisbane and half an hour from the gorgeous beaches of Hervey Bay. Located on the banks of the Mary River, the town is best known for its connection to Mary Poppins and with a history that dates back to 1847, you’ll want to stop for a while and discover more.
Whether you chose to take a day trip to Maryborough from one of the popular surrounding tourist areas such as Hervey Bay and Bundaberg, spend a few days in the RV friendly town exploring the sights, or stop off on your south-east Queensland road trip, it’s well worth setting some time aside for a visit.
The key sights we cover below are included on this map for your convenience, you can see their relativity to each other, plan your route or save it to your phone for future reference.
Table of Contents
- Getting to Maryborough
- Things to do in Maryborough
- 1. Queens Park
- 2. Mary River Parklands
- 3. Street Art in Maryborough
- 4. The Bond Store
- 5. The Gallipolli to Armistice Memorial
- 6. Brolga Theatre
- 7. Fay Smith Wetlands
- 8. Anzac Park and Ululah Lagoon
- 9. Heritage City Walk
- 10. Cruise on the Mary River
- 11. The Story Bank
- 12. Wild kangaroos in Maryborough
- 13. Police Paddock Regional Park
- 14. Maryborough open gardens
- 15. Maryborough City Market
- Where to eat in Maryborough
Getting to Maryborough
It’s most common to arrive in Maryborough by car, it’s located off the Bruce Highway around 3 hours north of Brisbane and 1 hour 20 minutes south of Bundaberg. It’s an easy drive and there are frequent fuel and rest stops directly off the highway.
Another option is the Tilt Train operated by Queensland Rail. We rode it a few years ago from Brisbane to Maryborough, it continues on the North Coast line from there all the way through to Cairns.
The train takes 5 hours and for us is a relaxed way to travel. You check your luggage and it’s unloaded for you to collect at your destination so you have the freedom of only managing your hand luggage on board with you. Oversized seats offer far more legroom than air travel, you can get up and wander around whenever you want and the scenery is fabulous.
Greyhound Buses also offer a daily bus service from Brisbane to Maryborough. The express has 6 stops and will take just under 5 hours, the 11 stop option will take around 6 hours.
Video – Exploring the Fraser Coast
Things to do in Maryborough
1. Queens Park
The heritage-listed botanic gardens were established in 1860 and first gazetted in October 1873. Many of the large old trees date back to that time and the ornate band rotunda was added in 1890.
Other features of the park are the sweeping lawns, impressive giant fig trees with a maze of ariel roots, a lagoon pond, and river views.
A local brass band plays in the rotunda on the last Sunday of the month when you will also want to listen out for the conductor’s whistle as the 13cm gauge model steam railway comes to life chugging through the park.
Located on Sussex Street, Maryborough.
2. Mary River Parklands
If you continue on from Queens Park towards the Wharf Street precinct you’ll find yourself in the Mary River Parklands. The historic port of Maryborough was opened in 1847 and was transformed a few years ago with new gardens, artworks and winding pathways.
It’s one of the best spots to appreciate the river from the city and the new 23-metre long Queen’s wharf was also built here in the style of the old timber wharves that in past years lined the riverfront.
Located on Wharf Street, Maryborough.
3. Street Art in Maryborough
The mural trail in Maryborough tells the story of the city. It is around 2 km long and includes 30+ murals across 8 city blocks.
The one shown above for example is at the back of the Telstra building on Wharf Street. It’s called ‘Our World’ and tells the story of the link between Lady Mary, the wife of Governor Sir Charles FitzRoy, and the naming of the city and river.
You’ll find a guide to the murals here but we suggest picking up a trail guide at the visitors centre and starting from there, the first mural is located right next door inside city hall.
4. The Bond Store
Adjacent to the Mary River Parklands you’ll find the old Bond Store. The red brick building dates back to 1864 and had a central function in the Customs process provide secure storage of goods of value that would attract a tax, key items at the time such as cigars, tobacco, rum, wine, spirits and opium.
While the building has been restored the handmade bricks, earthen floors and barrel rails still date back to that time. Today it houses some displays and artifacts related to the early history of the portside area. Within its stores, you can now purchase a curated range of regional produce and taste a range of local ports and liqueurs. The Bond Store also serves as a venue for events held in the city.
Located at 101 Wharf Street, Maryborough.
5. The Gallipolli to Armistice Memorial
Located on the high side of Queens Park this impressive and moving memorial is a community project inspired by letters written at the front to family and loved ones back home.
The horror and hope are captured in equal measure and it really is one of the best memorials we’ve experienced, a must-see for any Australian.
Follow the footsteps of Lieutenant Duncan Chapman, first ashore on the 25th April 1915 as they lead from the bow of the boat, built to scale from ironwood, and past the soaring pillars representing the daunting cliffs of Gallipoli. Read their stories and follow the path of inscribed pavers, statues and motion-activated recordings towards the cenotaph.
The memorial was opened in July 2018, it is free to enter and accessible.
Located on Adelaide Street, Maryborough.
6. Brolga Theatre
Thinking of a night out with a show or live music? The Brolga Theatre and convention centre is where it happens in Maryborough. Situated on the riverbank adjacent to Queens Park there is plenty of onsite parking. Inside there are a variety of flexible performance spaces and they even host outdoor events at the Riverstage in the park next door.
7. Fay Smith Wetlands
The Fay Smith Environmental Corridor is a 10 hectare wetland remnant in Maryborough. The woodland area has grassy paths and elevated boardwalk areas through the paperbark swamp, red bloodwoods, swamp mahogany, acacias and forest red gum.
The parks is named after Fay Smith who was a well known local conservationist, birdwatcher and nature photographer. She was active in reforestation projects, foreshore replanting and sustainable farming practices. As one of the few remaining wetlands in the area it is particularly popular among birdwatchers.
The wetlands are part of the Great Sandy Biosphere, a UNESCO recognised global conservation site that includes Fraser Island.
8. Anzac Park and Ululah Lagoon
We detoured out to this park to have a quick walk and drink our coffee but we ended up staying much longer. The rolling grass area is dotted with picnic tables under large shady trees and manmade shelters together with clean BBQ facilities that overlook the lagoon.
There is a walking path along the lagoon inside the park which is home to many species of waterfowl and you can extend your walk to a 5 km circuit by following the fitness trail along the lagoon front then follow the streets along the outside of the golf course and back through the park.
There’s a good range of kids’ play equipment grouped into several sections under large shade covers and a flying fox.
They’ve also just completed a fabulous new all-abilities playground and zero-depth water park in June 2021. The developments include more picnic shelters and landscaped gardens. This is a great spot to relax under the trees or to bring the kids for a fun afternoon.
Located on Alice and Cheapside Street, Maryborough.
9. Heritage City Walk
The Maryborough city centre is flat and compact. It’s easy to navigate yourself on a self-guided tour and if you’re not sure where to start you can pick up a map and some pointers at the Visitors Information Centre at the Town Hall.
An even better option is to pop on your walking shoes and meet up there at 9 am for a free guided walk taking in the colourful history of the region, its historic sites, buildings and unique character.
10. Cruise on the Mary River
The Mary River is the lifeblood of Maryborough. As with many Australian towns, it’s the very reason for their existence and choice of location, but as any river city knows they have to be respected and can bring disaster.
Maryborough knows that better than many and a brick wall next to the Portside Restaurant shows the improbable height that the river reached during various historic floods including the relatively recent 2013 inundation through to the record of 1893.
A great way to experience the river is to take a cruise on it. There is one operated by Spirit of Hervey Bay that leaves from the Hervey Bay marina heading out into the bay before travelling up the Mary River. You spend a short time in Maryborough having lunch or enjoying the park before returning back to the bay. The trip takes around 5 hours all up and has the chance to spot dolphins and turtles along the way. There’s an interesting commentary and the opportunity to observe life on the river.
11. The Story Bank
P.L Travers was born Helen Lyndon Goff in Maryborough in 1899. The daughter of a bank manager she was born in the bedroom above the bank in Richmond Street, the site where the Story Bank resides today. We of course know her as the author of the Mary Poppins series amongst others.
The Story Bank may have links to P L Travers and Mary Poppins but what it’s really about is the art of storytelling in all its forms and letting imaginations run free. It’s a colorful, fun, creative space that will inspire children and adults alike.
Located in Richmond St, Maryborough QLD 4650
12. Wild kangaroos in Maryborough
While you won’t see them hopping around town the area has plenty of farm and bushland offering habitat to these native marsupials. Passengers are bound to spot a few out of the car window especially if travelling early in the morning or later afternoon.
One almost guaranteed spot is the Mary Poppins Reserve that runs between O’Brien and Admiral Street. It’s a fairly small suburban park that has a decent sized mob of kangaroos calling it home. The local residents and kangaroos share the space peacefully so if you pop out here to see the sculpture of Mary Poppins please respect the privacy of the locals, both marsupial and human.
13. Police Paddock Regional Park
The Police Paddock Regional Park is an interesting area to visit if you are after some time out in nature, a touch of exercise, or some time spotting the local wildlife but it also has a bit of local history. It’s not something I’d thought about really but back in the day all police stations had a paddock, I suppose there had to be somewhere to rest and run their horses.
This one had remained public land throughout the years and not been built on but wasn’t formally gazetted as a park until 1986. Some of the infrastructure, particularly the boardwalk area dates back to that time and is in need of some repair so watch your footing, it’s not suitable for wheelchairs.
Keep an eye out for koala in the park and there’s also a good variety of birds seen along the tracks.
14. Maryborough open gardens
Maryborough has some gorgeous gardens and if you are in the area during August you might be able to catch the annual open garden festival. Featured gardens run the gambit from traditional English gardens surrounding century-old federation homes to farm gardens, permaculture food forests, tropical and public garden displays.
You will find more on the Maryborough open gardens on the official site here.
15. Maryborough City Market
On Thursday morning each week between 7 am and noon you will find the central section of Adelaide Street near City Hall closed off, this is where they host the weekly markets. There were a lot more stalls than I expected, especially for a mid week market which in many places tend to be smaller.
There was a really nice coffee cart, several snack food vendors, stalls are selling clothing, art and craft wares, most locally made and good quality. Then there are a couple of stalls selling plants and a good selection of fresh produce vendors including fruit, vegetables, honey, olives, small goods, freshly baked breads, roasted nuts and more.
With most markets being held on the weekends it was a great opportunity for us to fill our market bags with local ironbark honey, lemons, dragonfruit, broccoli, and avocados all at great prices and excellent quality. This is a great option to stock up if you are staying in the area or passing through with the caravan or motorhome.
Located on Adelaide Street, Maryborough.
Where to eat in Maryborough
The Portside Cafe and Restaurant
We stopped in here with family over the Christmas break for a quick morning coffee and loved the friendly staff and white table cloths on the open verandah seating. We recently had the opportunity to revisit to try out the brunch menu.
They put a strong focus on fresh local ingredients and robust flavour combinations. I ordered the locally grown mushrooms on sourdough with white bean puree, avocado, spinach, herbs and halloumi, it was delicious. Drew was equally happy with the organic eggs benedict and local smoky bacon.
The menu selection is great including a diverse brunch menu until 11, then lunch and dinner options ranging from tacos and burgers to crispy skin salmon and New York strip with a choice of sauces and all the trimmings.
Located on Adelaide Street, Maryborough.
I first visited Alowishus for their great cafe selection up in Bundaberg years ago, I ran into them again at the Taste Bundaberg festival where I joined the queue for their incredible gelato flavours. More recently we rediscovered them for lunch in Maryborough right next to city hall and sure enough, they have a fabulous array of Alowishus made gelato that incorporates local ingredients from a variety of Wide Bay producers, right there at the counter.
That gelato counter is dangerously close to the start of the Thursday market site if you’re feeling like a little extra treat.
Located at 232 Adelaide Street, Maryborough.
Another great foodie stop is this cellar door run by a local Tairo family. Located just off the main highway north it’s a convenient rest stop and if you enjoy lychees their lychee ice cream is an absolute must-try, the lychee and ginger is our favourite but that might be because I can’t bring myself to pass it up and try the others. It’s made here in SE Queensland on the Sunshine Coast with fruit from their family farm.
The farm contains 3000 lychee trees selected to fruit from early until late in the season but that is still only mid-December until mid-February so they have extended that lychee goodness all year round with their selection of wines, liqueurs, sauces, and vinegar. Their caramelised lychee balsamic vinegar is a pantry staple for me, great with grilled meat and salads, drizzled on fruit and added into all manner of sauces and dressings.
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