From the wide sandy surfing beaches of the Gold Coast to the idyllic palm-tree fringed bays of its tropical far north – and all the way in-between – Queensland possesses some of Australia’s most iconic beachside resort towns. Due to the reputation of the Sunshine State for terrific weather, beautiful scenery and a friendly laid-back way of life, it’s no wonder that towns and cities scattered along its coastline are amongst the country’s biggest tourist drawcards. Located approximately three hundred kilometres north of Brisbane, via M1 and the Bruce Highway, Hervey Bay is no exception. Often touted as Australia’s whale-watching capital, Hervey Bay offers nature-loving visitors the opportunity to experience a pristine marine environment, as well as the wonders of nearby World Heritage listed Fraser Island.
If you’re seeking a peaceful weekend getaway, just a few hours’ drive from Brisbane, Sanctuary Lakes Fauna Retreat at Urangan on the southern shores of the bay, might be just the place you’re looking for. Situated on the banks of a small picturesque lake, in ten acres of beautifully-landscaped tropical gardens, the retreat consists of thirty-six self-contained villas – providing a private yet secure retreat where you can relax and rejuvenate, while still being close to all the conveniences and attractions of the nearby bayside towns.
Sanctuary Lakes Fauna Retreat offers two kinds of villas – standard villas that are suitable for solo travellers or couples, and slightly larger ones that are perfect for families. On our recent visit my husband and I opted for a standard villa – a choice we were very pleased with. All villas are open-plan, and we were impressed with the spaciousness ours provided. Entrance to each is from a shady private balcony, overlooking the lake – an awesome spot to relax or enjoy a meal after a busy day. The balconies are also great spots to watch the plentiful local bird-life and if you’re lucky you may even spot a tortoise as it swims by. Although the villas are situated in quite close proximity to each other I was pleased to discover that, due to being well-designed, they were still very private.
Our standard villa could sleep up to three people and contained a double bed and a sofa bed, as well as ample storage space that included a large wardrobe, set of drawers and bedside tables. The family villas contain a queen-sized bed, and three single beds, or a double and a single bed in a separate room. Each cabin also has a well-stocked kitchenette, complete with refrigerator, portable hotplate, saucepans, microwave and kettle, as well as plenty of cooking and eating utensils. Each also contains a spacious self-contained bathroom, with a shower and separate toilet.
The scenic lake and beautiful landscaped gardens were also a big attraction for me during our sojourn at the retreat, and I’d strongly recommend a leisurely stroll around them. The lush green lawns and various kinds of vegetation, including large eucalyptus trees, coconut palms, bananas trees and various native species created a tranquil park-like environment, and the lovely lake is much larger than it initially appears, enabling each villa to have a water frontage. Both children and adults will be fascinated by the various species of native birds that can be seen in the gardens, and two cheeky semi-tame white ducks, although not native birds, became firm favourites with my husband and I.
If you’re visiting Hervey Bay during the hotter months you’ll be glad to know that the retreat has an attractive well-maintained pool area for the comfort and convenience of guests. This is surrounded by parklands, and fully fenced. Apart from the pool itself, there are sun lounges to relax on and picnic tables. If you’re travelling with children, there is also a small playground.
Sanctuary Lakes Fauna Retreat is centrally located in Hervey Bay, being situated at Urangan, close to the gorgeous Botanical Gardens, the beach and the terminal where whale watching cruises and boats to Fraser Island leave from. It’s also situated just a short drive from a couple of large shopping centres and popular beachside eateries.
In a nutshell, if you’re a bit put off by the tourist hoards of the Gold and Sunshine Coasts further south, a sojourn in Hervey Bay offers visitors an attractive and much less commercialised alternative. Some visitors liken the area to the way the above-mentioned resort towns used to be a few decades ago. For visitors of every age, Sanctuary Lakes Fauna Retreat offers a relaxing holiday experience, close to all the area’s most popular attractions yet surrounded by the beauty and serenity of nature. Finally, although the facilities offered by the retreat are fabulous, the price was pleasantly affordable. For our three-day visit in mid-September 2016 we paid approximately a hundred dollars per night.
Sanctuary Lakes Fauna Retreat is situated at 1 Shell Street in Urangan. To find out more, check out the Sanctuary Lakes website or call them on 07 4125 4445.