Hervey Bay develops "beyond wildest dreams"

WHEN John Andersen was growing up in the "small, seaside town" of Hervey Bay, he never imagined it would become the busy regional hub that it is today.

"No one in their wildest dreams imagined that it [Hervey Bay] was going to develop like it did," Mr Andersen said,

"Because originally there was the esplanade, Cypress St and Torquay Rd, there was nothing behind that, only farms."

GROWING: An arial shot of the Urraween area in 1961,where St Stephens Hospital is today.
GROWING: An arial shot of the Urraween area in 1961,where St Stephens Hospital is today. John Andersen

While there had been people living in Hervey Bay since the 1800s, Mr Andersen said the boom for the Bay happened in the 1960s and 70s, when people from Melbourne and Sydney moved up for the lifestyle.

Google Earth Timelapse of Hervey Bay from 1984 to 2016.

Mr Andersen, now president of the Hervey Bay Historical Village and Museum, remembers when the first supermarket opened in Scarness.

"There were very few shops, and then a Brisbane Cash and Carry; the Woolworths or Coles of the day, opened in Scarness," he said.

"That would have been in the late-60s, it was one big start of development in the area."

The historian said another big change was the Hervey Bay police station being moved from Queens Rd to Torquay Rd.

"The first police station was a little tiny building opposite Pialba school in beach road, it was like a little house," he said.

"It was also the courthouse, and a government building; you would go there to get your licence and everything."

MOVING: The Hervey Bay police station was originally in Beach Rd, Pialba. This pic was taken in 1983.
MOVING: The Hervey Bay police station was originally in Beach Rd, Pialba. This pic was taken in 1983. Hervey Bay Historical Village &

While Hervey Bay's expansion developed before Mr Andersen's eyes, Google Earth Engine has created a time-lapse app that shows how an area has changed since 1984.

Managing director of Win Projects, Glen Winney has been working in the region since the early 1980s, and has been part of hundreds of developments in the past 30 years.

Mr Winney said development projections showed development around the health and aged care industries would continue to grow in the region.

"The area is becoming a destination of first-class healthcare," he said.

"That's where the money is, we've got two nursing homes just being built at the moment."

THEN: In 1984, Hervey Bay's development was just starting to take off, as people moved from Melbourne and Sydney to the region.
THEN: In 1984, Hervey Bay's development was just starting to take off, as people moved from Melbourne and Sydney to the region. Google Earth Engine

The developer said projections showed more people in the area would start downsizing their homes; giving up the big backyard for a unit or duplex.

"Up to 33% of housing products will be retiree-based products; lifestyle villages, gated communities and nursing homes," he said.

Mr Winney said those moving here would be more interested in open, public places including the beach and parks along the esplanade.

"We've got a unique set-up along the foreshore where aside form a few small restaurants it's all public space," he said.

Mr Winney said a future of sky-reaching hotels would never happen in Hervey Bay.

When 20-storey buildings were approved by the Fraser Coast Regional Council in October last year, residents were "horrified" by the idea, and feared for the future of Hervey Bay's esplanade.

But Mr Winney said people living in the area could breathe a sigh of relief, as the town planning and cost realities would put a stop to the region becoming like the Gold Coast.

"We've got too much land, you can still buy a four-bedroom house for $360,000, so you're not going to own a two-bedroom apartment on the esplanade for $1 million," Mr Winney said.

"If you look at our whole town planning scheme, this is not a high-rise town, we never will be, you might get some buildings go up, but it's never going to be a predominant thing - it doesn't suit our lifestyle and market."



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