Oh, the dilemma – you want to be immersed in the street art that makes city streets so exciting but are yearning for a tropical break with palm trees, warm breezes and crystal white beaches.
Good news! There is a destination where both your longings can be satisfied.
Yeppoon on the Capricorn Coast offers not only a picture-perfect Southern Great Barrier Reef escape, it’s also home to a heap of murals at locations you’d want to visit even without the epic street art. Add to that markets, boutiques, galleries, fresh seafood and surprising café culture.
Ease into the first morning with a beach walk at Cooee Bay followed by a caffeine hit from a couple of Goddesses at a secret coffee bar. This place is so good that the locals would prefer to keep it a secret. Only 50 metres from the beach, Two Sisters Coffee Bar is a reinterpretation of a quaint 1950s beach shack brought into the 21st century thanks to murals by Mash Design. Out back are chairs and tables on a sun-soaked lawn with plenty of shade courtesy of market umbrellas and a gorgeous old tree. The mural on their side wall says it all… another day in paradise.
From the coffee bar wander up to Wreck Point for jaw-dropping views and an artistic tribute to what is one of Queensland's biggest mysteries yet almost no-one knows about it. Way back in 1848 the schooner Selina left Brisbane bound for Sydney, but never arrived. And her crew vanished! The ship’s final resting place is known though because it turned up 15 months later waterlogged and upright in the sand beneath what then became known as Wreck Point.
What’s better than looking at a calm turquoise ocean? Splashing in it, and the perfect spot to enjoy a paddle is Kemp Beach.
This is an unpatrolled stretch of sand 10 minutes from Yeppoon, so stay in close and keep safe. Low tide is an excellent time to explore life in the rock pools and looking out from Bluff Point at the southern end of the beach is where you’ll spot turtles. These Kemp Beach marine marvels inspired a set of Simon McLean murals that encase the amenities block adjacent the car park.
With lunch on the agenda, drive a little further south to the relaxing beach village of Emu Park with its retro surf vibe. Choose from bakery, café or pub fare accompanied by superb sea views. Energised by lunch, walk past the stunning cockatoo mural on the side of the Australia Post building by London artist Rosie Woods to reach the Emu Park Surf Life Saving Club.
It is here that a slightly naughty, mostly monochromatic, nod to bathing in the early 20th century will get you smiling. Titled Beach Party, the mural’s whimsy won it the Best Amusing Mural title at the Australian Street Art Awards.
There’s another award-winning public art piece nearby. We promise that no matter how many military memorials you’ve visited, the Centenary of ANZAC Plaza and Walk will stand apart.
While the large sandstone arc-shaped memorial is eye-catching, it is the light-interactive tempered glass monument that captures the landing at Anzac Cove in April 1915 that mesmerizes. The beachside position on a small crest is also a fitting location because it reflects somewhat the escarpment terrain that our fallen heroes faced upon landing that fateful morning. A pleasant stroll towards to the low headland provides a snapshot of all major WWI ANZAC conflicts through interpretive stations and storyboards found amidst viewing decks, shelters, seating areas and places of quiet reflection that all boast spectacular ocean vistas.
With tummy rumbling, once again it’s time to head back to Yeppoon. Pull into the Town Centre Carpark on Queen St – it’s far more than just a central place to park. A multitude of murals have transformed this into one of Queensland’s most impressive free galleries, and time spent exploring its facades, nooks and crannies will provide you with an otherwise impossible insight into what makes this town unique. Keep a look out for giant faces beaming down at you, a pram-bound chihuahua barking in protest, a table tennis match, a clumsy fireman, a smiling dolphin and so much more.
This art spotting has no doubt brought on a big appetite. Luckily Pie Alley is only a few steps away. Here you’ll find a light-hearted mega mural tribute to the alley’s namesake – O’Grady’s Bakery. For 40 years John and Judy O’Grady served pies all through the day and well into the early morning hours, and today a relatively new eatery is keeping up their night-time tradition. From Thursday to Sunday Pie Alley Blues comes to life with New Orleans-style food, top-shelf liquor and outdoor dining. They even have a pot pie to keep the alley’s tradition alive. Settle in for the night and enjoy blues music performed by some of Queensland’s most entertaining musicians.
After a sound sleep kick-start the next morning with an early morning swim at Yeppoon’s quirky mural-encased Surf Life Saving Club (by Simon McLean) followed by breakfast at one of the much-loved ocean-front cafes that open early.
If all the restrictions are lifted by the time you arrive in Yeppoon then another option to soak up the central Queensland sun is the 2,500-square-metre beachfront Yeppoon Lagoon (currently closed as a COVID-19 safeguard). It has a magnificent swim-up infinity edge overlooking the ocean plus a lap area, as well as a shallow pool for the little ones. There’s also lounges, BBQs, an eatery and some heart-warming murals at the public amenities by Out There Co.
Yeppoon is one of the most accessible towns to the Great Barrier Reef. The sparkling jewel in the southern reef’s crown, Great Keppel Island, is only a half hour away. From 27 June Freedom Fast Cats will resume their all-day Adventure Cruise inclusive of boom-netting, snorkelling, island exploring and lunch on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays and their Coral Lunch Cruise with a bonus glass-bottom-boat coral viewing on Tuesdays. In the meanwhile, you can still enjoy a scenic transfer on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays to the island.
The Southern Great Barrier Reef’s natural wonders make it one of the most amazing places in Australia, and if you want a unique souvenir to complete your short break then we know the perfect spot. Kracken Unleashed, a huge octopus breaking through the retaining wall in Barry Street, is embraced by locals with great affection, resulting in it becoming a favoured backdrop for selfies, proposals and school formal photos. After taking your photos wander up one street to the esplanade to enjoy its cafes, restaurants and bars, all of which are perfectly positioned to watch the moon rise over the sea.
Thumbs up to the Livingstone Shire Council for their foresight in creating a great street art trail.
The Australian Street Art Awards is a "Tourism Awards for Public Art" program with 10 categories (including a new Landmark Sculpture category) recognising places that use publicly-accessible art in all its many forms to attract visitors. 2020 nominations open in August. Promoting artists is a charter of the awards.
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