A Former Local's Guide To Yeppoon

5 March 2015

In February this year Yeppoon was hit by the devastating Cyclone Marcia. Many people around the country may not even know where Yeppoon is or what it looks like, but it's clear from the rapid response of emergency services and volunteers that the locals truly value their coastal Queensland home.

While the repairs to houses and businesses continue and power slowly returns, Yeppoon's tourism will see a significant drop. However, there's no doubt based on the efforts already put in by the community that it will soon return to a state of coastal serenity.

When that happens the visitors will return, and if you're one of them, you'll see why the people have worked tirelessly to rebuild their town.

 Main Beach Yeppoon (credit: Tourism and Events Queensland)

I spent about seven years in Yeppoon. Every summer I'd see the tourists come in, focusing their attentions on Main Beach and Great Keppel Island.

Although these are two crucial elements, those visitors missed out on the parts of Yeppoon that, to me, make it stand out as unique.

From a former local, here are some things to do if you're ever in town.

1. Embrace Small-Town Nightlife Along James Street

Yeppoon's nightlife hibernates during the week and wakes up on weekends. If you're visiting on a Friday or Saturday, you can enjoy a good night of bar hopping down the main drag, James Street.

Start at The Strand Hotel, a beachfront bar and beer garden that's a popular dining establishment and local watering hole. Its location and regular live music performances set it apart from Yeppoon's other bars.

 Dinner and drinks in The Strand's lounge bar (credit: The Strand Hotel)

Close by in the town's centre is The Marsden, which has a real underground pub feel, with pool tables and lounges in one room, bar and dance floor in the next, and an outdoor patio at the back.

Then there's the Railway Hotel, the farthest back from the beach, where you'll meet Yeppoon's true locals. It's gritty, like a stiff Bundy Rum and Coke, and rarely crowded, but it's worth ducking into for a drink or two if only to hear the stories from Yeppoon's founding fathers.

2. Time Your Visit For Yeppoon's Biggest Events

If you're in Yeppoon for one of its four big yearly events, you may wonder why I've referred to it as 'sleepy'. During these festivals the population seems to triple as locals and residents from neighbouring towns gather to celebrate.

The festive season kicks off with the Australia Day Beach Party (26 January), a 10-hour, family-friendly event with market stalls, food vendors, fireworks, rides and theatre and music performances.

After a quiet period, the season returns in June with the Yeppoon Show. For one weekend you can enjoy rides, a petting zoo, fashion parades, goat racing, miniature horses, show bags, wood chopping and other such carnival shenanigans.

Next up is The Seahaven Village Festival (21-23 August, 2015). The Village Festival brings a more artistic flavour to the shores of Yeppoon, with a line-up of performing and visual artists, musicians, children's activities, craft workshops, food vendors and market stalls.

The year ends with the annual Yeppoon Lions Tropical Pinefest (October), first run in 1960 when the main event was billy cart racing. These days you won't see kids hurtling down hills on wood and tin tyres. However, Pinefest does showcase a street parade, live music, street stalls, carnival games and fireworks.

3. Indulge In Yeppoon's Local Eats

You won't find it hard to locate a serving of fish and chips (with chicken salt, of course) on the Capricorn Coast. However, Yeppoon has a few other culinary treats that often fly under the radar.

Forget about kebabs or McDonald's for a late-night snack, duck into Pie Alley (just around the corner from The Strand) for a pie bun. This hearty creation, where a meat pie fits snugly within the confines of a fresh bread roll or two slices of bread, is a popular 1am meal for young locals.

If sauce and salt aren't doing your hot chips justice, take a stroll down James Street to Svendsen's Takeaway, where hot chips aren't simply hot chips. Some of the combinations available are: chips, cheese and bacon; chips, cheese and bolognaise; and my favourite – chips, cheese and barbecue sauce. Still not full? Take a shot at the battered Mars bar, which alone can induce a food coma.

 One of Svendsen's specialties: chips, cheese and bacon (Getty)

4. Explore The Coast

Exploring Yeppoon's coast doesn't mean seeing only Main Beach and Great Keppel Island.

If you have a 4WD, you can access 9 Mile Beach and Five Rocks via Byfield National Park. The track may be a bit of a challenge for first-time drivers on sand but if you get through, you'll be greeted with unspoilt coastline and one of the better surfing spots in Yeppoon.

Humpy Island is a lesser-known island of the Keppel cluster. Rugged and untarnished, it has become a popular camp ground for locals. Days on Humpy might be spent walking to the peak, swimming, fishing and simply relaxing on the picturesque beaches.

Ben Stower

I love the kind of travelling that is one part strategic planning and two parts spontaneous adventure. Whether I'm exploring my local city or a small town in the middle of nowhere, I'm always hoping to find something no one else has discovered.