Water taxi service from Urangan to Fraser Island is starting
FROM Friday onwards you will be able to catch a new water taxi service from Urangan to Fraser Island, which has been tipped to boost the local economy.
Hervey Bay business Spirit of Hervey Bay will launch the regular trips to the World Heritage Listed island on Friday due to popular demand for the service.
The water taxi service promises to take locals, backpackers and visitors alike to Kingfisher Bay from the Whale Bay Marina in just 25 minutes.
It has been seven years since a similar service closed down, leaving the barge at River Heads and Rainbow Beach the only way to get to Fraser Island.
Spirit of Hervey Bay manager Bobbie Hayter said it was the demand for the service that made the water taxis a reality.
"It's not just tourists, but locals who want a quick way of getting to Kingfisher Bay," Ms Hayter said.
"We will leave the Urangan dock at 10am and depart Fraser Island at 2.30pm."
"By the boat not leaving too early, it will allow people to have a sleep-in," Ms Hayter said.
"Then when they say, 'What can I do today?', they have another activity to choose from."
It's a good time for the service to launch with tourism numbers on the Fraser Coast at an all-time high. The number of international visitors coming to the region grew by 16% in the past year, with 147,000 paying the Coast a visit in a 12-month period.
There's no doubt the economy will receive a boost from the new and convenient service, said Aussie Woolshed Backpackers owner Megan Schrider.
"The taxi ride for them (backpackers) to get to River Heads from here costs them about $30-40," she said.
"I think the water taxi is a fantastic idea, especially for those going for just the day.
"For example, some just want to go over and do a little bit of hiking."
The barge departure spot to Kingfisher Bay changed locations to River Heads in 2010.
The water taxi, named Yahoo, will be able to seat 32 passengers and will travel at a speed of about 27 knots.
For now, the service will operate Fridays, Saturday, and Sundays.
Though the first ride is scheduled for tomorrow, trips are weather dependent.
"Hopefully the water taxi will bring more people to Urangan," Ms Hayter said.
"And if there's a demand there, we will do more trips.
"We are so excited to get this started."
Hervey Bay Chamber of Commerce president Sandra Holebrook said the new transport variety could only do good.
In fact, she said the idea was so good that she was surprised it was not already being done.
"It's absolutely needed, and it will encourage locals to go to Fraser Island as now they can just hop across," she said.
"Tourists will become more engaged from having more options to choose from."
Ms Holebrook sees the water taxi addition as a positive step to revitalise the marina precinct.
"Anything that brings people there and encourages them to use the cafes is good for the micro economy," she said.