Plans for A Day on the Bay Cruise
HUMPBACK whales that visit Hervey Bay during winter may have gone home to the Antarctic for now but that doesn’t mean whale watch tour operators Keith and Sue Reid are sitting idle.
They’re busy with fishing and dive charters and finalising plans for a new tour – A Day on the Bay Cruise – that will visit various spots in the Great Sandy Strait and Fraser Island, including the island’s pearl farms.
“Guests will have the opportunity to open their own oyster shell to reveal a pearl and watch as it’s made into a beautiful pendant,” Keith said.
The new tour, being run in partnership with Haigh’s Jewellers, is expected to start a week before Christmas and run Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
Despite being newcomers to the Bay’s whale watching tour industry, Keith and Sue were never hesitant about launching themselves into other ventures during the off-season – a successful first season gave them all the confidence they needed.
“It was fantastically tremendous,” Keith said. “The overall response was excellent.”
Freedom Whale Watch, Fishing and Dive Charters was launched on July 25.
Keith, a former restaurant owner, said what astounded him most during his first season as a tour operator was the increase in whale numbers in Fraser Coast waters.
About four years ago, between restaurants, he did a stint as a deck hand on another whale watch boat. Between then and 2009, whale numbers had increased greatly, he said.
Keith said it was his time as a deck hand that convinced him to give tour operating a go.
“I enjoyed it so much I thought I’d very much like to be part of the industry,” he said. “It’s a great way to make a living.”
The couple also hosts dive tours, in partnership with Gone Diving Hervey Bay, visiting areas around Moon Point and Roy Rufus Artificial Reef.
Many locals will recognise Keith and Sue as former owners of Maddigan’s, Birney’s Seafoods, Gatakers Bay, Raphael’s and The Deck restaurants.
Their 58-foot catamaran, Freedom III, was previously owned by world renowned documentary film maker Ben Cropp.