Official opening of the Urangan Pier on March 3, 1917.
Official opening of the Urangan Pier on March 3, 1917. George Seymour

Symbol of Urangan's past: How pier changed fishing village

ON SATURDAY, while walking through the vibrant and colourful Urangan Pier Park Markets, a few people stopped me to ask me about the history of the pier.

Every day hundreds of locals and visitors enjoy walking along the pier with its unparalleled sea views.

It is an iconic landmark for the Fraser Coast but it is also an important historic site.

The large timber structure has been a constant presence here on the sandy beach at Urangan for over a century. A constant presence, but also an evolving one.

The scene being enjoyed at the markets is different to that which brought activity here earlier in the pier's history.

POPULAR SPOT: The Urangan Pier today.
POPULAR SPOT: The Urangan Pier today.

While the pier is now a place of recreation and passive enjoyment of ocean views, what its construction and form represents is the transfer of land-based commercial activities to transport over water.

It was originally built to facilitate the export of the region's sugar, timber and coal.

The trains and the ships no longer meet at the end of the pier, but the legacy of its construction and its use lives on.

The arrival of the Urangan Pier would bring about significant change for the village of Urangan.

Timber-getters began to move through the Urangan area in the 1860s.

In the late 1860s and 1870s the area was opened up for selection and the prominent Maryborough solicitor Edward Corser took up the majority of the Urangan township blocks.

Towards the end of the 19th century a small fishing industry was established at Urangan Point, but the town's progression would arrive with the construction of the pier (1913-1917).

The pier was not immediately a success.

For the first 12 years of its operations it was underutilised and was in some places referred to as "Corser's Folly”.

It was originally longer, reaching 1107 metres with a storage building on its head.

The last traffic that kept the pier in commercial use came from shipping tankers discharging fuel to the large storage depot on the land at Urangan.

From there the fuel was then distributed locally including via the "bomb” train, a train with tankers attached that brought the fuel to Maryborough depots.

This did not last and with the closure of the pier in 1985, demolition began.

This was not long after the secretive demolitions of Cloudland and the Bellevue Hotel in Brisbane and there was a growing recognition across Queensland regarding the importance of preserving historic sites for future generations.

Following a local campaign to save the pier, 868 metres of the structure were retained and handed over to Hervey Bay City Council.

We celebrated the Urangan Pier Centenary last March with a large festival featuring music, historical re-enactments and activities.

I found it really touching to see such a clear demonstration of community connection to, and pride for, this historic landmark.

While the train line, which terminated at the end of the Urangan Pier, has been torn up, there are remnants and reminders of it throughout Hervey Bay and in the scrub between Hervey Bay and Maryborough.

A couple of blocks back from the pier, on Pier Street, several metres of the line remain in the street surface.

It is possible to follow the old railway line, which brought goods to and from the pier, as the mobility corridor runs for most of

the length of Hervey Bay along the old railway corridor.

Thanks to the community that saved it from demolition, the Urangan Pier remains as a link to our history and as a unifying force for the region.



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