Listed by most Australian travel guides as an unmissable stop on the East Coast, Maryborough is best known for its incredibly historic buildings and beautiful examples of original Queenslander houses…but there’s another reason to add this quirky town to your bucket list…and it’s magical!
Maryborough, as it turns out, just happens to be the birthplace of P.L Travers. You might recognise her name from the recent film Saving Mr. Banks, or for those who don’t , she is best known as the author of one of the greatest children’s stories ever written, and for creating one of the world’s most loved characters…the supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Mary Poppins!
After spending a couple of weeks in Hervey Bay (where I was volunteering with one of the Fraser Island adventure tour companies) I felt like I needed an escape…to see something other than the beach…and to experience a little history or culture. Being only an hour away, Maryborough made for the perfect day trip option.
I wasn’t even aware of the Mary Poppins connection until I arrived at the historic Town Hall (which doubles as the tourist information) and asked them for some advice on what to see and do. After filling me in on the Thursday market (which was just winding down) the friendly advisor offered me a “Story Trail” walking map.
I couldn’t believe that, despite meeting so many different travellers and people who had visited the town, no one had ever mentioned P.L Travers was born in Maryborough…and that the town is technically the birthplace of one of my all-time favourite stories!
Following the Maryborough Story Trail
It’s worth popping into the Town Hall (which also happens to be a really beautiful building dating back to 1908) before you start the trail to find out if there are any special events or festivals happening during your trip, and then head for the trail’s first stop on the corner of “Cherry Tree Lane” (officially it’s called Richmond Street…but the nickname is so much sweeter!)
The Australian Joint Stock Bank
At the start of Cherry Tree Lane, you’ll see an impressive building on the left-hand side of the road: the former Australian Joint Stock Bank. Not only was P.L Travers born in an upstairs bedroom of the building, but her father was also manager of the bank – leaving many fans of the Mary Poppins book series to believe that this location was particularly inspirational to her writing…and that the character of Mr Banks was a directly inspired by her own father’s job.
Mary Poppins Statue
Right outside the bank, you’ll find the Mary Poppins Statue – complete with magical umbrella and all! The life-sized bronze of the world’s favourite nanny was the first to honour P.L Travers work (although there are a few throughout the world now) and was built after the local community raised over $60,000 for the “Proud Mary Association”.
Cherry Tree Lane Street Library
Want to borrow a book from the world’s smallest (and very possibly sweetest!) library? Check out the cute birdhouse shaped book borrowing box attached to the wall of Cherry Tree Lane! This isn’t technically listed on the Story Trail but it was one of my favourite finds during my walk around the town!
A Spoon full of Sugar Café
If you’ve borrowed a book from Cherry Tree Lane Street Library, stop in at the ever-so-magically-named Spoon Full of Sugar Café for a coffee, cake and a little reading time. On the right side of the café, don’t forget to get your picture taken with Mary Poppins umbrella or, if you are visiting at night-time, keep any eye out for some magical characters appearing in the sky…
Maryborough’s Heritage Listed Queen’s Park and Botanical Gardens are thought to have inspired the park near the Banks’ home in the story of Mary Poppins, and for those who know the books, you might find a feature or two familiar. Take a walk around the bandstand, see the old railway track and find the miniature waterfall hidden behind the lilypond.
Maryborough Need to Know
Maryborough is roughly a three-hour drive from Brisbane, or just 40 minutes by car if you are travelling from nearby Hervey Bay.
The bus from Hervey Bay takes around an hour and runs regularly throughout the day. You can find timetables here.
Where to stay
If you want to extend your trip to Maryborough, there are plenty of budget and mid-range hostels and motels to choose from…
When to visit:
The town holds the Heritage City Markets in Held every Thursday on Adelaide and Ellena Steets, with live music and street entertainment on the Town Hall green.