The highlight of our visit to Harvey Bay was a whole day spent at the free waterpark called Wetside on the esplanade. Although the day was showery, our girls didn’t mind the cooler weather as they exhausted themselves playing in all the fountains.

Wetside was only opened a year ago after being built with a $5million grant from the state government that was promoting lasting community projects to celebrate 150 years of Queensland’s statehood. It is billed as a “water education park”, and most of the water used in the facility is recycled stormwater, so it’s very water-efficient.

Wetside, Harvey Bay, December 2010
The main playground had a number of different water activities happening simultaneously, with a huge bucket on top of the structure periodically dumping its load to the kids below.

Wetside, Harvey Bay, December 2010
The younger girls enjoyed playing in the toddler section of Wetside.

Wetside, Harvey Bay, December 2010
Whereas Aisha tackled the main water playground with gusto.

Wetside, Harvey Bay, December 2010
The establishment's water treatment machine was put on display and the process was thoroughly explained through a series of posters. It was fascinating to learn about how the water is cleaned and recycled.

Wetside, Harvey Bay, December 2010
I really liked this beautiful wood and metal sculpture of a humpback whale. Harvey Bay is on the migration route for humpbacks, and so twice a year they can be seen off the coast.

Wetside, Harvey Bay, December 2010
Off to one side, a wave machine gave David and me the opportunity to try surfing. It was really fun to have a go, and now I wonder if I could stand on a board in the surf!

Wetside, Harvey Bay, December 2010
On Friday and Saturday nights, Wetside features a light and fountain show. The highlight for us was watching a projected image that appeared on a fountain that spouted a very fine mist.

Wetside, Harvey Bay, December 2010
The rest of the light and fountain show was average — not stunning, but not too long either.

The musical fountain show that I saw at Sha Tin in Hong Kong was much better. The girls were only mildly entertained by the light show, and we had encourage them to stay seated for the length of it.

However, our stay in Harvey Bay was made memorable by the day at Wetside. We also enjoyed visiting other playgrounds and letting the girls play on some drier equipment. One very special playground was an all-abilities playground at Pialba. As well as equipment to allow children with a range of abilities to engage freely, it featured cartoon communication boards to encourage children to speak to each other using Auslan.