Royal fever infects Fraser Coast as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle prepare to visit paradise
The Duke and Duchess will visit Fraser Island, or K’Gari, which means paradise in Butchulla. (ABC Wide Bay: Ross Kay and Danielle Bonica)
Hervey Bay locals have spent the past week getting ready to receive not only the “most huggable royals ever” but the media contingent that follows in their wake.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will arrive in the town on Monday before heading to Fraser Island, a World Heritage-listed site and the largest sand island in the world.
Security checks have been put in place, local council workers have been trimming hedges, and businesses have been preparing to serve meals fit for a prince.
Seaside Cafe and Restaurant owner and chef Carolyn Brummell has changed her cafe’s menu and included some specials to take advantage of the visitors.
“We found out Meghan’s expecting a baby so we have the ‘bun in the oven muffin’,” Ms Brummell said.
“We actually modelled that one on their wedding cake because they had a lemon and elder flower-flavoured wedding cake.
“So we made the muffin the same flavour and put the rhubarb filling in there as the little surprise in the oven.”
Chef Carolyn Brummell has changed her Hervey Bay cafe’s menu to make it fit for a prince. (ABC Wide Bay: Scott Lamond)
The chef has continued the theme and created other dishes inspired by the royal wedding, along with drinks the couple is said to appreciate.
These include a ‘What happened when Harry met Meghan’ alcohol-free mocktail in case the Duchess of Sussex pops in.
Ms Brummell is not confident the couple will come to her cafe overlooking the blue water of Hervey Bay, and is not sure she would cope if they did.
“Oh yeah the pressure,” she laughed. “I’m not sure I’d be very good with that to be honest.”
Carolyn Brummell has designed a cafe menu inspired by the Duke and Duchess’s visit. (ABC Wide Bay: Scott Lamond)
The Fraser Coast has a large seafood industry, so for trawler operator Elaine Lewthwaite the visit is about making sure something fresh from the ocean is fed to the couple.
“We have to really serve them Hervey Bay scallops but it’s a little early for them,” she said.
“But the thing they shouldn’t bypass is the diamond skull mullet.
“It’s a traditional food of the Indigenous and it’s the absolute bush tucker from the sea.”
Local industry hopes tourists want to holiday like a Royal
Fraser Coast Tourism and Events general manager Martin Simons believes having Prince Harry and Meghan in the region will raise the island’s profile and highlight the natural beauty of the beaches, rainforests and sand lakes to a new audience.
“It’s amazing. It’s a fantastic opportunity,” he said.
Mr Simons believes the Royal visit could lift the profile of some of Fraser Island’s photo-friendly locations such as Lake McKenzie. (ABC Open contributor keykodesign)
“If I sat back and said I want to market this region, and I wanted to bring the most notable couple in the world, you wouldn’t go too far past Harry and Meghan.
“It’s also a serious endeavour he is on in relation to rainforest protection.”
Connecting with the Fraser Coast region’s Indigenous mob the Butchulla people is also part of the tour.
“The Butchulla have a bigger role in managing Fraser Island, or K’Gari, these days,” Mr Simons said.
“They have been there for … years before white people came, so to see them back and having a major role in meeting Prince Harry and Meghan, I think that’s a good thing.”
With each tourist in the region spending $600 on average, Mr Simons believes the publicity from the visit will bring dollars into the local economy.
“The pulling power of this couple is amazing,” he said.
Woman obsessed with Royals delighted by visit
As a young girl in the 1980s, Julieanna Reid from Hervey Bay connected with the Princess Diana “fairytale” story and has been obsessed with the Royals ever since.
Plates and cups featuring the “people’s princess” line the shelves around her home, and she even has a thank you letter on the Royal stationery from when she invited Diana to her own wedding.
Now Prince Harry and Meghan are the focus of Ms Reid’s admiration, and she feels they could have more impact than Charles and Diana on young minds around Australia.
“Because of social media I think they could be bigger. Before, we had to rely on TV and newspaper articles,” she said.
“She’s such a beautiful girl. They are so in love, they are just gorgeous, and I will be beside myself if I get to get anywhere up close.”
Ms Reid has a kayak at the ready in case she needs to make the short paddle from the mainland to Fraser Island to meet the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
A quilt made by her mother, featuring Australian animals cooking sausages on a barbecue, is also at the ready to be presented to the expecting couple.
“I’m hoping to get this to them. I don’t know what I would say, I would just cry,” Ms Reid said.
“My youngest daughter and I went to Sydney to see Will and Kate and my mum had knitted a jumper for George.
“It was only one of two gifts taken on the day and I got a letter of thanks with postcards from Will and Kate thanking us for the jumper.
“If we don’t get it to them, we will send something over when the baby is born.”
Ms Reid hopes to present the Duke and Duchess of Sussex with a quilt her mother made for the future Royal baby. (ABC Wide Bay: Scott Lamond)