If you tell someone you're seeing Agnes Water and her neighbor Miriam Vale, they might think you're paying a visit to two Queensland spinster aunts. When you mention 1770, your audience will almost certainly believe you're going back in time.
In reality, these are delicious destinations on the Southern Great Barrier Reef where you'll switch things down a notch, to those laidback, salty beach holidays of your carefree childhood. You know, the ones where you slept with sand in the sheets. Oh, and one Lieutenant James Cook thought this area was pretty special too, as he sailed past on the Endeavour back in 1770 and decided to pause here in search of fresh water.
It’s a delightful drive of around six hours from Brisbane to Agnes Water, winding north along the Bruce Highway past the towering Glass House Mountains and the emerald timber forests of the Sunshine Coast. Pause in historic Gympie for lunch at a local establishment before continuing north. There’s a charming Christmas Cottage full of festive fare at tiny Tiaro, plus the oh-so Retro Espresso for a caffeine hit and the happy Hippy Garage for some casual clothing.
Glass House Mountains
Glass House Mountains QLD, Australia
Gympie QLD, Australia
Continue north past Hervey Bay (pick up some fresh prawns and mangos from one of the vendors along the highway here for dinner), and on through the red rich soil of Childers and the golden cane paddocks of Bundaberg . Look out for the sign for Miriam Vale (the servo here sells fresh crab sandwiches) and turn right, driving along Round Hill Road past archetypal Aussie scrub.
Childers QLD, Australia
This jaunty journey ends at Agnes Water Holiday Park, perched right on the ocean, and with a plethora of accommodation options from basic camp sites to beach bungalows. Want to glamp it up? Book a Breaker Safari Tent - replete with aircon, television and ensuite – and fall asleep to the sound of the thundering ocean.
Agnes Water QLD, Australia
For those who prefer their morning shot of caffeine with a shot of Pacific Ocean, wander down to Holidays Café, perfectly plonked within Agnes Water Holiday Park. From fresh juices to organic coffee, start your day watching the waves roll in over Agnes Water Beach while feasting on a bacon and egg roll or something more substantial. This café opens from 7am so there’s plenty of time to fuel up before hitting your holiday hard.
Agnes Water QLD, Australia
Morning to afternoon
It’s just celebrated its 25th anniversary and it’s easy to see why. 1770 LARC Tours! are a splashdown in every sense of the word. Hop aboard this pink, five-tonne US Army Larc as it ambles along beaches, through creeks and uphill to the Bustard Head Lighthouse – the only operating lighthouse in Queensland open to the public. This is a journey of history and hilarity as you learn about the region’s rich past, it’s gorgeous geography, and take time to swim and sandboard too.
Your Larc will deposit you back at the 1770 Marina which is the ideal position from which to grab dinner from the new Rusty Pelican seafood shack and watch the sun set over the water and to the west (a rarity along the east coast).
Hit your stride early with a walk along the 1770 headland, a short walk of only 250 metres but which is tall on variety through tussock grasslands, vine ticket and woodland. This wild and windy walk offers several lookouts over Bustard Bay and the ocean. You’ll find a rustic stone monument to Cook on the way up to the 1770 headland.
1770 Headland Carpark
1770 Headland Carpark, Seventeen Seventy QLD,...
For another wonderful walk with a difference, wander the Paperbark Trail which has quaint stepping stones over wetlands in this forest which is home to towering Paperbark trees. It’s another short walk but nature lovers will adore this little trek. Cool off nearby at Chinaman’s Beach, a short drive away and secret spot off Springs Road. Locals love this unpatrolled beach which attracts turtles during nesting season but it’s purely for strong swimmers due to the currents here.
Springs Road, Agnes Water Gladstone, Queensla...
It’s a little slice of Bali in the middle of Queensland. Getaway Garden Café greets visitors through teak Balinese doors which open onto luscious gardens, a deck and a lily pond. The vanilla slice here receives rave reviews around the region, and it’s a popular lunch and dinner spot too for its wood-fired pizzas and twice-weekly lamb spit roasts.
Getaway Garden Cafe
Getaway Garden Cafe, Bicentennial Drive, Agne...
There’s two great options in which to spend your afternoon. If you’re still feeling physical, book in for a lesson with Lazy Lizard Surf School which, at $40 for two hours, offers arguably the cheapest surf lessons in the country. In this time you will learn the key basics of the sport, and have a ball, wipe outs and all, smug in the knowledge you are surfing Queensland’s most northerly surf break.
Lazy Lizard Surf School 1770
Lazy Lizard Surf School 1770, Jeffery Court, ...
If, however, you are feeling a little more languid, try a sunset kayak with 1770 Liquid Adventures. These pleasant paddles head out just past the marina and into the ocean where you can spend a delightful afternoon looking for dolphins and eagle rays, before paddling back into the sunset. You can also hire a kayak on your own and paddle the mangroves here.