24/5/1770 Cook landed here and we landed 23/7/2010
Trip Start May 01, 2010
58Trip End Oct 03, 2010
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1770 VIA TANNUM SANDS 23 to 26 July, 2010
We headed out from Barney Beach towards Tannum Sands just 15kms away, as recommended by a guy from Rockhampton whom we had met at the Auckland Lookout in Gladstone. Brisbane is now only about 500kms away (the distance from Perth to Geraldton) but we plan to take over two weeks to get there. We found we had received good advice on Auckland outlook and later read in a pamphlet that the twin towns of Boyne Island and Tannum Sands ‘have long been a well kept secret, hidden from thousands of people obliviously driving past the turnoff on the Bruce Highway every year, not knowing what they were missing out on.’ Boyne Island is surrounded by the mighty Boyne River, and is connected to Tannum Sands by the John Oxley Bridge. They are such pretty towns with houses dotted across the hillsides with beautiful views over the beaches and Pacific Ocean. We were wondering what all these people do here, 12,000 in the two towns, and presumed they were possibly retired people, or workers who commute to Gladstone. We read later that Boyne Island also has an Alumina Smelter discreetly located so as not to spoil the beautiful location.
We drove down Pacific Drive towards the esplanade park with magnificent views over the houses and the Pacific Ocean - we found that we are no longer by the Coral Sea. Being early morning, there was plenty of parking at the esplanade so we parked the van and walked down to the lovely white sandy beach. As we have now left the tropics, the beaches are not palm lined as further north but instead have attractive native pine growing alongside the beach. As we left the beach we met a couple on their morning walk who live locally. It turned out that he is an engineer who commutes to an offshore rig off the North West coast in Western Australia. He flies there via Gladstone, Brisbane, Perth, Exmouth, to the rig for three weeks and then comes home for three weeks to be with his family. He has been doing it for a few years and they find it to be a comfortable lifestyle.
Driving out of the car park we stopped for a lady taking photos of the very unusual and bumpy turtle traffic management humps, which we also photographed. We then headed back to the main road passing and admiring the many different styles of houses in these two pretty towns.
The rest of the 100kms to the twin towns of Agnes Waters and 1770, went quickly as we drove through the countryside of long brown grass and spindly trees which again brought back memories of Southern Africa. The only other turnoff we noticed was to Turkey beach.
Good to see some recognition of the brush turkeys seen so often wandering around the many places we have been to in Queensland. At the pretty town of Miriam Vale, we turned off the Bruce Highway and back towards the coast, through Agnes Water to the pleasant bush caravan park at 1770 called Captain Cook Holiday Village. We were allocated a good drive-through site and soon had the caravan set up and the kettle on to enjoy a cup of tea. During lunch we read the write up of Agnes Waters and Town of 1770 ‘which sit side-by-side on the Discovery Coast, Queensland’s most northern surfing beach, surrounded by national parks and idyllic beaches….This pristine natural area offers white sandy beaches, tranquil estuaries and magnificent views from rocky headlands. Deepwater National Park is a breeding ground for loggerhead turtles, which lay their eggs on the beaches between November and February.’ Wrong time of the year for the turtles but nice to imagine them coming up the beach and then the little turtles making their way back down after hatching. This place is famously known as the birthplace of Queensland and Seventeen Seventy was named after Lieutenant James Cook and his crew from the Endeavour Ship who came ashore on 24 May 1770.
After lunch we went out to discover these twin towns for ourselves. We turned right out of the caravan park and made our way past the Marina, a second caravan park and as far as the road went. The last section of the road to the lookout was closed due to road works so we drove around the area admiring the mansions and beach shacks, most with amazing views overlooking the ocean.
Many of what we thought were private residences are actually holiday homes available to rent. The oldest and the one with character is the Heritage Cottage right on the sea front facing the eastern shore line with sandy beaches and waves. The ones on the other side look out over the calm waters of Bustard Bay. Having seen all there is to see of the Town of 1770 we headed back down the road to the nearby Town of Agnes Waters. Here are bigger Holiday Apartment blocks, backpacker hostels and quite a few small shops located together in a small shopping precinct on the main road.
This is obviously a popular place for young people with lots of bikini girls and guys with surfboards walking along the road from the beach. Parked outside the shops were the usual Wicked Campervans and Motorhomes of differing sizes and designs reminding us of a very mini Airlie Beach which had been swamped with young tourists. We called into the little IGA to restock on fruit and vegetables and then visited the local bakery. They bake all their bread onsite and while busy trying to decide whether to buy a delicious looking dark rye loaf or another loaf full of seeds which looked very interesting, the lady informed me that the latter was a Yoghurt and Honey loaf which is very popular. I asked her if it was sweet and she said she hadn’t tried it but she would slice it for me and I could take it to try it! I realised then that she was giving me this $5.80 loaf, so I felt that I should also buy the nice looking dark rye loaf as well. The yoghurt and honey loaf was finished in a couple of sittings spread with butter and honey and was so delicious and nutty. Tomorrow when we drive past on our way out we will definitely stop and get another one of each.
We weren’t disappointed, but we expected 1770 to be a small old historical town. We were told later by one of the locals that it is very much as James Cook would have seen it in 1770. There has been little change over the years, with the harbour never having been dredged resulting in restrictions on the size of boats being able to call into the town. Some people though, have been calling for changes to accommodate the tourists. Back at the caravan park we read up what the lonely planet has to say about this lovely laid back holiday place. “Surrounded by national parks, sandy beaches and the blue Pacific, the twin coastal towns of Agnes Water and Town of 1770 are among Queensland’s most appealing seaside destinations. The tiny settlement of Agnes Water has a lovely white sand beach, the east coast’s most northerly surf beach, while the even tinier town of 1770 (little more than a Marina) marks Captain Cooks first landing in Queensland.” On the beaches are advertised Surfing lessons and kayak hire as well as the Great Barrier Reef diving and sailing adventures.
During the evenings, with the last Travelpod done, emails answered, no TV reception again, we sat and watched a couple of DVDs about Swiss Railway Journeys through the Alps that we recently bought at Crazy Clark’s. We also took advantage of the long evenings and played again the Caravan and Motorhome DVD on Bunderberg, Hervey Bay (pronounced like Harvey in WA) and Gympie where we are heading next. During the first day, after an early breakfast, we managed to get to the laundry at just the right time to find an empty machine and plenty of line for all our washing. The day sped by and before we knew it the clock struck 4pm, time to go down to the Marina to catch an afternoon cruise.
It was rather fun experiencing a ride on the LARC (Light Amphibious Resupply Cargo) vessel that do little trips across the bay and into the national park. These vehicles are constructed of Aluminium and are powered by 300hp diesel motors drinking a litre of diesel for every kilometre travelled. Originally made for the United States Army there were sold to Australia for use in the Vietnam war.
Not popular with the troops due to their slowness making it difficult to drive through an ambush in one of these. We entered the water and it felt like a normal boat for a while and then suddenly it was bumpy as if we were in a land vehicle on a corrugated road. As we looked down we realised the reason was that we were driving in the water across a corrugated sandbar! Soon we were out the water travelling along the edge of the Eurimbula national park looking at the kangaroos who weren’t at all surprised to see us.
We drove on the sand as far as we were going when then the driver, waiting for an opportune moment between waves drove straight into the sea. The sunset was magnificent as we made our way back towards the Marina passing the tour boat The Lady Musgrave and yachts anchored there.
It was a great way to spend an hour and by the time we were back at our car the sun had completely disappeared over the horizon.
On the second day here at 1770, we decided to walk the kilometre down the track from the caravan park to the beach through the bush where we were greeted by a magnificent sandy beach with lovely waves.
We walked along the beach as far as we could go before coming to a rocky area where the waves were pounding the shore.
We climbed the cliff face and found a small path that ran along the cliff edge hoping that it went to the lookout we couldn’t visit earlier because of the road works. It didn’t and found we were back at the Heritage Cottage we had driven past the other day with the barriers still in place restricting access to the lookout even for pedestrians. A bit disappointed we passed by a row of new holiday homes and apartments and made our way to the beach at Bustard Bay where the water is very calm with no waves.
This section has small rocks from which fisherman were trying their luck whilst enjoying the lovely sunshine. There were many people enjoying a stroll along the seashore, soaking up the sun or having a pint in the local pub.
A monument built to commemorate Cooks Landing here stands close to the shore and we took the opportunity to take a photo. Soon after, we passed the marina and headed up the main road until we reached the entrance to our caravan park.
The quick walk that we had originally intended turned out to be a three hour route march. Thirsty and a little hot under the collar, we showered and then sat down and enjoyed a long cold drink and a toasted bacon sandwich to replenish some of the lost energy. Happy hour was spent with our next door neighbours, imbibing the customary glass of wine and snacking on German sausages, cheese and biscuits. We have had a good couple of days here and now we are getting ready for our next destination, Bundaberg.