Agnes Water and 1770, Wednesday 22 to Sunday 26 May 2019

Agnes Water and Seventeen Seventy are two coastal towns located only a few kilometres apart at the southern end of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The town of Seventeen Seventy was named in honour of Captain James Cook’s first landing in Queensland. The Endeavour anchored in Bustard Bay on 24 May 1770, while his first landing on Australian soil was at Botany Bay near Sydney. Each year, the town of 1770 does a re-enactment of the landing as close to 24 May as practicable. There is also a 1770 Festival, and we were lucky to be in the area when this was on. We first heard of the town of 1770 when Grant and Jacqui went there for their honeymoon 10 years ago. We were curious to see what the place was like.

During our Around Australia trip, Dexter welcomed his swimming and walking sessions and enjoyed every minute of them, then he would “crash” at night. At Agnes Water, we chose the caravan park right on the beach, mainly for Dexter.

The Agnes Water Caravan Park has amazing facilities catering for various accommodation choices: powered and unpowered sites, beach front luxury cabins with designated parking facilities, studio apartments, bungalows for couples only, and treetop safari tents, as well as a coffee shop right on the beach serving breakfast and lunch. When we checked into the caravan park on Wednesday, we were amazed with their facilities, and of course, the pristine beach. Unfortunately, the beach adjacent to the caravan park was a NO GO zone for dogs, but dogs were allowed on lead immediately to the north, with access through a council reserve. We had another concrete slab for our campsite. We cooked red snapper fillets that we bought from Grunske’s, with a fish spice coating that is becoming too salty. Katie made a nice avocado salad using avocado from Jamie and Denise.

Many campers had bicycles. Nice tents in the background.

Thursday started off with Dexter’s beach walk and swim. He loved playing in the breakers, but it was disappointing that he had to stay on lead.

We spent the morning planning the remainder of our journey to Port Douglas. For lunch we had rissoles left over from our last dinner at Woodgate Beach. Ian tried to use Wiki Camps, but found it rather cryptic. On the other hand, CMCA’s GeoWiki was brilliant, and we used it to plan a stop over to break up the next trip to Airlie Beach. Ian had a short afternoon nap—the first of our trip.

We enjoyed some of our drinks obtained from Bundaberg in the late afternoon, and Ian played his guitar and Katie’s ukulele using songs from Rob in the Gold Coast.

Dexter had another great beach paddle on Friday morning. After breakfast, we went for a drive to the north and stopped at Joseph Banks Regional Park. Botanist Joseph Bank came ashore with Captain Cook and collected 33 plant species. Katie took photos of the Lieutenant James Cook Monument Cairn (a concrete obelisk). We could not take Dexter for a walk along the path of the Regional Park as it was not dog friendly. However, we located a little track to the beach in Bustard Bay , and Dexter had a short paddle. Lunch was grilled red emperor fillets and chips at a dog friendly bistro near the beach.

Commemoration of Captain Cook’s landing
Dexter having a paddle in Bustard Bay, 1770

Festivities for Captain Cook’s landing re-enactment at 1770 were scheduled to begin at 4:00 pm. To kill some time, Ian visited the 1770 Distillery and spoke with John, the owner, who has 4 varieties of fruit liqueurs. Ian bought a bottle each of two of them.

John and his range of fruit liqueurs at the 1770 Distillery

We found a very convenient parking spot for Matilda for the re-enactment. There was abundant seating available when we arrived, so we set ourselves up at the end of one of the rows of chairs. Ian bought a beef vindaloo and Katie had a mild chicken curry. A service club sold drinks, and was providing silicon cups for wine at $5, with a $4 refund at the end of the night if people did not want to keep them. Intrigued, Ian bought one with a sav blanc in it, and kept it for a practical souvenir of our visit. It felt a bit funny drinking out of it at first.

We enjoyed the re-enactment, which was well directed under a beautiful sunset. Captain Cook had a menagerie of animals on the Endeavour, including a couple of greyhounds. At least one of them came ashore at 1770. The re-enactment also explained why Bustard Bay got its name. The story is that the landing party saw a large bird, that they thought was a bustard. They saw this an opportunity to get some fresh meat, so the “bustard” was shot, and the bay where the Endeavour was anchored was named accordingly. Dexter enjoyed the experience tremendously, ingratiating himself with children and adults sitting on blankets around us.

Sunset over Bustard Bay, 1770
Cast of the re-enactment, including a greyhound

Next year, 2020, we understand that plans are for the Endeavour replica to be part of the re-enactment to commemorate the 250th anniversary of Captain Cook’s landing. We would certainly consider coming back next year to be part of the celebrations, maybe on a 4WD trip to the tip of Cape York?!

When Ian rang to book the caravan park at Agnes Water, we were only going to stay until Friday. However, we were encouraged to stay another night to attend both the landing re-enactment and one day of the 1770 Festival.

Early on Saturday morning we took Dexter to Aunty Ray’s Doggie Daycare. The place was a little bit rough, but we felt that Dexter could handle it for a few hours on what was a fine day. We then parked Matilda in the town of Agnes Water, and boarded the shuttle bus to the festival venue. It was a very small event but well organised. There was a street parade and a fun run, which we missed, and at the main venue there were fishing, food, retail and games precincts. It was multicultural, with a Chinese dragon parade and a bagpipe band, but the most enjoyable performances were by the ukulele group and a kids acrobatic and dancing group.

The local ukulele group entertained the crowd
A relaxed Ian enjoying the performances on the stage

At one of the retail outlets called Kombi Dalts, Ian bought a comfy pair of long plants to wear in the hot evenings when the bugs are out, while Katie bought a shoulder bag and an overalls dress. All the products are made in Thailand, where the owners live. They love selling at festivals, including folk festivals. With our purchase, the shop owner gave a small present to Katie–a handmade fan.

Katie with one of the owners of Kombi Dalts and her new fan

In order to commemorate our visit to this special festival, both of us bought a 1770 tank tops. We thought these could be handy if we come here again for the HMB Endeavour Replica anchoring in Bustard Bay from 23-25 May 2020! We also bought some yummy beef jerky to enjoy for our trip.

We found a street store called Govindas selling delicious vegetarian koftas, so we had them for lunch and kept some for dinner.

We loved Govindas’ vegie curry, rice, koftas and a sweet grainy stuff

Back at the caravan park, Ian and Katie began making some cumquat jam with almost 1 kilo of cumquats brought from home, and half a lemon. We managed to fill 3 jars of cumquat jam.

After picking up Dexter from Aunty Ray’s, we took him to the off-lead beach near Agnes Water SLSC for a beach run and play. Katie was a bit worried about sharks, as it was dusk and there was nobody else on the beach at that time. Ian reassured her that the sharks had been scared off by crocodiles migrating south due to global warming.

Dexter had his usual paddle along the beach early on Sunday morning. We packed up and left the Agnes Water Caravan Park at 10:00 am to continue our journey north to Airlie Beach. We filled up our fuel at a service station just outside town recommended by the caravan park staff. A long drive was anticipated today with an overnight camp at the Flaggy Rock Community Centre.

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