Agnes Water

After arriving at Agnes Water on Friday afternoon we settled in to our site at the Discovery Coast Caravan Park (http://www.discoverycoastcaravanpark.com.au/) about six kilometres away from the Agnes Water town centre. The proximity to the town did not worry us unduly as we prefer the peace and quiet offered by this park and enjoy the comfort of space between the vans (something not available in the parks in town where vans are slotted in like sardines). The owners of the park have only recently arrived from Western Australia and have plans to make changes at the park, including, I suspect its name – the credit card slips list the park as The Reef Caravan Park.

Our Caravan Site at Agnes Water

Our Caravan Site at Agnes Water

The view from under our awning at the caravan park at Agnes Water

The view from under our awning at the caravan park at Agnes Water

The park has an area of 40 acres and a good variety of birds have made their home in the trees in and around the caravan sites. There are concrete slabs, power, water and television points for the caravan sites and a centrally located modern amenity block (in discussions with the owners we learned they have plans to update the ablution facilities in the near future). We thought the park was very good and will have no hesitation in returning for a future visit.

Butcher birds check out the awning

Butcher birds check out the awning

Kookaburra at Agnes Water

Kookaburra at Agnes Water

Butcher bird near the caravan at Agnes Water

Butcher bird near the caravan at Agnes Water

Perusing the literature we had picked up at the park office we discovered there was a LARC Tour (http://www.1770larctours.com.au/) available the following morning so we rang up and booked our spots on the tour. We had intended to sleep late but because we needed to be at the tour office by 8:00am next morning we set the alarm to rise early enough to meet the deadline.

The LARC (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LARC-V) is an amphibious vehicle originally used mainly for military purposes and in the 1960’s was used to ferry goods from ship to shore. The unit we toured in was built in December 1960 and had the US Army number of 682. We were informed that maintenance cost of the LARC was quite high given the environment in which they mainly operate.

The cockpit of the LARC in which we took a tour

The cockpit of the LARC in which we took a tour

The LARC identification plate

The LARC identification plate – number 682

Our tour departed at 8:30am from the marina at the Town of Seventeen Seventy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1770,_Queensland) and we assembled there with sixteen other passengers, a driver and a tour guide to embark on the journey along the shores of Bustard Bay (http://www.bonzle.com/c/a?a=p&p=36586&cmd=sp) to the lighthouse on Bustard Head (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bustard_Head_Light).

Crossing Round Hill Creek on the first part of the tour

Crossing Round Hill Creek on the first part of the tour

A pelican flies off as the LARC approaches across Round Hill Creek

A pelican flies off as the LARC approaches across Round Hill Creek

The journey would take us across the waters of Round Hill Creek on a making tide then along the beach adjacent to the Eurimbula National Park (http://www.nprsr.qld.gov.au/parks/eurimbula-joseph-banks/) to Eurimbula Creek. At this point there is a camping area in the National Park (http://www.findacamp.com.au/camp-site.php?camp=1202) which on the day of the tour was well patronised with several families in place. Fishermen were taking advantage of the incoming tides and were casting for whiting and other species.

Looking back to the camping area at Eurimbula Creek

Looking back to the camping area at Eurimbula Creek

Driving along the beach adjacent to Eurimbula National Park

Driving along the beach adjacent to Eurimbula National Park

We disturbed these sea birds as we approached Middle Creek

We disturbed these sea birds as we approached Middle Creek

Being in an amphibious vehicle has advantages when driving from land to water to land and this is the beauty of the LARC Tour. Along the beach a little further and we come to Middle Creek and when we cross the creek we reach Middle Island (http://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/ahdb/search.pl?mode=place_detail;place_id=101049) which was formerly leased for grazing purposes and occupied for many years by the Bowton Family. Two sisters lived alone on the island after the death of their father and while one left the island very infrequently the other essentially left the island only once when the sisters relocated to live on the Gold Coast.

Fishing near the shore on high tide at Middle Creek

Fishing near the shore on high tide at Middle Creek

On the banks of Jenny Lind Creek (http://beachsafe.org.au/beach/qld1460) named after the schooner Jenny Lind which floundered at the mouth of the creek in 1857; interestingly the ship was salvaged and pressed into service only to flounder again in the future lending its name to Jenny Lind Bank (off Tannum Sands); the tour stops for morning tea at a site established by the tour company. Morning tea is comprised of many tasty treats with tea or coffee provided. Toilet facilities (via chemical toilets) are available at this site for the convenience of visitors. Following morning tea, the LARC moves across Jenny Lind Creek and starts the climb to the site of the lighthouse on Bustard Head (http://www.lighthouses.org.au/lights/qld/Bustard%20Head/Bustard%20Head.htm).

The LARC at the picnic spot near Jenny Lind Creek

The LARC at the picnic spot near Jenny Lind Creek

The LARC picnic spot

The LARC picnic spot

The track up the headland to Bustard Head Light Station

The track up the headland to Bustard Head Light Station

Climbing the hill to the lighthouse

Climbing the hill to the lighthouse

Grass trees on the hill at Bustard Head

Grass trees on the hill at Bustard Head

The view as we climb to the lighthouse

The view as we climb to the lighthouse

The slow climb up the steep hill is accomplished without too much difficulty by the LARC and we reach the restored lighthouse facility now operated by the Bustard Head Lighthouse Association Inc. The lighthouse was automated in 1986 and the site was no longer permanently occupied. As a result the buildings on the site were vandalised; in 2002 the Association obtained a lease of the area and steadily restored the buildings and grounds to the standard that prevailed in 1986 (http://www.abc.net.au/austory/content/2004/s1120499.htm). The standard of the buildings and grounds that visitors inspect is quite spectacular and a credit to the Association and particularly to Stuart Buchanan and his wife Shirley. We were invited to inspect the Lighthouse Keeper’s cottage and found the interior relatively modern and very well restored compared to the pictures of destruction (following the earlier vandalism) hanging on the walls of the cottage.

We arrive at the Bustard Head Lightstation

We arrive at the Bustard Head Lightstation

The Bustard Head Lighthouse

The Bustard Head Lighthouse

The Lighthouse Keeper's Cottage

The Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage

Butterflies flocked to this tree outside the Lighthouse Keeper's Cottage

Butterflies flocked to this tree outside the Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage

Butterflies on the Grevillea

Butterflies on the Grevillea

A beautiful day at Bustard Head

A beautiful day at Bustard Head

A model of the lighthouse supply vessel MV Cape Moreton on display inside the cottage

A model of the lighthouse supply vessel MV Cape Moreton on display inside the cottage

A model of HMS Endeavour on display in the cottage

A model of HMS Endeavour on display in the cottage

Part of the original light on display

Part of the original light on display

The lighthouse itself was manufactured in England and shipped to Australia in pieces (it was actually assembled in Britain to ensure it all fitted together before being shipped to Australia in pieces); when finally located on site the bits and pieces were all bolted together again to become the lighthouse. Inside the lighthouse the number of bolts and nuts is amazing and one can imagine the difficult task of bolting together each of the sections and tightening the many, many bolts and nuts.

Inside the lighthouse on the ground floor - note the sections and nuts and bolts

Inside the lighthouse on the ground floor – note the sections and nuts and bolts

Climbing to the top of the lighthouse is achieved by a circular staircase inside the walls; at one stage part of the staircase was on the exterior of the structure but modifications were made to enclose the staircase as the elements were proving too harsh on the exposed metal staircase. The view from the platform at the top of the structure is delightful even though the lighthouse is not the tallest structure as lighthouses go. From the top one can see the ships moored waiting to gain entry to the Port of Gladstone and of course the panorama of the nearby area is simply stunning. We were lucky to be blessed with a relatively clear day although there was some haze in the distance.

Vessels moored awaiting entry to the Port of Gladstone

Vessels moored awaiting entry to the Port of Gladstone

The village of Turkey Beach can be seen in the distance

The village of Turkey Beach can be seen in the distance

The Graveyard on Bustard Head

The Graveyard on Bustard Head

Several individual graves exist - this belongs to a small child

Several individual graves exist – this belongs to a small child

Returning to the lightstation from the graveyard

Returning to the lightstation from the graveyard

On the ground again we visited the graveyard where a number of early residents associated with the area are buried. Then it was back on the bus (err LARC) and slowly done the hill from the lighthouse to Jenny Lind Creek then across the creek for a tasty lunch of sandwiches, fruit and billy tea. With everybody’s appetite satisfied it was back onto the LARC and down the creek a short distance to a substantial sand blow where those who were keen enough had fun sand boarding. There were a number of young folk among the group who thoroughly enjoyed the escapade together with a few of the more mature among us who also enjoyed sliding at furious pace downhill and into the shallow water near the shore – others like me just watched the fun.

Travelling down the hill  back to the Jenny Lind Creek picnic area

Travelling down the hill back to the Jenny Lind Creek picnic area

A view of the coast back along Middle Island

A view of the coast back along Middle Island

The mouth of Jenny Lind Creek

The mouth of Jenny Lind Creek

The thrill of the slope

The thrill of the slope

The thrill applies to all ages

The thrill applies to all ages

It gets wet at the bottom of the hill

It gets wet at the bottom of the hill

But it's really great fun

But it’s really great fun

A sea eagle soars over the sand boarding

A sea eagle soars over the sand boarding

After the sand boarding we all re-boarded the LARC for the return journey to the Town of Seventeen Seventy retracing our steps along a much larger beach as the tide was much lower than during our morning trip.

Eastern curlew on the beach as we return

Eastern curlew on the beach as we return

The eagle was ready to eat his fish on the branch of this driftwood before we disturbed him and he flew off with catch in claw

The eagle was ready to eat his fish on the branch of this driftwood before we disturbed him and he flew off with catch in claw

Returning to Seventeen Seventy on a much lower tide than when we departed

Returning to Seventeen Seventy on a much lower tide than when we departed

Back at Seventeen Seventy we decided to take a little drive around the town to see what had changed in the 30 years since we lived at Miriam Vale; we found that while some things still existed there was much more that was new or upgraded. One thing that was missing was the Doorway of Destiny monument (http://www.smh.com.au/travel/activity/active/the-other-cook-town-20081113-5z01.html); apparently the monument which existed in the late 1970’s was demolished due to failure of the supporting columns; the brass plaques from the monument now reside in the Agnes Water Museum and the rest of the structure was apparently buried on site. A further account written by Jeanette Elliot (wife of John Elliot who was Chairman of the Council when I was the Shire Clerk at Miriam Vale) makes interesting reading (http://lcboard.com.au/community/article/dc/59-Captain-Cook-Monument-The-Doorway-of-Destiny.html).

A painting of the Doorway of Destiny Monument which once stood on Round Hill Head

A painting of the Doorway of Destiny Monument which once stood on Round Hill Head

Brass plaque from the original monument now at the museum at Agnes Water

Brass plaque from the original monument now at the museum at Agnes Water

There has been a lot of work constructing car parks, walking tracks and viewing platforms on the headland at Seventeen Seventy where the monument once stood and most people would be unaware that the structure ever existed. We walked the tracks and took in the views and quite enjoyed our afternoon.

Margaret at one of the viewing platforms on Round Hill Head

Margaret at one of the viewing platforms on Round Hill Head

A lovely spot for a wedding - lucky its low tide

A lovely spot for a wedding – lucky it’s low tide

Waves caressing the shore at an inlet on the ocean side of the head

Waves caressing the shore at an inlet on the ocean side of the head

Cairn commemorating Cook's landing at Round Hill Head

Cairn commemorating Cook’s landing at Round Hill Head

Returning to Agnes Water we went in search of a particular street; for whatever reason, after I left Miriam Vale Shire, the Council (or possibly the Developer) decided to name a street at Agnes Water after me – mind you it is a very small street which leads me to think that the developer (one Lance Woodrow) may have had a hand in the matter as I made life difficult for him (in the interests of the ratepayers of the Shire); nice to see that one’s time in a position was not forgotten. Anyway I was not aware that the street had been so named until a Councillor from Maroochy (where I went to work) some years later presented me with a photo of the street sign. So we found the street and took a photo of me under the sign.

A man needs a Hobby street of his own

A man needs a hobby street of his own

We had decided that fish and chips would be a fitting evening meal after our tour and so went to one of the local restaurants for takeaway. We sat out the front of the shop happily consuming a great feed of Barramundi, Dory, Potato Scallops and Chips served on a platter of white paper.

A little further exploration of Agnes Water followed before the daylight faded and we found that the town of Agnes Water today bears very little resemblance to the town we knew in its infancy when the Jeffrey Brothers allowed fishing shacks to be constructed on their forty acre block on the beach. I doubt either Arthur or Tom Jeffrey would have ever envisaged (or desired) what the place would develop into.

Entrance to the Agnes Water museum

Entrance to the Agnes Water museum

About Arthur Jeffrey

About Arthur Jeffrey

Arthur's first museum building (also his shack)

Arthur’s first museum building (also his shack)

On Sunday morning we returned to the Agnes Water Museum (http://places.lcboard.com.au/dc-qld/Agnes-Water-Museum-l3.html) as it was not open the previous evening. We spent an interesting time reviewing the exhibits and reading newspaper clippings from the past. We discovered a centenary book about the Miriam Vale School and spent some time leafing through this as our eldest daughter started school at Miriam Vale.

Back at the van we prepared for our departure next morning as we headed for home on the Sunshine Coast.

More later!

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