Ben tours the beaches in a unique bus heading to the sand dunes and beyond … looks a bit wild to us!
When Captain James Cook set foot upon the shore in what is now Queensland in 1770, Town of 1770 was born and the area became the birthplace of the state. Botanist Joseph Banks led the landing party and discovered exotic birdlife and lush tropical vegetation and the area, now known as the Agnes Coast, is still a trove of natural treasures.
For a peaceful and idyllic Queensland holiday, the Agnes Coast is beautifully unspoilt. It has a mountain backdrop, national parks on three sides and the surf meets the Great Barrier Reef right there on latitude 24. In fact it is the closest mainland point to the reef. Imagine endless deserted white sandy surfing beaches, rocky headlands, a bay with deep water anchorage and rimmed by mountains and 26 coral cay islands just 32km offshore.
As if all that wasn't enough, the climate is generally described as "perfect". Summer and winter temperatures range between 21ºC to 30ºC with more than 300 days of sunshine a year. The water is ideal for safe family swimming, and there is good estuary fishing and mud crabbing. For board-riders it is the last northern surfing beach on the east coast, so the area has something to offer just about everyone.
A fun way to see the sand dunes and waterways is to take a trip in a pink LARC. These Lighter Amphibious Resupply Cargo vessels look rather like the cross between a bus and a boat. They were built for military purposes as they can navigate land and sea, and mainly transported troops and equipment in coastal areas.
The 300hp V8 diesel vessels were built for the US Army in Connecticut in 1966. They are aluminium and can be driven in two-wheel, three-wheel or four-wheel drive modes, or all wheels can be switched off and the propellers turned on, allowing them to go for long periods in water.
LARCs can carry around two-and-a-half tonnes of weight and if one is hit by a large wave, it won't capsize. It will just roll until it resurfaces. They can also climb steep gradients and can cope with three metre waves. LARC drivers need to have a marine licence as the vehicles are classed as a boat with wheels rather than a bus or truck with a propeller.
The versatility of the LARCs has seen them being involved in over 80 sea rescues around 1770. In one storm a trawler broke anchor and the plucky little LARC was able to tow it back to the beach.
The Mergard family bought the LARCs because nearby Bustard Head is inaccessible by road and they felt too many people were missing out on enjoying its beauty. People learn so much about the environment on one of their tours and you will probably see pods of dolphins or turtles, birdlife, kangaroos and even cattle on Middle Island, which is under pastoral lease.
There are two tours to choose from a day Paradise Tour or a one-hour Sunset Cruise. They are guided and take in such interesting places as Eurimbula National Park and Bustard Head Lighthouse and participants can go sand-boarding on the dunes.
Morning tea and lunch are served on the day trip and it is a delightful day of fishing, sunbaking, swimming and, tide permitting, exploring sea caves beneath the headland under the lighthouse.