The twin coastal towns of 1770 and Agnes Water sit within 6 km of each other on the Discovery Coast. They are the gateway to the Southern Great Barrier Reef and Lady Musgrave Island. Natural bushland, national parks and the Coral Sea surround this hidden gem for nature, sun and beach lovers. Controls on development mean there are no skyscrapers or apartments taking over the beach or bush. We visit here in the hope of seeing the Loggerhead turtles at Deepwater National Park.
The Loggerhead Turtles
With only the sound of the wind blowing in from the dark ocean and the only light from the moon casting a gentle light, we walk in anticipation on the soft sand and hope the moon will soon guide a turtle onto the beach to lay her eggs.
Deepwater National Park is 15 km south of Agnes Water. The park is the second largest nesting site in Australia, with Mon Repos in Bundaberg the largest. Visiting in January we are lucky to see adults and hatchlings. We walk the beach at high tide and full moon – the best opportunity to see mothers leave the ocean to lay their eggs. Sometimes at 3 am, but it’s well worth it to witness and appreciate one of the most amazing wonders of nature. Though anytime between sunset and sunrise is a good chance of seeing them. Dragging themselves out of the water and finding a suitable nesting site is excruciating for them and they use all their energy. We watch female turtles absolutely exhausted try and climb up over almost vertical sand dunes to lay their eggs and in amazement we watch them dig decoy nests. One turtle has only one flipper, but she still goes through the motion of digging and we help a turtle that gets stuck in rocks close to the shore.
The turtle volunteer group stands pegs into the sand near the nests with the dates on them when the mother turtle lays her eggs. We take note of the ones nearing the incubation period of 45-55 days and hope to see the little babies. Cracked eggshells from the nests are strewn on the sand after being dug up by predators and footprints of hopeful raiders circle the baby’s nests. We become more disillusioned and lose hope that we will see the baby turtles.
On our last day before the orange sun rises over the ocean, baby turtles emerge from their nest after digging for days! At first, we think crabs scuttle across the beach. The babies scurry to the safety of the ocean and it’s fascinating to see their determined purpose as they leave little tracks in the sand. Even without a mother’s guidance, they know they have to reach the ocean as soon as possible to start their journey.
Only 1 in 10000 of these baby turtles will make it to adulthood and return in 30 years to lay their eggs. After spending the weekend here, we can see it’s a miracle that any of them survive at all. Having the opportunity to see the turtles in their natural environment and without the crowds is a once in a lifetime chance. Though the possibility of seeing the babies is low there is more chance of seeing the female turtles come ashore to lay her eggs. Visiting Deepwater National Park and seeing the turtles are the highlight of our trip to Agnes Water. While here we have fun exploring other parts of the area.
Main Beach at Agnes Water – A safe and patrolled beach in spring and summer. The beach stretches 5.5 km to the Round Hill Head so there’s plenty of room and it’s also a great walk to do at low tide.
Beach at 1770 – Sheltered and safe for swimming. We enjoy cocktails here while waiting for the sunset.
Springs Beach – The perfect spot for beach lovers and board riders and the best surf beach about 3 km south of Agnes Water on the Springs Road. Turn at the Springs Beach sign and the 800-metre dirt track leads to the car park and a 200-metre walking track takes you to the deep blue of the Coral Sea behind the sand dunes.
Chinaman’s Beach – On Springs Road between Workman’s Beach and Springs Beach. Left of the track when arriving on the beach is a sheltered cove that has shade in the morning and afternoon. Turn off on Springs Road near the distillation plant on Spring Road. The currents are strong here so be very careful if swimming.
Honeymoon Beach – A secluded cove at Round Hill. The track leads down from the big anchor monument at Round Hill Head parking lot. There is a rough hut here reminiscent of Robinson Crusoe’s Castaway where some couples spend a romantic night.
1770 Headlands Lookout – Stunning views on Captain Cook Drive and a gorgeous place for sunrise. There is also access to private secluded beaches on the walks.
Butterfly walk – Thousands of Blue Butterflies come together to breed and hibernate. The 15-minute walk starts from Captain Cook Monument in 1770. The best time to see the magical display is March to June.
Paperbark Trail – This easy 15-minute walk on stepping stones and boardwalks through towering paperbark trees, vines, ferns and butterflies is straight out of a fairy-tale. Opposite the entry to Springs Beach.
Red Rock Walk – A 6 km return walk that starts from Springs Beach and takes 3-4 hours to return. Deserted sandy beaches, with ours being the only footprints, blue oceans, bays and rock pools rocky headlands and views of the Pacific Ocean make this a pretty walk. Take plenty of water and perhaps even a picnic lunch. Turtles nest along the sand dunes here during turtle season.
Agnes Water to 1770 – A 6 km walking and bicycle track that follows Captain Cook Drive and connects Agnes Water and 1770.
Agnes Water Beach – Look for shells and driftwood on the 6 km sandy beach walk during the outgoing tide.
Sunrise and Sunsets
Bustard Bay – One of the few places in Queensland where the sun sets over the water.
1770 Beach – The boats in the marina make for a stunning view at sunset and a great place to enjoy cold drinks from the Tree Hotel across the road. The best view is down past the 1770 Campground further down the beach.
1770 Headlands Lookout – Stunning views on Captain Cook Drive and a great place for sunrise.
Agnes Water Beach – Wake up early and watch the sunrise over the ocean.
Middle Rocks – Deepwater National Park – Spectacular sunrise with silhouettes of the rocks.
Eurimbula Creek – Eurimbula Creek campground – Sit on the beach and watch technicolour sunrises and sunsets from here.
Red Rock walk – If starting the walk early the sunrise along here is well worth the early wake-up.
Kangaroo Sanctuary in Agnes Water
Horizons Kangaroo Sanctuary is a sanctuary that cares for and rehabilitates orphan baby kangaroos. Here you get close to the kangaroos and help support their rescue. The free-roaming kangaroos slowly return to the wild when ready. Admission is $10 per person and this gives you two hours to spend with kangaroos. Visiting hours 3 pm to 5 pm. You also can camp here amongst the kangaroos.
The National Parks
Deepwater National Park – Famous for coastal emus the park’s fauna is made up of paperbark forests, banksias, wattles, Moreton Bay ash and pink bloodwood. Flat Rocks, Middle Rocks and Wreck Rock have stunning isolated beaches with a bush setting. Nesting turtles lay their eggs on the sand dunes between November to March and hatchlings emerge mid-January to late March. Orange-eyed Tawny frogmouths, a family of ringtail possums, a melomy, an echidna and kangaroos are some of the local wildlife we meet here. A 4-wheel drive is necessary, but a 2-wheel drive is sufficient if coming from the south and going to Wreck Rock only.
Eurimbula National Park – Many bird and mammal species call the mango-fringed estuaries, paperbark swamps and eucalyptus here home. Stunning views, secluded beaches, beautiful sunsets and you can see the lights of 1770 at night while camping. We see kangaroos, turtles in the sea and white-bellied sea eagles. Some of these beaches are also important nesting sites for endangered turtles. A 4WD is necessary for the roads in the park.
Joseph Banks Conservation Park – The rocky headland juts into the sea and is considered the first landing place of Captain Cook. Stunning views of Eurimbula National Park, the 1771 Headlands and Round Hill lookouts greet you from here.
From bush to beach camping, there’s something for all campers. Get back to nature in a bush setting, camp on absolute beachfront, camp with kangaroos or even take your dog on a camping adventure.
Horizons Kangaroo Sanctuary – What could be better than waking up in your tent watching the sunrise and surrounded by baby kangaroos? Once the day visitors leave, campers have the kangaroos to themselves and can help feed the tiny ones their milk bottles. The sanctuary sits on a hill with great views of Agnes Water and the amenities are new and clean. This special experience is $25 per night for two people for an unpowered site and $30 for a powered site.
1770 Campground – Absolute beachfront camping right on 1770 beach with just a few steps out on the white sand to the sheltered blue sea. Try and book A27 as it is right at the end and almost in the water! Camping needs to be booked in advance and this gets crowded during the holiday season.
Workmans Beach Campsite – Amongst shady trees in bushland reserve about 1 km from Agnes Water. It’s only a short stroll to the beach and walking distance to town. Facilities include water, toilets, picnic tables, cold water beach showers and free gas BBQs. The camp is dog-friendly if kept on a lead. The camp is located off Springs Road and there are 200 metres of dirt road to reach the camp. It’s a council-run campsite and about $9 day per person. No bookings are required just turn up.
Middle Rocks Camp – Real bush camping, set in natural bush with picnic tables and fires allowed in rings. A back-to-nature experience and you will more than likely have this all to yourself. Because the camp is set up behind the sand dunes it can get stifling hot in summer, but if you can put up with the heat, it’s the perfect place to see turtles on the beach. It’s a really beautiful place to camp in winter, especially as fires are allowed.
Wreck Rock Camp– This campsite has toilets, cold-water outdoor showers and picnic tables. The camp can fill up quickly during the holidays so book in advance.
Eurimbula Creek – A shady campsite in the forest behind the clear waters of Bustard Beach. Facilities comprise of toilets, water, fire rings and picnic tables. There is a large rainwater tank here, but it’s best to bring your own water just in case.
Middle Creek– This picturesque and secluded camping on the banks of Middle Creek is rustic camping with only composting toilets and fire rings. When the tide comes up the water is only a few metres from the campsites.
Our Favourite Cafes
The nightlife is quiet in Agnes Water and 1770, and with a lot of self-contained accommodation, it suits to eat in. We ate at a couple of places during the day and stayed in at night especially as our beach shack is very cute and cosy.
1770 Marina Café – A little place in 1770 with lots of healthy, freshly made food, vegetarian options and friendly staff. The coffee is the best in 1770 and the mango and berry smoothies are to die for! We have a delicious breakfast here and eat it at their sandbar overlooking the marina.
Holidays Café – Great food, a casual setting and a great location with views of Agnes Water Beach. There’s not a lot of choice on the menu, but what they do have is nice. We share a vegetarian burger and caramel thick shakes.
We stayed at 1770 Beach Shacks right across the beach in 1770 with gorgeous views. The shacks have an open tropical style with polished timber floors, timber French doors and push-out windows. All this with the beautiful finishing touch of fresh hibiscus flowers placed around the room. We loved sitting on the balcony having a BBQ and watching the sunset.
Both Agnes Water and 1770 have a variety of accommodation to suit every taste from budget to five stars. Friends of ours enjoy their stay at Mango Tree Hotel in Anges Water. The hotel is in an ideal location, moderately priced, only 100 metres walk to the beach and close to other amenities. The air conditioners in the rooms are blissfully cold for those hot and humid days.
Lazy Lizard Surf School – The warm waters of Agnes offer a number of surf breaks to suit beginners and experienced so is a great place to learn to surf. They take the class to Springs Beach, a beautiful remote beach. The classes are small with male and female coaches.
1770 SUP Hire – Owned by Chris de Aboitiz who is a tandem world champion surfer and a well-known character for paddle boarding with his adorable dogs. Enjoy stand-up paddleboarding in the stunning coastline of Agnes Water and 1770. The 1770 waters are perfect and safe for learning paddle boarding. Learn to paddle board and tours including a sunset tour and paddle board hire available here.
1770 Liquid Adventure – A choice of guided kayak tours such as sunset explorer and family tours around the headland and nature reserve that often see dolphins, turtles and other wildlife. Hire a canoe to explore on your own and perhaps take a picnic to one of the sandbars.
LARC Tour – A bright pink LARK (a repurposed amphibious military vehicle) for a full day of exploring the Discover Coast including lunch and sunset.
Bicycle Hire – With everything in a small area exploring Agnes Water and 1770 by bicycle is an ideal way to see all the sights and keep fit.
Discover 1770 – Can help arrange trips to the islands of the Southern Barrier Reef – Lady Musgrave, Lady Elliot, Heron and Great Keppel Island.
If travelling along the coast, Agnes Water and 1770 are great spots to stop for a few days, especially if you love beaches, surfing and camping. The sub-tropical climate and the laid-back atmosphere add to the holiday vibe but without the crowds.