About six hours drive north of Brisbane are the twin towns of Agnes Water and Seventeen Seventy (also known as The Town of 1770). These towns are only five minutes apart and are known for their amazing beaches, great fishing, and for being the closest access points to the Southern Great Barrier Reef.
If you enjoy peaceful, less developed destinations, both Agnes Water and Seventeen Seventy are ideal. They are not that close to the main highway between Brisbane and Cairns and therefore don’t get the same level of tourism and traffic as other places along the coast.
But although they are sleepy towns, they are far from boring. There is plenty to do around the area and even if you’re not big on relaxation, you’ll find something to keep you busy!
A bit of history…
Before we continue, let’s talk a little about history. 1770 is a weird name for a town, right? Well, of course, there’s a story behind it. The town of 1770 is named after the visit of Lieutenant James Cook in 1770. After landing in Botany Bay in April, Cook’s second stop in Australia was the Town of 1770. On Wednesday 24 May 1770, Lieutenant James Cook anchored his ship, the Endeavour, about 3 kilometres off this part of the coast, near Round Hill Head. So that’s where 1770 gets its name from.
How long to stay in the area?
We stayed three days in Agnes Water and although it was a good amount of time to see most of the sights, we would have happily stayed longer.
What to do in Agnes Water and Seventeen Seventy?
Watch the sunset in 1770
The little town of 1770 is one of only three places on the east coast of Australia where you can see the sun set over the water! So, while there, you’d be a fool to miss the sunset! Our favourite place to watch it was from the Marina. Get there early, grab one of the tables by the water, bring a picnic and a bottle of wine and enjoy! The food truck, Barraca by the Sea, also does great take away if you don’t want to bring a picnic.
Swim at Agnes Water Main Beach
The main beach of Agnes Water is a stunning 5-kilometre-long beach that is perfect for swimming. It has a patrolled area which makes it perfect for families. It’s also perfect for a long morning walk.
During peak times (such as over Easter when we visited), the beach is busy with holidaymakers. But, compared to some of our beaches on the Sunshine Coast, we found it still reasonably quiet. Also, because it’s such a large beach, it’s not hard to find a quiet spot to put down your towel.
Be sure to arrive early to find a car spot, or if you are staying in Agnes Water, it’s much easier to walk there.
Take the Paperbark Trail
Located a few minutes out of town, the Paperbark trail is a short but fun walk to do and an essential Instagram photo stop. The trail is only 400-metres long and includes stepping-stones and wooden walkways which wind through an enchanted forest of towering paperbark tea trees. Keep an eye out for beautiful butterflies, native birds, and other local wildlife.
Learn about the history of 1770 on the LARC
A LARC tour is a must do in 1770. The unique amphibious tours aboard their famous pink LARC’s are fun and a great way to explore beautiful, secluded beaches and visit remote National Parks.
You can choose from as short as a one-hour trip up to a full day excursion that takes you as far as Bustard Head and its lighthouse. We did the one-hour afternoon tour which was perfect for us. We learnt some of the history of 1770, thanks to our skipper Wyanda who made our tour informative and fun!
Take a day trip to Lady Musgrave
Since you are so close to the Southern Great Barrier Reef, take a 90-minute cruise out to Lady Musgrave Island with 1770 Reef. Once on the island, spend the day swimming and snorkelling in the crystal-clear water. You are pretty much guaranteed to see colourful fish and my favourites, the turtles.
Your day trip includes morning tea and lunch, as well as a guided tour of Lady Musgrave Island and all the snorkelling gear you’ll need. It also includes a glass-bottom boat tour and submarine tour.
1770 is the perfect spot to kayak. The local company Liquid Adventures hires single or double kayaks just a few metres from the marina. They also organise sunset kayaking trips nightly. We loved spending a couple of hours kayaking around the area. We stopped on the sandbanks and checked out all the soldier crabs that were running around like crazy on the sand. It was a lot of fun!
Watch the sunrise
1770 is famous for its sunsets but Agnes Water is the place to be for sunrise! The main beach of Agnes Water is the perfect spot to watch the sunrise and you will find a few people there every morning, camera in hand or walking up and down the beach. It’s worth getting up early for.
Take the Discovery Trail
The Discovery Trail is a quiet and easy trail that begins at the car park right behind the Agnes Water Museum. The Discovery Trail is a 1.5-kilometre trail which takes you through native bushland and leads to the Agnes Water Lookout. The lookout offers stunning panoramic views of Workmans Beach and Agnes Water’s Main Beach. The Discovery Trail is easy enough for the entire family. You can also take your canine friends.
Walk the 1770 Butterfly Walk
In 1770, you will find Captain Cook’s Monument. It’s located up the road from the 1770 Camping Grounds on Captain Cook Drive. From the monument you can take the Butterfly Walk. This trail winds through a beautiful forest and takes you along Round Hill Head to the 1770 Headlands with spectacular views overlooking Bustard Bay.
It’s called the Butterfly Walk because if you visit between March and June, the path will be alive with thousands of Blue Tiger Butterflies. The walk is easy and takes about an hour return. Once you reach the headlands be sure to explore the Headlands Lookout and enjoy more panoramic views of the ocean.
Once you are finished, follow the path down from the Captain Cook’s monument to the beach for a refreshing swim or for some relaxing time fishing.
Hike the Red Rock Trail and swim at Spring Beach
If you fancy a tougher hike with pristine deserted beaches and amazing coastal scenery, the Red Rock Trail is for you. This trail is not for everyone as it requires a reasonable level of fitness. There are steep inclines and a fair bit of walking on sand.
But, if you can manage that, it is worth it. The trail starts/ends at Spring Beach, which also happens to be the nicest beach in Agnes Water. It’s a good two hour walk, or more if you plan on stopping to enjoy some of the beaches on the way. Be sure to pack plenty of water, sunscreen, your swimming gear, and a hat as (there isn’t much shade). When you’re done with the hike, stop at Spring Beach for a well deserved swim!
Check out Chinamans Beach and Workman Beach
If you want to get away from the crowds, Chinamans Beach and Workman Beach are much quieter than the Main Beach of Agnes Water. They are right next to each other, and you can walk between them easily. These beaches are not patrolled which explains why they are quieter. So, if you are swimming there, be extra careful.
Have lunch at the 1770 Getaway Garden Café
This café is set in a peaceful and beautiful tropical garden setting. Just walking through the gardens to reach the café was an experience in itself! The Getaway Garden Cafe serves up delicious dishes prepared with fresh, local ingredients. They also make fresh juices, homemade kombucha, loose leaf tea and very good barista-made Campos coffees. There is a huge garden next to the cafe for children to run around in.
Have dinner at Drift&Wood Restaurant
For the best dinner in town, head to Drift&Wood restaurant nestled in Sandcastles 1770 Motel & Resort. This newly opened restaurant offers indoor or alfresco dining. The service is great, the atmosphere is lovely (especially if you have an outdoor table), and the food is so delicious that we ate there twice. On a Sunday afternoon, they even have live music. Book ahead as they do get busy.
Where to stay in Agnes Water?
NRMA Agnes Water Holiday Park
1770 Getaway Holiday Retreat is nestled amongst native tropical surroundings, just 800 metres from the shops and restaurants of Agnes Water’s town centre. The historic Town of 1770 is a 10-minute drive away. It’s a 5-minute walk to the beach. 1770 Getaway offers luxury air-conditioned villas with a modern fully equipped kitchen. Find out their latest prices here.
Sunrise at 1770 Holidays
Sunrise at 1770 Holidays is in Agnes Water. It offers luxurious holiday homes, some featuring amazing panoramic sea views. Sunrise at 1770 Holidays also includes a year-round outdoor pool. Find their latest prices here.
Backpackers @ 1770
Backpackers at 1770 is your best bet if traveling on a budget. This property is conveniently located, directly next to shops and a bus stop and is just a 5-minute walk from the beach.
All linen is provided free of charge, and all dormitory rooms offer ensuite bathrooms and private lockers. There is a free shuttle bus to and from the Greyhound bus stop. Find their latest prices here.
If none of those take your fancy you can use HotelsCombined to search across all major accommodation websites using the search box below