Agnes Water and Seventeen Seventy are two little side by side townships about 120km from Bundaberg and 480km from Brisbane.

Agnes Water is the “last decent surf beach” as you travel north through Queensland, as the Great Barrier reef flattens out the surf for all the grommets beyond this point. Seventeen Seventy sits on the peninsula where Round Hill Creek meets the Pacific Ocean. It is here that Captain Cook landed on the 24 May 1770, just his second landing after Botany Bay, marking the start of what became colonial Queensland. They ate some bush turkeys, found a fresh water spring, Joseph Banks collected botanical specimens.

Plaques and Cook related motifs abound in the township, though oddly we found no mention of the Traditional Owners in the main landmarks we visited.

It took a bit of googling and asking to work out we were camped on the country of the Gooreng Goorengpeoples (Gurang Gurang).

After a leisurely morning we went into Agnes Water (the campstore, for a “final” piece of gear) and then along the coastal road for a very pretty, short boardwalk through a paperbark grove. Native jasmine wrapped around the trunks of the paperbarks, which filtered the light from above, as butterflies flitted around us. There were scattered bursts of jagged pandanus and tall palms.

On the way back we happened past 1770 Distillery so veered of course to pop in and join a tasting session. John the owner had been distilling for over twenty years, having cut his teeth helping friends with whisky in Tasmania.  We yarned to him for a bit and were a bit taken aback at how bloody difficult it is to start a small business like his up here. In Tas, what might have taken months to license, took him 5 years, he had taxes that doubled overnight, local council by laws that prevented him working in collaboration with a local boutique brewer (using the malt ferment) to expand into whisky.

At 1770 he was using local fruit and botanicals to produce fragrant, sweet, largely fruit liquors. Star anise and cinnamon with citrus, bush lime and other flavours, and a strawberry one that would put a delighted shriek of colour and taste into any cheap bubbly.

We took home a bottle of Sunset. Doing our bit to help the local economy.

That afternoon we took a picnic (“picnic” = cheese + wine + crackers) down to the main strip at 1770. Maggie did yoga on a lush piece of grass while Rose schlepped across the low tide mud and sand flats of the creek. Sea birds kamikaze dived into the creek after schools of fish. Pelicans noodled around fishing children, pretending they weren’t eyeing off their bait. Boats bobbed in the deeper channels of the creek, except the one that had been abandoned and sunk, its mast spearing precariously out at 45 degree angle. The owner had skipped town and left the community trying to work out how the hell to get it out and who would pay for it.

Five minutes before sunset the beach filled up with people keen to watch a glorious sunset over the creek, the estuary extending out to the sea and mountains on the horizon.  Though they left soon after the sun’s disc had slipped below the horizon, and missed the next twenty minutes, where everything close became silhouetted as the entire skyline glowed with refracted light, and turned hues of burnt orange and crimson.

Not a bad backdrop for a soft cheese and a glass of bubbles.

We were two very happy, grateful birds.

Monday 30 July, camped on Gooreng Gooreng country.

To read more about Jane and Jen’s trip, check out their Magnetic Blog HERE

By Jane Holden

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