Tucked away on the coast of Central Queensland, the small neighbouring towns of Agnes Water and 1770 often go missing from the bucket lists of travellers. They have managed to fly under the radar and maintain a small-town feel in a prime coastal location, without attracting the usual hoards of tourists visiting the Great Barrier Reef region. With somewhat of a nineties Noosa feel, the towns offer a myriad of adventure options or the chance to relax in pristine surroundings. Perfect for families and backpackers alike, Agnes Water and 1770 are the ideal location for those looking to escape the typical Queensland destinations to explore a timeless seaside gem. Here are six of my top reasons to visit.

1. The Reef

For reef lovers, the Great Barrier Reef’s Lady Musgrave Island sits an easy ninety minute boat ride off the coast, with tours travelling from 1770 to the pristine coral cay every day. The island has escaped development, with just a few campsites and the disused lighthouse as signs of any human contact at all.

Visiting the island in the middle of winter, we were worried that the water temperatures would be uncomfortably cool, given the island’s Southern position on the reef, but were pleasantly surprised. Most tour operators offer wetsuits free of charge, but we never felt the need to use them, spending over an hour in the water at times. The upside of slightly cooler water temperatures is usually also clearer water and abundant marine life – and this was definitely the case.

Agnes Water and 1770’s close proximity to the reef and Lady Musgrave Island is reason enough to switch tabs right now and start planning your next getaway.

2. The Coastline

For those seeking escape in a stunning locale, the coastal area encompassing Agnes Water & 1770 has you covered. Around 300 kilometres of pristine coastline stretches between Gladstone and Bundaberg, the two biggest towns of the region, providing ample opportunity to discover your own slice of sand. From secluded surfing spots to virtually untouched beaches perfect for four wheel driving, Agnes Water and 1770 is the perfect base to explore the Gladstone region.

The unmissable 1770 LARC tours that operate out of 1770 have been running for over 24 years and have become a must-do experience for visitors to the area. The full day tours venture North up the coast to Bustard Head Lighthouse, passing through some of the area’s most untouched landscapes with views of the coastline that will leave you breathless. 

3. The Adventure

​More than just a spot for nature lovers, Agnes Water & 1770 offers plenty of appeal to those seeking a little more adrenaline. From sand-boarding down the dunes of Middle Island, to diving the Great Barrier Reef or searching for the perfect wave to surf, the area has enough on offer to entertain and exhilarate visitors for weeks.

One of the tours that we didn’t get a chance to join (and will be our first stop when we come back!) is the sunset kayak tour by 1770 Liquid Adventures, offering the chance to get up close with dolphins, try out kayak surfing and wonder at the sun setting over the 1770 conservation reserve from the water.

4. The Nature Walks

Walking tracks abound in Agnes Water & 1770, from forest strolls to coastal hikes, there’s something for everyone. One walk that every visitor absolutely needs to experience is the Paperbark Forest Boardwalk circuit, located just a couple of minutes out of town. Stepping off the highway into this enchanted forest can feel like you’ve entered a fairytale, with golden sunlight filtering through the treetops and butterflies filling the forest surrounding the track. The circuit only takes five minutes to complete, although you may find yourself repeating it two, three or even four times to take it all in.


5. The Wildlife

Agnes Water and 1770 are a natural haven for Australian wildlife and thriving with local animal species. There is a butterfly walk for those dreaming of a fairytale encounter and Horizons Kangaroo Sanctuary where travellers can wake up surrounded by curious joeys. Deepwater National Park 15km South of Agnes Water is the second largest nesting site in Australia for loggerhead turtles, and the Southern Great Barrier Reef, home to hundreds of species of tropical fish, turtles, sharks and manta rays, sits waiting just off-shore.


6. The Hidden Beaches

Agnes Water and 1770 sit fairly isolated on the Gladstone coastline with plenty of empty beaches to be explored just out of town. If you find you’ve hit all the major attractions and are craving something off the beaten track, consider heading to Chinaman’s or Springs Beach for a relaxing day in total seclusion. 


Words, photos & video by travel photographer James Vodicka.