Rather than staying in hostels every night you may want to have a bit of an Australian camping adventure while here.
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Agnes Water & The Town Of 1770 has been on our Travel ‘Bucket List’ for a long time, and we are glad we ticked off this gem of an area before it got overpopulated. As far as sleepy little beach towns go, 1770 off the Southern Great Barrier Reef is among the best. A quiet, charming pocket of beautiful beaches and swimming spots mixed with lively restaurants and cafes makes it an ideal place for a family vacation or an escape with loved ones. More than just a pretty face, 1770 (also known as Town of Seventeen Seventy) has an incredible history. The town is built on the site of the second landing by Captain Cook in May all the way back in, you guessed it, 1770! Each year the locals re-enact the historic landing as part of an annual festival held in May.
For a trip you will never forget, jump aboard the pink LARC – an amphibious craft that will take you for a ride across deserted sandy beaches and pristine estuaries. The ex-military Lighter Amphibious Resupply Cargo (LARC) vehicle makes a comfortable ride for exploring the natural joys of Bustard Head and Eurimbula National Park. This is Queensland’s only operating Lighthouse open to the public. The LARC is one of those big, hulking vehicles that can drive on land and go in water. It’s also a great way to see another side of 1770 and the local area if you don’t have a boat of your own.
The guides are incredibly knowledgeable and will show you places and animals you wouldn’t have seen otherwise, as well as share local history. The LARC is definitely worth doing and suitable for all ages.
You’ll hear the tales of tragedy and triumph as early white settlers and lighthouse keepers struggled to tame this remote wilderness. You will have a guided tour in the light keeper’s cottage, now a museum of artefacts and light station memorabilia. You will see some of the prolific wildlife that inhabits the area and you will gasp in awe at the spectacular panoramic view from the balcony of the historic Bustard Head Lighthouse.
And on the way home, you can experience the thrill of sand boarding down the towering dunes of Middle Island. The LARC’s (Lighter Amphibious Resupply Cargo Vessels) are named in honour of Sir Joseph Banks and Dr Daniel Carl Solander, the two eminent botanists who accompanied Lieutenant James Cook aboard the Endeavour on their voyage of discovery. Full day tour includes morning tea, lunch and an Aussie Billy tea.
Stunning views are always a rewarding part of hiking but views plus a refreshing swim under a cascading waterfall in a rock pool surrounded by rainforest is an even bigger incentive to lace up your walking shoes and head to Kondalilla National Park. For us it’s only 1-½ hours rive north of Brisbane near the picturesque village of Montville on the scenic Blackall Range.
From the car park at the end of Kondalilla Falls Road you head down a 50m downhill walk, with multiple stairs, that leads to the large grassy picnic area and the start of the walking tracks. With its lush surroundings, shade trees, barbecues, picnic tables and toilet facilities, the picnic area is a beautiful spot to refuel before or after your walk.
There are several walking tracks you can choice including a section of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk. The shortest walk is the Picnic Creek circuit at 1.7km. It’s a relatively easy walk suitable for children and takes around 45 minutes to complete. The track however is not wheelchair or pram accessible and there are many steps so smaller children will need to walk or be carried. The circuit crosses Picnic Creek with its little cascades and passes through tall open eucalypt forest with an interesting mix of rainforest species in the wetter areas. Along the journey children can search for elves and fairies in tree roots or try and spot faces in the tree trunks. There are beautiful views over the valley from the lookout point and bench seats are scattered along pathway so you can stop to rest and listen to the birds chatter and sing in the canopies above. If you are not continuing down to the falls but want to swim, you can take a small detour down the escarpment to the rock pool.
We love the Kondalilla Falls circuit which is 4.7 km and will take between 2-3 hours to complete. This walk includes more than 100 steps so it’s quite strenuous, particularly on the way back up! From the Picnic Creek circuit you follow the signs down the escarpment and continue past the rock pool onto the lookout with first views of Kondalilla Falls. From here you will walk through lush subtropical rainforest to the base of the waterfall and then continue back up the ridge to complete the loop. Another dip in the rock pool on the way back plus the cool breeze through the rainforest will help cool you down after climbing up the stairs!
Kondalilla National Park has an abundance of wildlife including over 100 species of birds, as well as a variety of reptiles and frogs with some species rare and close to extinction like the pouched frog and the bopple nut. With this in mind, it is important to protect our National Parks so be sure to take all your rubbish with you, keep the creeks clean and leave your pets at home. Insect repellent is a must as is taking your own drinking water and food. The best time to visit the falls is during the wet season, January – March, although the water still flows in the dry months and the park is open during daylight hours year round.