How do you determine what makes your best of list?
We’ve seen and done some amazing things in Australia these past 9 months, it’s becoming my favourite country in the world to travel through.
Yes, believe it or not, my own country wasn’t before I started exploring it more deeply.
But, I am falling in love with the diversity and beauty it offers, not to mention a damn good lifestyle.
So how do you narrow it down to highlights?
I was thinking this as I was driving along Bustard Bay in the Town of 1770 in a bright pink LARC – an amphibious vehicle designed to transport goods in time of war.
We were stopping every few seconds to watch crabs scuttling in the water, pelicans flying into land and brown kites circling overhead on alert to catch their prey.
To get to this desolate curved stretch of beach in the Eurimbula National Park, we had to morph into a boat and chug along the Round Hill Creek, detouring the long way to avoid the soldier crabs marching up the sand bank at low tide.
It was just like it was over 200 years ago when Captain Cook discovered it. And the thousands of years before that when the Gooreng Gooreng Aboriginal tribe were the caretakers of the land.
We were on the Paradise tour and it was pretty much paradise.
Gosh with each new place I go in Australia, it becomes my favourite place. I don’t know how to judge this. I thought to myself. I’m really enjoying this tour. I think it would have to go in my top ten.
The only one way to explore this unique part of the Southern Great Barrier Reef region is by LARC, or your own off-trail vehicles – 4WD or boat.
Even then, the LARC can go where no other vehicle can and gives you the option of both land and water.
Neil Mergard, the founder of 1770 LARC! Tours was our skipper for the day and has been running these tours for 20 years.
His passion for the area has not died one bit and his knowledge of the area was amazing, as was his guide David, who was great at entertaining us all with his jokes and love for the bird life.
We stopped along the long stretch of beach to collect shells and stretch our legs.
Neil made the area come alive with his stories of Captain Cook’s arrival and the various families that travelled through this area and lived at the Bustard Head Lighthouse, Queensland’s first coastal lighthouse and the only operating lighthouse that the public can access. LARC tours give you this exclusive access.
When it switched to automatic control in the late 80’s the lighthouse keeper’s residences were trashed by vandals.
A previous light house keeper, Stuart Buchanon upon visiting several years later was devastated at what he saw and made it his mission to restore it to its former glory.
After years of hard work, his vision, and former home, returned to its glory. We were shown through the museum and lighthouse, learning its history and restoration project by volunteer guides who work with the LARC and spend 6 weeks at a time living at the lighthouse to keep it.
It’s not a bad job.
Getting to the lighthouse was an adventure in itself, as we drove up a steep and bumpy track only accessible by the LARC. We could sure use this vehicle ourselves on some other drives around Australia.
As we climbed the track the 360 degree views over Bustard Bay and Pancake Creek and the mountains behind were truly spectacular.
After our tour of the lighthouse we walked down to the cemetery and on the trip back down the headland, Neil told us all the stories of those buried in the graves.
We quickly discovered why it’s been named ‘The Lighthouse of Tragedy.’ If you read my post on the Ghost tour at Port Arthur, you know how I sat on the edge of my seat to hear these tales.
There was the mysterious death of Kate Gibson whose throat was slit from ear to ear. The coroner put it down as self-inflicted, but Neil’s sleuthing around has shown him that it is physically impossible for someone to kill themselves in this way. All fingers point to the alcoholic husband, Nils, who died not long after of cirrhosis of the liver.
There were many other deaths of those who lived at the light house caused by shipwrecks, drownings, an abduction, a murder, and several other freak deaths.
My favourite story was of the young lighthouse keeper’s daughter, Edith Anderson who went to work in the nearby Turkey Station and fell in love with a young man George Daniels. A family friend, and the son of a nearby cattle ranch owner, had it in his head that he was the one that would marry Kate. He convinced her family that he needed to rescue her from Daniel and he collected her from the station.
Daniels ambushed them, shooting him in the stomach and disappearing with Edith. Despite a massive search, they were never to be seen again.
After the story appeared on television, Neil had a call from a person claiming to be the great great grand daughter of the two and said theirs was truly a love story. They were hidden by the Aboriginal tribes for months until the search party for them was called doff and they lived happily ever after.
Aww. Such a lovely story that would be made into a Hollywood movie!
Across Jenny Lind Creek is a beautiful picnic area on the northern tip of Middle Island where we enjoyed a lunch of cold cut salad sandwiches, and an afternoon tea of lamingtons and billy tea – that’s tea brewed over a camp fire.
We were now ready for our afternoon of fun on the sand dunes of Middle Island. Who would have known hidden behind the coastal scrub were 35m high sand boarding planes?
Because of the slight chill in the air and water, we opted out of skimming out across the water in a grand finale and instead stopped on the sand flat at the bottom of the hill.
It was wild fun.
Kalyra loved jumping on our backs to join us as we teared down the dunes. We couldn’t convince her to go down the highest part on her own, but she took on the smaller dunes, and enjoyed racing her daddy.
We were all sad to leave this place of mystery, fun, and serenity to drive back over the beach and four tidal creeks to return home.
But there was one last bit of fun for the kids as Neil allowed them to play skipper and drive the LARC back up the beach, dodging the incoming tide.
And to welcome us back to the Town of 1770, we had this magnificent sunset. A paradise end to a paradise day.
- Location – The Town of 1770 is in the Southern Great Barrier Reef region of Queensland, a 6 hour drive north of Brisbane
- Tours – We were on the LARC Paradise Tour which is an all day tour including morning tea and a picnic lunch. Adults $155, children (5-16yrs) $95, under 5yrs free. For full details visit their website at: 1770LarcTours.com.au
- TripAdvisor – Read what other travellers have to say here.
- Disclaimer – Our tour was in partnership with Tourism Queensland.