The Old Station – Agnes Water – Town of 1770
In October 2020 we flew back to a couple of our favourite spots – The Old Station, west of Gladstone and Agnes Water/Town of 1770, on the coast north of Bundaberg. This time we took Ann and Harpur with us to share the delights of these two wonderful spots with them. Day 1 took us up to central Queensland, starting with a flight along the coast past Noosa and Double Island Point then across to Maryborough for lunch.
The Portside Cafe came recommended and was great. Bit of Mexican influence.
We had a walk along the river after lunch admiring the old buildings and noting how high the Mary River has flooded over the years.
Then it was back to the airport and we took off for the Old Station.
The cattle station has a 2km long grass airstrip but there’s always the possibility of livestock so we had a good look as we overflew it to see if we could spot any. It looked clear so we turned downwind and then base and then final. Suddenly a herd of cattle appeared from nowhere and started sauntering across the runway, about 500m from the threshold. So it was time to practise a go around. I applied full power, and we climbed back out to 1000ft for a second circuit. By the time we were on final for the second attempt the herd had cleared off into the trees so it was all clear and we landed smoothly. Ron and Helen Creed met us and we moved into our accommodation directly next to the aircraft, meeting Ron and Helen for a cuppa and some home made muffins shortly after.
While we were sitting there a helicopter with a second group of four visitors arrived from Archerfield.
Dinner was in the big hangar space they use for weddings, conferences, tour groups and other functions. Lots of aviation stories were shared as we enjoyed Helen’s cooking and a selection of wines.
Suitably nourished we walked back to our lodgings under the starry starry night sky. It really is a great spot.
The next day it was time to explore property. The Creed family have lived there for 5 generations. Ron and Helen, along with Ron’s brother Andrew and his wife Nancy now own about 42,000 acres stretching out west to the Great Dividing Range. They currently have about 3,000 cattle and are aiming to grow the stock numbers to 5,500 over the next few years.
Nancy drove us to their house, at Langmorn Station about 5 km west of Old Station, for a look around their historical homestead and to meet some of the pups, guinea fowl and kangaroos. Langmorn homestead is like an antique shop. The wooden rocking horses were made by one of the family members.
After a cup of tea and some home made cake Nancy took us for a long drive around the property so she could check on the cattle and the water levels in the dams. Most of the cattle are Brahman, favoured as they’re resistant to ticks, but some of the land is agisted to Ron’s Uncle John who has Brahman crossed with Hereford.
Arriving back at the Old Station it was time for a late lunch prepared by Helen who is best described as a human dynamo.
There was time to relax on the porch in the afternoon and then go for a walk to enjoy the views of the Great Dividing Range.
At dinner we were joined by Kiwi, who also lives on the property but works as a aviation mechanic in Gladstone. He owns a Cessna 185 and a Cessna 150 and does aerial photography as a sideline. Helen cooked up another great meal. Two days later she had to cook for 280 guests as a car rally was passing through and the participants would camp there overnight. The day after that she had a wedding for about 70 people starting at 3pm and her son’s school graduation in the morning. It was a busy week. Their hospitality business was closed for weddings and other events during the height of Covid so people were starting to book extra slots, including during the week, to catch up.
One of Helen’s breakfast feasts started the next day and was followed by us boarding our 9am flight to Agnes Water.
First though was a recce over the Creed estates. Taking off on RWY 06 we turned and climbed out to the west over Old Station then flew at 3000 ft over Langmorn, Uncle John’s and Priory Park, their latest addition, then turned east and passed a marble quarry and Old Station at 3500ft.
From there it was south of Gladstone to Boyne Island with its red mud dams and aluminium smelter. The red mud is the tailings from the alumina refinery at Gladstone.
Following the coast we passed Turkey Creek and soon descended into Agnes Water/Town of 1770.
After a 500ft overfly to check for kangaroos we descended past the Town of 1770 to the grass runway and pulled into the parking area. With the plane tied down, a quick ride in the Agnes Water shuttle bus brought us to Agnes Central where the Mango Tree Motel’s apartment was ready and waiting.
It was high time for a coffee at the Holidays Cafe with a marvellous view over the main beach area. The cafe is part of the caravan park but, unlike many such establishments attached to caravan parks, is really excellent.
A swim followed and then a long walk along the beach.
The day pretty much just disappeared after that…until we had predinner drinks (BYO from the local bottle-o) with a view over the water.
The evening meal was enjoyed at Codies Place, directly downstairs from our apartment. Casual and a great view to the beachside park.
The next day was a chance to explore Agnes Water and 1770 including a visit to the museum and a ride on the LARC (Lighter Amphibian Replenish Cargo). We splashed into the water of the bay and travelled up the coast a bit, then emerged onto a sandbank where the Dutch lady driver explained some of the natural wonders to us. It was then time for a “splashdown” where she drove at full speed off the edge of the sandbank creating a wave that sort of splashed us all and cooled us all down for the return trip to the harbour. The LARC is a bit of a lark and worth a trip out on if you’re in town.
That was followed by a walk along the beach past downtown 1770 and on through the Sir Joseph Banks Conservation Park up to Round Hill Head. By the time we returned is was well and truly beer o’clock and a drink was enjoyed on the deck of the 1770 Hotel as the sun sank in the west over Bustard Bay. There’s not that many west facing beaches in Queensland and 1770 has one of them so you can enjoy the sunset over the water.
Captain Cook and Joseph Banks came ashore at 1770 on May 24 1770, hence the name of the settlement. They shot a bustard and had it for dinner that night. Cook wrote in his journal that “it was the finest bird we had eaten since leaving England”. So the obvious question is why isn’t there a bustard business promoting native poultry here these days?
The following day was a chance to relax at Agnes Water, including morning swims. Harpur and I tried out a couple of Piaggio scooters around town. One was a 50cc with top speed of 60km/h and the other an MP3 250 three wheeler that went faster. I’d wanted to try one of those for a while and it was good. Stef, the owner of Kanga Scooter Hire was very efficient and friendly.
We also identified some cabins next to the cafe where we’ll try to stay on our next visit. They are directly on the beach with views to the beach and operated by the caravan park.
The next morning it was time to head home. The shuttle bus dropped us off at the airstrip where we met Les “Woody” Woodall, the airstrip manager. After a bit of a chat about plane crashes and the wonders of bureaucracy we headed off, rolling down RWY32 and practising a soft field takeoff then climbing out past 1770. Turning around the end of Round Hill Head we followed the coast to Bundy for refuelling.
Lack of operating cafe facilities at the terminal meant we were soon up in the air once more heading for the coast.
It was a spectacular panorama under clear blue skies as we passed Woodgate, Burrum Heads, and on to Hervey Bay then crossed to Fraser Island.
Lake McKenzie glistened clear blue and at Eurong we started tracking along the beach, passing Inskip Point, Rainbow Beach and Double Island Point, a giant car park full of four wheel drives. Soon we were being waved through Sunshine Coast controlled airspace where we had to descend from 2500ft to 1500 ft to avoid skydivers at Currimundi (not sure how being 1000ft lower avoided a conflict) and on around Bribie to Redcliffe. Another smooth landing capped off a great trip.