Agnus Water is a sleepy coastal town that is just south of the town Seventy Seventy (1770), the landing spot of Captain Cook’s second arrival in Australia. The area is often referred to as “Queensland’s best kept secret” due to the stunning beaches, unmarred nature, and relaxed vibes. Not to mention, the area is a gateway to The Great Barrier Reef, Lady Musgrave Island, and plenty of scuba, snorkeling, fishing and adventure activities.
Agnus Water and 1770 are often compared to coastal towns like Noosa, Byron Bay, and Moolooba, but without the traffic, resorts, hospitality venues, and mobs of tourists. The relatively remote location being the reason. It’s not an “on the way” spot nor is it an easy quick trip from Brisbane (477 km south) or even Noosa (377 km south).
While the internet bills 1770 as “the” spot to be, our 4 nights in Agnus Water proved otherwise. Agnus Water offers empty beaches, surfing, interesting hikes, and a library with fast internet (essential for vanlife!) without any of the pretentiousness the ritzier coastal towns often exude.
Each morning we pulled into the main beach parking lot at around 5:30am to make coffee and get ready for the day. Dozens of people from age 2-80 had us beat, greeting the sunrise with yoga, surfing, walks, and tai chi. It reminded me of a Noosa meets Hervey Bay meets Nimbin; stunning beaches with working class people and a zesty splash of hippie vibes.
Agnus Water is a place to simply relax and experience rather than tour and travel. However, I would recommend checking out a couple spots:
This short and sweet trail snakes through a paperback forest with lush greenery. There are butterflies everywhere, and the sun peeking through the trees casts a seemingly permanent magic hour.
2.Red Rock Trail
Across from the Paperbark trail is the entrance to Spring Beach as well as the Red Rock Trail. Spring Beach is beautiful in of itself, but if you think 1’s a crowd, the Red Rock Trail hugs the coast and takes you past cove beaches that are completely empty. The trail has a bit of up and down and is 3 km each way, and it was certainly a Agnus Water highlight.
3.Getaway Garden Café
Agnus Water doesn’t have too many dining options, but there are two groceries stores with reasonably priced food. We cooked all of our meals, but did make a stop at the Getaway Garden Café for a slice carrot cake and cheesecake so I could celebrate the ultimate feat; getting my taxes done. Ah, the joys of filing in three states with half my income being 1099…
The carrot cake had great spice levels with pistachios as well as walnuts while the Nutella cheesecake was thick, sweet, and creamy with a delectable mouth feel. The best part was the venue itself. It is tucked away in a jungle-type setting with a lovely lily pond and Bali vibes, making it great little spot to beat the heat.
The most fascinating part about our stay in Agnus Water was night three when we stayed at the Horizons Kangaroo Sanctuary.
The experience was destined to be weird from the moment Gary picked up the phone. We were calling to see if there were any powered sites available. He lackadaisically explained how the prior weekend was busy, but things had slowed down.
The conversation should have ended there. He went on to ask us questions about how we liked Agnus Water, where we were from, what the weather was like, so on and so forth. Each answer we gave was followed with an awkward pause before the next question came. Every “Well, that all sounds great, we are looking forward to it!” just lead to more conversation.
20 minutes later we figured we had successfully been booked.
24 hours later and we were rolling on up into Horizons Kangaroo Sanctuary. Within 100 meters I spotted 8 kangaroos off to the side. Excellent!
Gary met us at the top, and the image I had created in my head was spot on. Medium height, late 60s/early 70s, lean, sporting crocs. There was a big white bird on his shoulder. We shared the basic “who are you, where are you from, what do you do” sort of chat (although we had already had it on the phone). Every time I was talking, he was looking at Jeremy. Every time Jeremy was talking, he was looking at me. It was clear he disapproved of our respective pre-COVID professions; travel guide and performer.
Gary proceeded to give us a slow speech about how amazing the sanctuary was.
The highlighted points: there were no people, it was far far away from hectic city life, you could see the sunrise and sunset, no people, no traffic jams, you got the winds from all directions to cool down, no people, no cars… oh yeah…. Did I mention no people and out of the city? For someone making money off of people, he sure did seem to hate them.
We were the only campers there at the time, and we exchanged a “is this where we die?” sort of look. It was the perfect setting for a horror film, just with more kangaroos.
Speaking of kangaroos, Gary didn’t mention them once.
Gary indicated where our camp spot was and abruptly walked in the other direction. We plugged up the van and settled in. The amenities were like a home. There was small open aired kitchen with two gas burners, a microwave, plates, pots, pans, and a refrigerator along with two bathrooms and showers. We had read in online reviews that past campers didn’t love the lack of facilities at Horizon Kangaroo Sanctuary, and I imagine it would be annoying if all 15 or so sites were in use.
We wandered the property, watched the kangaroos, looked at the Peacocks and ate some dinner. Three more camper units joined us. All young travelers.
Dusk hit and we went out for a kangaroo walk. Gary appeared out of the shadows with the same bird glued to his shoulder, indicating to follow him. Behind the house there were 10 or so kangaroos noshing down on big buckets of straw. Or maybe grass? I’m not too sure. Then things got interesting.
It only took a few questions to get Gary chatty. He mentioned how kangaroos are practically disease free due to their healthy diet. “No one should EVER drink milk or eat yogurt.. that’s why humans are always sick!” And continued on explaining how the Australian government does nothing to protect the animals. Factory cow farms stuff 250,000 cows into small barns. Koalas are dying by the thousands as land is being cleared. Kangaroos are being freely shot for fun.
“Nowhere in the world treats it’s wildlife as poorly as Australia!”
I have done quite a bit of reading on Kangaroo culling quotas (check out Kangaroo: Friends or Food? for more!), so of course I couldn’t keep my big mouth shut. I asked for his thoughts on problems like over grazing and car accidents. All rubbish and baseless, of course.
I also have seen and read about how closely the Australian government monitors wildlife and protects it. Perhaps media has duped me again, or perhaps Gary lives in a blissful false reality where he gets to be the hero.
Another camper van pulled up. A woman yelled, “Gary, they’re here!” He scuttled off as we mulled over the interesting conversation while watching a couple roos box and a few others continue their dinner.
Conversations like this is why I love to travel.
Sites and landmarks are all well and good and make for nice photos, but experiences and people are what make for lasting memories. Watching (even petting!) kangaroos while listening to an opinionated man with a bird on his shoulder is something I won’t soon forget.
All in all, our 4 night stay in Agnus Water was the perfect blend of relaxation, adventure, and work-time. Certainly a Queensland hidden gem worth seeking out! But hurry, it may turn into the next Byron Bay…
In case you missed it, we are living in a van for 2 months traveling through Queensland! Click HERE for the details!