Situated on Australia’s Queensland coast, Agnes Water is a tiny surf town with a great reputation.
As the country’s most northerly surf beach, this place revolves around the sun, sea, sand … and the waves.
Just south of the Great Barrier Reef and the start of the Tropic of Capricorn, Agnes (as it’s fondly known) enjoys wonderful year-round temperatures, which are perfect for enjoying the glorious natural environment of the area, both on land and in the water.
Whilst Agnes is on the tourist radar, it’s rarely jammed packed with tourists.
Those most likely to come here are surfers, backpackers or caravaners.
As such, Agnes is ideal for budget travellers, with lots of accommodation and free activities provided for them.
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Why Visit Agnes?
You should think about making Agnes part of your Australian itinerary simply because it is so beautiful.
With great beaches and surrounding national parks, it’s a stunning place to enjoy walking, swimming or just swinging in a hammock for a few days.
Forget really partying or seeing the sights here, Agnes is all about winding down, in fact, there seems to be a joke around town about ‘Agnes time’ being a little more relaxed compared to other places!
The small town sits only metres away from the beach and here, life really does seem to revolve around simple pleasures.
The tight-knit community of locals makes it a very safe, friendly and welcoming destination.
I really think Agnes Waters is one of my favourite spots along the whole east coast of Australia!
Where Are Agnes Waters and 1770?
Agnes Waters is very small and situated right at the end of a road, that until a decade or so ago, was little more than an unsealed dirt track to the beach!
The turnoff to Agnes from Queensland’s Bruce Highway is south of the city of Gladstone and driving from here will take you around 90 minutes.
To the south, the city of Bundaberg is about an hour and a half drive away.
As you might have guessed, driving to Agnes really is the best way to get here (vehicles can be hired in with Brisbane, Gladstone or Bundaberg).
That said, the Greyhound Bus certainly stops daily on its route between Cairns and Brisbane if you’re looking to use public transport.
Hitching from the highway turnoff, down the 55km road into town is also possible.
Just up the road from Agnes Waters is the even smaller hamlet of 1770.
This strangely named place is famous for being the first place the English explorer, Captain Cook first set foot on Queensland soil in, you guessed it, the year 1770!
1770 sits right at the end of the headland and can be reached either by a 5 minute drive from Agnes or hitching!
There is a marina here, a campground and a few eateries, but the majority of amenities and facilities are located within Agnes.
Although small, we found plenty to do in the 2 towns and had a job to fit it all into 3 days.
If I visited the area again, I would definitely allow 5-6 days to see everything.
When to Go
If you want to enjoy the best of Agnes Waters, then it’s probably best to visit during the summer season of October – March, this is when the temperatures, both in and out of the water, are best.
Do be aware however, that school holiday periods within this time are likely to be very busy here and that you’ll probably need to book accommodation in advance.
The other thing to note is that between the months of October – May, there is the chance of you encountering stinging jellyfish, which populate the waters here and can be very dangerous.
Outside of this time, the other great time to visit Agnes Waters is during the 1770 festival in May.
This weekend-long celebration marks the date when Captain Cook first set foot on Queensland soil and is the biggest event in the town’s calendar!
We visited Agnes Water during April and it was a great time of year to visit – the sea was lovely and warm and the beach was a dream! It wasn’t too hot for a hike either, which we enjoyed.
Where to Stay
As I said before, Agnes Waters is a dream destination for budget travellers, with many cheap accommodation options available.
There are no less than 4 hostels situated throughout the area.
1770 Southern Cross Backpackers is located on the road into town, furthest from the beach.
Cool Bananas is a short walk from the centre of town and the main beach near the library.
Backpackers @ 1770 is right in middle of town just minutes walk from shops and the beach.
1770 Beachside Backpackers is just a few metres out towards 1770.
There are also a number of great campgrounds in the area.
Agnes Water Caravan Park is right on the beach – best spot in town (but most expensive too!) 1770 Caravan Park is situated along the creek at 1770, perfect for keen fishers and water sports fans. Captain Cook Holiday Village is on the road between Agnes and 1770 – providing the best of both worlds.
There is also the rather wonderful Workman’s Beach Camp Ground, where we stayed.
This gem is just out of town, but right on the cliff, with an easy path down to small bay not a 5 minute walk away. The town can also be reached by a walking track in about 15 minutes.
Workman’s Beach is a campsite run by the local council and costs only $7 per/person per/night – that’s a real bargain compared to the private caravan parks in the area.
The campground is quite simple, with allocated bush camping sites, but there are flush toilets, potable water and an awesome outdoor shower available. We loved the rustic feel of the place and the quiet, natural surrounds of the area.
Unfortunately, you can’t book this campsite, but just have to turn up and hope for a space. Check out is 2pm, but we turned up early morning and managed to bag one of the precious spots.
Council officers come round every morning about 7am to collect camping fees and we paid for 3 days in advance.
Would definitely recommend this as a great budget place to camp in Agnes.
Free Things to Do
The beach is a large part of life here, so whether you’re into walking, sunbaking, swimming or surfing, heading down to spend some time on one or more of the area’s beaches is a must.
Main Beach is the central town beach at Agnes which has lifeguards and a patrolled swimming area.
This is really great for families, as rips and currents in the waters here can be quite strong.
For a more peaceful beach, head north along the beach towards 1770 – further up here you’re likely to have the sand and sea all to yourself.
The small bays of Workman’s and Chinaman’s, just south of Main Beach, are also quiet little coves where you can also enjoy some secluded time.
1770 is also one of only 4 places on the east coast of Australia where you can watch the sunset, as well as rise, over the water.
Join the locals and head down to the 1770 Marina with your sundowners to relish this spectacle.
Fishing is also popular in the area and there is a free Skate Park on Springs Road for those interested.
Nearby, the Agnes Waters Museum ($3 entry) has a ton of info about the history of the area and the landing of Captain Cook and is well worth checking out.
There is also some great walking to be enjoyed in the area of Agnes, with lots of information and maps available from the excellent Visitor Information Centre near the library on Springs Road.
Sadly, due to not allowing enough time for this beautiful destination, we didn’t manage to do all the walks we wanted, but these were the highlights.
- Discovery Trail: From the Agnes Waters Visitor Information Centre, take a short stroll through bushland to a stunning lookout point on the headland above Main Beach. Enjoy ocean views as well as a clear vista up and down the coastline.
- Beach Walk: On our 2nd day we walked all the way from Workman’s Camp Ground to Agnes Waters Main Beach up to the headland at 1770 – a distance of 8km. From here, we clambered up the headland to the Joseph Banks Conservation Park, before joining the coastal track back down to the 1770 township. On the way, we passed Cooks Monument – a landmark that is supposed to mark the exact place Captain Cook stepped ashore in 1770. The views along this walk were gorgeous, especially the lookouts at the Joseph Banks Conservation Park. The best time to complete this walk is during low tide – to ensure you can make it to the headland – and after a picnic lunch in 1770, we then easily hitched our way back to Agnes.
- Red Rock Walking Trail: Had we another day up our sleeve, then the hike to Red Rocks would definitely have been on our hit list. This coastal trail heads south from town, starting about 2.5km past the library on Springs Road. Enjoy the boardwalk route that passes quiet coves and gorgeous lookout, taking you to the edge of Deepwater National Park. This walk will take you about 2-2.5 hours return.
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#1 Good Camera – You will be pretty much snapping non-stop in Australia and will need a good camera to do this gorgeous country justice. I highly recommend the Sony A6000, which I use for all my travels and love, not least because it’s light, compact and robust!
#2 Good Walking Shoes – There will be a lot of walking in Australia – from cities to national parks! Make sure your feet are comfortable therefore with a pair of New Balance Trainers. Perfect for stylish strolling, I love mine.
#3 Good Guidebook – I’m still a massive fan of the Lonely Planet Guidebooks and do think their Australia edition is well put together.
#4 Good Water Bottle – Travelling in hot old Australia can be thirsty work, so make sure you have a metal water bottle that you can refill as you go, because tap water is drinkable… and free!
#5 Good Sun Hat – And there’s no denying you’ll need a good sun hat for protection in Australia too. In my opinion you can’t go past this Hello Sunshine one, which is both gorgeous and ideal for keeping the rays off your face.
There are 2 National Parks near Agnes Waters – one to the north and one to the south. This may give you some idea about the quality of the natural surrounds of this area.
- Deepwater National Park to the south is generally only accessible by 4wd, but offers those who make the journey wonderful camping at either Middle Rock or Wreck Rock Campgrounds and some great walking opportunities in one of the last undisturbed coastal freshwater ecosystems in Queensland.
- Eurimbula National Park is to the north of Agnes Waters and is accessed by turning off Round Hill Road which connects the town with the highway. Again, only accessible by 4wd, the diversity of different vegetation in the area is quite astounding, with coastal mangrove swamps, sitting alongside eucalyptus forests, rainforest pine trees and freshwater paperbark swamps. 2 campsites and some great lookouts are all contained within Eurimbula.
Bookings to camp to in either national park must be made in advance through Queensland National Parks.
Ocean fishing is a big activity here and there are also lots of water sports to enjoy including stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking. Most of the companies offering these activities are based around 1770, where the Round Hill Creek makes for calmer waters and a more enjoyable time.
If you’re looking to head on a tour, then the Larc – a vessel which can both drive on land and sail on water – will take you out to Bustard Head Lighthouse and on sandboarding excursions.
Alternatively, and for something a bit different, Scooteroo, will take you on a sunset tour around the area on the back of a chopper.
Daily trips to Lady Musgrave Island (out in the Great Barrier Reef) are also available for those looking to snorkel or dive this famous stretch of coral reef.
Best for budget travellers however, is probably the Agnes’ Reef 2 Beach Surf School. These fully accredited guys operate out of Main Beach and offer the cheapest surf lessons on the east coast of Australia – only $17.
If you are thinking of trying your hand at this famous Australian sport, then this is certainly the place to try it.
The Agnes Waters Visitor Information of Springs Road is very well equipped with lots of resources and helpful staff.
Next door, the library is also great – offering free wifi, computer use and a charging station 5.5 days a week.
In town there is a laundromat, a service station and 2 small supermarkets. There is a Bendigo Bank and several ATMs. A medical centre is also available for emergencies.
PIN IT TO PINTEREST!
So there you have it, the best budget travel guide to Agnes Waters.
Definitely make this place a stop on your Australian itinerary, you won’t regret it!