Camping was not a word in my vocabulary until I went to 1770.
“Me, camping? You must be kidding!” I say in shock to my editor when she tells me I’m off to the southern Great Barrier Reef at 1770 to sleep in a tent for two nights. “I’d rather eat my own eyeballs than shower in thongs and go to sleep with dirt between my toes,” such are my memories of childhood camping holidays around smoky campsites eating baked beans out of a can.
“It’s glamping” my editor insists, “a safari tent on stilts which has its own bathroom.” Hmm, don’t get me wrong, I know for some camping is the ultimate holiday, but personally I don’t call losing half your tent pegs, getting mozzie repellent in your sandwiches and being able to hear your neighbours snore, fun.
A few days later I found myself absolute beachfront, not a neighbour in sight, pleasantly eating a cheese platter by the light of a zillion twinkling stars and later I fell asleep in crisp white linen to the lullaby of the crashing waves on the seemingly deserted beach. And yes, I was in a tent. The Honeymoon Chalet of the Agnes Water Beach Caravan Park and it was heaven.
Historically this area is where Captain Cook first landed and so I thought it fitting to invite my best friend Nicole to be my glamping co-pilot. Her fifth great uncle was Captain Cook himself, nearly royalty to the area and yet sadly like many Australians she had never visited her spiritual home.
Standing at the stone monument of the first landing she gives me a brief history lesson. According to her, uncle James (Cook) sent the first fleet back here after he discovered it, they arrived, found it to be too barren to colonise, which made them think he was a bit of an idiot and they promptly jumped back on board and sailed on to Botany Bay. It might be a slightly more casual version of our history, but the fact remains that it was a total stroke of luck they didn’t stay, now the area has that special wild and untouched feel.
Travel for me is as much about the scenery as it is meeting the quirky local characters and you will find them in abundance in Agnes Waters and 1770. There’s Chris de Aboitiz from Stand Up Paddle Adventures who’ll make you a coconut leaf hat and help you to paddle peacefully around the pristine waters of the reef and Peter Dore, AKA Pistol Pete from Scooter Roo Tours.
“All I want you to do is be a bad ass biker today!” he yells at his novice biker gang, and off we zoom around the county roads for three hours spotting giant Roos, stopping to eat hot wedgies to warm our hands and then we rocket home by the light of the vibrant pink sunset.
And as I and his fifth great niece delightfully discovered, Captain Cook was far from an idiot, his landing point is one of the most beautiful places in Queensland.