Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Occasionally there arrives a moral dilemma for me and this weblog. I'm in a place which is small, untouristy but which is easily the best place I have visited. Do I advertise it and add to the increased talk about this place or do I help to preserve its uniqueness with silence?

Predictably of course I choose to advertise. I realise of course that presenting my argument above only adds to the mystic but I choose to keep the paragraph for reasons of style and presentation. It is the tiny Town Of 1770 and its slightly less tiny neighbour Agnes Water that I find myself writing about here. These streets contain the most sought after real estate on the east coast. Ten years ago there was no tarmaced road here; developers came to build homes and some shops and they undoubtedly now preside over even larger bank account as a result. House prrices are high, although mid-price homes have gone down. Of course compared to London, houe costs are pathetically small, and the area fantastically more pleasant. A sprinkling of travellers are now finding themselves surrounded by a few hundred residents, a variety of beaches - most deserted, fields of kangaroos, a mainificent selection of the best bits of the Great Barrier Reef and staff intent on providing increasingly interesting times. Seven of the top ten reefs, according to Lonely Planet, are based here.
The place to stay is called Cool Bananas - you'll make plenty of friends here and you'll always have something to do. Agnes Water/1770 has a number of characters who are friendly and interesting, one is Rod who runs the Street Beat Scooter Co. If you come here, do say hello. Rod also runs the free 4x4 trip from Cool Bananas every morning at 11am where one will be escorted up dirt tracks, to empty beaches and to places of interest. Everyday is a new adventure and their seems to be an extra excitement about spending time in a place that is so young but seems to hold so much promise. "The next Noosa", "the next Byron Bay", are terms I've heard - but for me this is the first "Agnes Water". As it gains popularity I wonder how it will fare; as part of its attraction is it's cosiness. No wonder then that many of the people I have met here have stayed for far longer than they originally intended.

Yesterday I took a boat into the ocean to snorkel around Fitzroy Reef Lagoon....

Fitzroy Reef.

Our boat was the only one that operated at this huge reef - the second largest of its kind in the world, and licenses to see it are only granted to two boats, one of which operates elsewhere. We saw turtles, dolphins, thousands of fish, dolphins, and the best of all two huge humpback whales. They stopped the boat and they, being huge and incapable of being intimidated came to investigate us. A close pass and they were huge! Even the guides on the boat were amazed and jubilant.

Before all of these malarky I had been at Fraser Island - the biggest sand island in the world, containing fresh-water lakes, rain forests, cliffs, sand dunes, the clearest views of the southern sky I've seen and miles of beach. All in all: marvelous. Placed with a group of ten and given a 4x4 car, tents, food, various other camping equipment and a terse set of instructions we had a great time driving up beaches and up dirt tracks. Well actually two of us did, the others had to sit and say their prayers.

Lake Wabby, Fraser Island. The sand blow on the left presented a huge and magnificent playing field.

I was a bit concerned about driving what was tantamount to a van around challenging and treacherous conditions and a wall of accident photos in the nearby "Hotel" (or pub to the rest of the English speaking world) didn't help - but actually it was the proverbial piece of piss.

We had what was referred to by others in a different car "the good group." Damn straight.

We had the loudest stereo. But it's the people that always make it. Here are the websites for two of my group.....



Tibo's is in French, Stephan's in Dutch. Use Babel Fish at the bottom of the left hand bar to translate. Which will be exciting for you.

It was the tip of Fraser Island which Captain Cook sailed past and lost Australia. He had to turn east to rediscover it and he hit 1770 - hence it's odd name.

All in all then, quite a couple of weeks. Australia has gotten better and better.

Well done to it and all that.

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