Monday, 4 October 2010

A Little Further North - Exploring 1770

Bustard Bay, 1770
A full day, bright sunshine, 26C and not a cloud to be seen were the parameters within which we explored the Town of 1770 today. Under such tough conditions, we persevered and succeed in having a fine day.

Our caravan park is located at 1770 itself, which is closer to the southern headland to Bustard Bay, known as Round Hill. The township is really two small villages - Agnes Waters and 1770 - separated by a couple of hundred metres of the Captain Cook Drive.

Our first calling point this morning was the short few kilometres to the end of Captain Cook Drive where the housing runs out and the national parks have established a new carpark and lookout. Ironically, the view from the carpark is probably better than from the lookout but both revealed a very pretty place. I can easily imagine why ex Tambar people, the Husseys, chose to come to 1770. Believe me, there is no comparison between Tambar and 1770 which would even remotely give the north western pimple on the backside of society the edge over this little jewel. Blue green seas, lovely beaches, green green green tropical vegetation.

Mind you, its clear that the 1770 we were looking at today has changed dramatically in the last ten years. Like coastal places right around Australia, especially those with such rich visual assets, the developers have moved in and resorts are festering the landscape. Its a shame, because the locals might reap some financial benefit but the reason why they lived here is gradually submerging under the imagination of architects and the filthy lucre of businessmen.

1770 marks the second landing on Australian soil by The Navigator, Lt James Cook. He anchored in the bay, made observations, allowed Banks and Solander to go ashore and catalogue the flora and fauna and even shoot a bustard which made the evening dinner table, most likely only for officers and gentlemen. Matthew Flinders visited thirty two years later in Investigator and mapped the area with great accuracy.

At the Agnes Waters end, Daniel Clowes operated on a lease which occupied 12 square miles, running cattle down as far as the current surf beach. His was the first lease taken up at Agnes Water and it was Clowes who named it, for his daughter Agnes. Clowes first wife, Rachel, died and was buried on the property in January, 1885. He gave her a substantial gravestone for the time. Clowes remarried but when he died in May of 1991, his instruction was to be buried beside Rachel. Perhaps this wasn't taken well by the second wife, as the graves, which remain today in the small park behind the surf beach, show Rachel's fine masonry headstone, standing all of five feet high and beside it, an unmarked, crude wooden cross. Hell hath no fury they say ...

As an indication of the pace of development here, the surf club was only formed in 1989, largely using discarded equipment from other club and worked out of an old shipping container. Recently it has opened a new licenced premises at 1770, whilst it original shed remains at the beach at Agnes Water, still serving the purpose of being an active station from which the club can assure the safety of swimmers.

After the lookout, we stopped in for coffee at The Tree, which was originally a corner shop and sly grog shop. It is now a completely rebuilt cafe and licenced premises, with decking reminiscent of the decks of a ship and everything furnished in oiled wood and corrugated iron. The coffee was good and we followed it with a walk along the foreshore development which has been done with great taste by the local council. Gardens and decking walkways and well appointed shelter sheds for family bbq's stretch along a lengthy piece of the foreshore.

Sunset, 1770
We drove back to the opposite end of the settlement and took some photos at the beach at Agnes Water. As this place has now become a must for backpackers, accents thick in German, French, English curried the air. We dined on greasy fish and chips - a mistake we would both pay a price for.

After lunch, the local museum proved very interesting. It had been started and build 70 years ago by Arthur Jeffery, whose brother the park on what had been Clowes land - behind the beach and where he held hands into eternity with his first wife - had been name after. Arthur was a man with a bent for history, particularly objects from history and hist original timber museum forms part of the current building complex. As is usual with local museum, it was a hotchpotch of items, some of them totally irrelevant but never the less interesting. The written histories - one of which we purchased - are however most intriguing and often reveal the skeletons which rattle in small town cupboards.

Considering the entry price ($3), this was extra good value.

Sue took to the surf on a secluded part of the beach because there is still a little bit of wild thing in her which must be encouraged lest her dotage contain regrets. I envy her freedom and sometime wish I might ignore Peter's Little Helpers and live with such freedom as earlier years gifted me. This is, of course, foolishness or desire or both, because on balance, my more measured life is both safer and more fulfilling. Just sometimes, such as she splashed about this afternoon, yearning visits again to test my resolve but I won't let down those that look to me for example - however sideways their glances. Love makes this constraint an easy one to comply with.

Our daylight hours finished with a swim in the saltwater pool at the caravan park and then a rapt
watching of the sunset over Bustard Bay - named by Cook to honour a delicious meal. Thank goodness the French weren't first to Australia. Can you imagine Cocq-a-vin Bay?

The sunset was red and purple and yellow and gorgeous. I'm sorry you missed but I'm glad you weren't here. That's Sue's job.

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