Agnes Water area pumping as tourists pour into region

 Reef 2 Beach surf shop owner Wayne 'Grom' Mellick says this Christmas season has seen plenty of visitors arrive in 1770/Agnes Water.
Reef 2 Beach surf shop owner Wayne 'Grom' Mellick says this Christmas season has seen plenty of visitors arrive in 1770/Agnes Water. Tom Huntley

TOURISM is the lifeblood of 1770/Agnes Water, bringing jobs and prosperity.

Two years ago, the regions had a disastrous Christmas period, and last Christmas brought mixed reports.

The Observer spoke to small businesses in the town about how this holiday season has gone so far.

Reef 2 Beach Surf Shop and Surf School

Wayne 'Grom' Mellick has been a busy man during the holidays.

"We had a very busy pre-Christmas period," he said. "After Christmas has been good too. The weather held out for us."

He said the increased traffic showed how busy the town had been.

The numbers in his surf lessons had also been strong.

When The Observer paid a visit to the Reef 2 Beach surf lesson on Sunday, the beach was pumping with beginners screaming for joy on their first waves.

Grom agreed that tourism in 1770/Agnes Water was the lifeblood of the town, providing jobs and prosperity.

On top of that, the Christmas period was when businesses need to cash in.

With that in mind, he said it was exciting to see such a positive vibe this tourist season.

Sandcastles 1770 Motel and Resort site manager Bernadette Grassby (left) and Laura Casserley have had a busy Christmas period as tourists flock to 1770/Agnes Water.
Sandcastles 1770 Motel and Resort site manager Bernadette Grassby (left) and Laura Casserley have had a busy Christmas period as tourists flock to 1770/Agnes Water. Tom Huntley

Sandcastles 1770 Motel and Resort
IT has been a busy Christmas for Sandcastles 1770.

Site manager Bernadette Grassby said the town had been on a high with loads of visitors arriving.

She said motel/resort had been fully booked since December 23. Although those number were not so different to last Christmas, Ms Grassby thought the town in general was busier this year.

"Because Queensland had such a bad year in 2010 (with the floods in the Christmas period), everybody has been clawing their way back," she said.

"I heard that spending was down before Christmas this year, but we have all these people here. I reckon people decided to save their money to go on a holiday instead (because it has been a tough few years)."

Ms Grassby said the atmosphere for local businesses in the bad Christmas seasons of 2010 and 2011 had been "dismal", but 1770/Agnes was now buzzing amidst a successful season.

"That flood year really hit hard," she said. "I know people who were struggling to feed their familes. But it's been fantastic this year.

She said February was a traditionally quiet time, meaning there were loads of great deals available.

1770 LARC Tours operates its famous amphibious boats around 1770/Agnes Water.
1770 LARC Tours operates its famous amphibious boats around 1770/Agnes Water. Contributed

1770 Environmental Tours
THE famous LARC amphibious vehicles have been flat out this holiday season.

"Passenger numbers throughout the school holidays have been steady and we are looking forward to this continuing right through January, including the long Australia Day weekend," said 1770 Environmental Tours marketing manager Amber Rodgers.

Ms Rodgers said a major factor had been clear access to the area by road this year, compared to two years ago when floods cut the roads.

"Our full day Paradise Tour has maintained a better percentage than the one hour Afternoon Cruise, comparatively to last year," she said.

"This is pleasing as it means we have showcased more highlights of our product to visitors, including the Bustard Head Light-station.

"This season has so far been a significant improvement on 2010-11 (when the floods hit) and we will know at the end of January if we have surpassed 2011-12's Christmas holiday period."

She said the 1770/Agnes Water area had the advantage of offering something for all categories of tourist.

"Certainly the natural beauty of the surrounding environment is undoubtedly a drawcard for visitors, both domestic and international. The town of 1770 and Agnes Water offers tourism products for a variety of markets without being overcrowded.

"Families, seniors and backpackers are all catered for with the tours, attractions and accommodation options in our community."

Glenda Jackson, Phil Geck, owner of 1770 Marina Cafe, and Bob Te Hira, owner of Fish 1770.
Glenda Jackson, Phil Geck, owner of 1770 Marina Cafe, and Bob Te Hira, owner of Fish 1770. Tom Huntley

1770 Marina Cafe and Fish 1770
A FIVE minute drive from Agnes Water brings you to the more secluded 1770, where small businesses operate in one of the most beautiful settings imaginable.

1770 Marina Cafe owner Phil Geck said the Christmas period had been good, largely because the rain had stayed away.

"The time between school break-up and Christmas was a bit quiet, but from Christmas it has been really good," he said.

Mr Geck said the rainy Christmas seasons of the past two years hadn't hurt him too badly, because the neighbouring LARC tours continued operating, which brought the customers.

Nonetheless, he said this Christmas period been busier than the past few.

He said there had been a lot of tourists from place like Brisbane and the Gold Coast, but the boom in Gladstone had led to a lot of people making the trip down south.

Fish 1770 owner Bob Te Hira was rapt with his Christmas period.

"It's been a lot busier than last year," he said.

The business has been running a new party boat service this season and Mr Te Hira said it had been a successful operation.

"We're very happy with how that's gone," he said. "It's been out every day this week. It's got a barbeque and seats eight to ten people, and I think people realise it is a great way to spend some time up the creek here."

Mr Geck and Mr Te Hira both agreed on importance of a strong Christmas season to the local community, where livelihoods were dependent on the industry.

Mr Te Hira said strong sense of community in the area made 1770/Agnes water a great place to be a small business.

Topics:  agnes water business seventeen seventy tourism

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