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Coast icon introduced Seventeen Seventy to the world

Discovery Coast tourism and community icon Des Mergard's funeral was held in Agnes Water on Friday.
Discovery Coast tourism and community icon Des Mergard's funeral was held in Agnes Water on Friday. Contributed

DES Mergard was an icon on the Discovery Coast as the man who introduced Seventeen Seventy and Agnes Water to the world.

Desmond Andrew Mergard passed away at home peacefully last Sunday after a long battle with illness, surrounded by his family, aged 76 years.

Not only does Des leave behind his loving wife Betty, sons John, Mark and Neil, daughters Ruth and Desley, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, but a legacy of know-how and enthusiasm to get things done.

Des and Betty had an earthmoving business at Mundubbera, west of Bundaberg, and about four hours drive today from Agnes Water and Seventeen Seventy.

But back then the roads into Agnes were "shockers'' and it would take a day's drive - if your car stood up.

But Des loved the ocean - and fishing - and the family would regularly visit the untouched paradise of The Discovery Coast.

Youngest son Neil tells of Des transporting an old railway carriage down to the beach at Agnes, where the family spent many happy holidays.

Visiting Agnes became so regular the Mergards decided to live there and Des's love of the ocean and his mechanical and engineering skills allowed it to happen.

Over four years he built the steel-hulled MV James Cook in Mundubbera, trucked it to Burnett Heads and steamed up to Seventeen Seventy.

He then took a dredge from Mundubbera to Seveteen Seventy as well, and built the 1770 Marina, which the family still has as leasehold today.

"They used to call me Mr Noah (after the bloke who built the ark) in Mundubbera,'' Des told The Observer on the 25th anniversary of the launching of the MV James Cook in 2010.

Des also started 1770 Environmental Tours out of the 1770 Marina, using old army LARCs - Lighter Amphibious Resupply Cargo vehicles.

The big pink LARCs are now just as much of an icon on The Discovery Coast as Des. 

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

Des used the LARCs to their full capacity to help with the restoration work of the Bustard Head Lighthouse, in which the Mergard family played a major role in helping Stuart and Shirley Buchanan with the refurbishment.

The lighthouse opened to the public only this year, and though Des was too ill to be at the site, he was able to see it all live via the internet.

The Mergard family remains heavily involved in the Seventeen Seventy and Agnes Water community and at the 1770 Marina, where Neil runs 1770 Environmental Tours and Ruth and family the 1770 Marina Café.

There are plans for the family to further develop the 1770 Marina - and with Des looking on, the family ingenuity is sure to come to the fore.

Topics:  agnes water obituary seventeen seventy tourism



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