Renee, Amy, Kayla and Brooke Nielsen board the LARC to head off to the Bustard Head lighthouse.
Renee, Amy, Kayla and Brooke Nielsen board the LARC to head off to the Bustard Head lighthouse. Liz Carson

LARCing about Bustard Bay

"IT'S informative, it's a bit of fun, there's something for everyone."

What is "it", you may ask?

It's the 1770 LARC Tour, which was the next day out for the Nielsen family on the NewsMail's Tourist in your Town series.

Dad Lee and daughter's Renee, 11, Amy, 9, Kayla, 7 and Brooke, 5, explored the remote coastline of Bustard Bay in a bright pink amphibious vehicle.

Mr Nielsen said it was a good day out for the whole family.

"I think the whole day was well worth it," he said.

"I loved the nice peaceful, serene drive up the beach, looking out on the ocean and seeing the undisturbed sand dunes."

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

The tour took the Nielsen family (and 26 other passengers) up the coastline, moving in and out of the water, with the LARC adapting to suit whether it's on land or in the water.

Mr Nielsen was impressed with the manoeuvrability of the LARC, which stands for Lighter Amphibious Resupply Cargo vessel.

"It was built in about 1965 and it doesn't appear that there has been anything better built to do the same thing. It can go up a 60% incline, which is pretty impressive."

The LARC showed off this impressive feat on the way up to Bustard Head lighthouse, which is Queensland's first coastal lighthouse, built in 1868.

On the way up, tour guide and LARC driver Isaac spoke about the history of the lighthouse and some of the tragedies that happened there.

The lighthouse arrived in Australia from England in prefabricated segments of cast iron.

Brooke Nielsen looks out at the passing scenery on the LARC tour. Photo Liz Carson / NewsMail
Brooke Nielsen looks out at the passing scenery on the LARC tour. Photo Liz Carson / NewsMail Liz Carson

Each piece was then hauled up to the top of Bustard Head by a draughthorse where it was then bolted together. Construction took 10 months and the light was first lit on June 29, 1868.

Mr Nielsen said the historical value of the lighthouse was irreplaceable.

"It's great that the tour makes people aware of the history of the area," he said.

The small, but solemn, cemetery at Bustard Head revealed some of the tragedies at the lighthouse.

Three people drowned in 1889 when a boat capsized in Pancake Creek, and a two-year-old died after she pulled a pot of boiling water over herself.

At the end of the day, before heading back to the 1770 Marina, the Nielsen girls had the chance to have a go at sandboarding.

Mr Nielsen said it was great watching his daughters hurtling down the sand dunes.

"It was a good end to the day," he said.

Renee and Amy Nielsen, Liz Carson, Brooke and Kayla Nielsen write their name in the sand on the LARC tour. Photo Liz Carson / NewsMail
Renee and Amy Nielsen, Liz Carson, Brooke and Kayla Nielsen write their name in the sand on the LARC tour. Photo Liz Carson / NewsMail Liz Carson

Fast facts

LARC stands for: Lighter Amphibious Resupply Cargo vessel.

The LARCs are named in honour of Sir Joseph Banks and Dr Daniel Carl Solander - the botanists who accompanied James Cook when he explored Australia's east coast.

On tour, the LARCs are always driven below the high tide mark, so the tracks wash away with the next tide and ensures the tour doesn't interfere with nesting seabirds or turtles.

The LARCs are self-righting like a yacht. If they are knocked over by a large wave they go all the way around and back up the right way. This has never happened in a tour situation.