Agnes Water, a coastal town of about 1600 people (including tourists on census night), is 80 km south-east of Gladstone. It faces Queensland's northernmost surf beach, which runs northwards to Round Head Hill and Bustard Bay.
Agnes Water was reportedly named after a coastal schooner, the Agnes, lost at sea in 1873, most probably off the surf coast. Five years later the locality was under a pastoral lease to Daniel Clowes, who remained there until his death in 1891. The gravestones of Clowes and his wife are near the present township. There was sawmilling in the locality in the 1890s and the wide beach was a popular venue, particularly as buggies could be driven on to it. It became a holiday destination, and weekend residences were built, notably on Round Hill where the Town of 1770 was officially named in 1936. Situated about five kilometres north of Agnes Water, its name commemorates Captain James Cook's first Queensland landfall in May 1770.
By the 1970s there were about 80 holiday houses and weekenders at Agnes Water. A subdivision of over 70 land blocks was released in 1976, and within 15 years Agnes Water had grown to be the most populous town in Miriam Vale Shire. Continued population growth, spurred in part by the 'seachange' phenomenon meant that by 2001 the town's population was three times that of the shire's administrative centre, Miriam Vale. Agnes Water became the principal commercial and industrial centre in the shire.
As well as the surf beach, Agnes Water is intersected by rocky headlands and has a stream behind the coastline. It has a commercial centre with numerous shops, professional offices, a medical centre, and two apartment blocks. The town also hosts a community centre, coastal camping reserve, life-saving club, State primary school (1990), and a museum which houses the Miriam Vale Historical Society
Described as 'the new Noosa, the next Byron Bay', by the mid-2000s considerable resort development was proposed or under way at Agnes Water-Town of 1770. Projects included the Pavilions Mirage apartments, each with a starting price at that time of $1.25 million. The Sunrise estate on an ocean headland offered sites at $2 million or more. An airport and golf course at Oyster Creek, west of Agnes Water, were also proposed. Contemporary economic activity centres on tourism, construction, retailing, agriculture and manufacturing.
Agnes Water's census populations have been:
(includes holiday-makers & tourists)
Val Growcott & Margaret Taylor, eds, A short history of Miriam Vale Shire: the birthplace of Queensland from the journals of Arthur Jeffrey, Agnes Water, Miriam Vale Historical Society, c1995