08 May 25 LARCing Years – Built to last
This month we are celebrating 25 years of LARCing. 1770 LARC! Tours first began operations in May 1994 and have since become one of the most well known icons here in the beautiful Town of 1770, showcasing the Bustard Head Lightstation and its surrounds.
Visionary Des Mergard, wife Betty and family wanted to share the beauty and isolation of Bustard Head Lightstation with visitors from all around. However, with challenging terrain and ever-changing sea conditions there was only one type of craft that was fit for the job and Des knew exactly where to find it. All the way from a car yard in Rockhampton already dressed in pink Sir Joseph Banks joined the family.
And so it began…
This ex-military Lighter Amphibious Resupply Cargo (L.A.R.C) vessel named after the botanist Sir Joseph Banks, proved to be well equipped for accessing the 27 kms of picturesque coastline boarding the Southern Great Barrier Reef. Climbing headlands, 4wding over sand dunes, traversing tidal creeks and riding surf, even with heavy loads proved to be a piece of (birthday) cake for this mean machine. The capabilities of our first LARC! impressed everyone so much so, that in 1997 we presented Sir Joseph Banks with a side kick…. another LARC! suitably named Dr Daniel Solander (Dr DC for short).
Then there was two
Now as a delightful duo, the LARCs were not only operating tours but were put to work. After a chance meeting with the very talented Stuart Buchanan and his passionate wife Shirley the LARCs volunteered to assist with the restoration of the Bustard Head Lightstation hauling supplies and manpower up to the headland. It was a drawn out difficult process but one of the most rewarding experiences for all involved, and a great story to hear on our full day Paradise Tour. Since then we have celebrated the opening of the inside of Lighthouse to the public in 2013 and the Lightstation’s 150th birthday.
Although the LARCs are an exceptional piece of engineering it takes equally exceptional crew to keep the wheels turning. Exciting tour guides, organised marketers, smiling front office faces, talented LARChanics and skilled skippers, just to name a few. But just as it is throughout the rest of the tourism industry, it has been and ever revolving door of talent coming and going. Each staff member past and present have been a blessing to us, all putting something special into what we provide. We have learnt from each other and grown. So if you’re reading this team, from now and then, thank you! We couldn’t have done 25 years without you!
Neil Mergard, the youngest son of Des and Betty, has been LARCing from the start and carries on the LARC! legacy as owner and operator. More commonly known as LARCman, Neil is still excited every day to showcase our stunning region to people from all around the globe. His enthusiasm for LARCing around is contagious and filters through from Neil to his guests and staff members. Neil is committed to supporting the local community, protecting the environment and ensures that the word of this importance is spread through every tour.
So many choices
1770 LARC! Tours now offers 4 unique tour options for the whole family and travellers from far and wide. The most famous is our full day Paradise Tour, incorporating a fully guided tour of the Bustard Head Lightstation followed by adrenalin fuelled sandboarding and swimming in Jenny Lind Creek. For those short on time the 1 hour joyride on our Afternoon Cruise is a great taste tester of the LARCabilities. Sunday’s are perfect for our relaxed LARC + Lunch! 2 hour picnic excursion. And for those looking for a genuine cultural experience our Goolimbil Walkabout will take you on a journey back in time.
So what is next?
Well let us tell you, we will be LARCing around for another 25 years! There are a lot of exciting times ahead to look forward to. A few ideas in the pipeline and one very exciting new project underway as we speak….