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The LARC! Company Background

Founded by Des & Betty Mergard in 1985, the first tourism operation on the Discovery Coast providing day and overnight fishing charters to the Great Barrier Reef aboard the 45ft steel cruiser MV James Cook....

From this humble beginning the 1770 Marina complex was constructed, offering marine related services and a departure point to the Great Barrier Reef for the MV James Cook, with the vision of attracting future reef tourism operations.

Nine years later in 1994, 1770 Environmental Tours began operation, when the Mergard family envisaged sharing the beauty and isolation of Bustard Bay along with the Bustard Head Lighthouse, with visitors to this picturesque area of Queensland's Central Coastline. Des, Betty and son, Neil Mergard purchased their first "Vessel" from a car yard in Rockhampton with the view to bring this idea to fruition. The ex military Lighter Amphibious Resupply Cargo ( L.A.R.C ) vessel - chosen for its versatility, reliability and low environmental impact was the ideal form of transport to access the 30kms of pristine coastline and primarily the now automated Bustard Head Lightstation.

After two years of operation a second vessel was commissioned, the two machines were appropriately named Sir Joseph Banks and D C Solander. Each vessel carries 32 passengers, accommodating full coach loads of visitors who travel to 1770.

In 2002, the Bustard Head Lightstation Association was formed and in partnership with 1770 Environmental Tours, resored the lightstation, which we now take pride in presenting to our LARC! guests, with a museum in the Head Light Keepers cottage. In 2013 we were granted access INSIDE Bustard Head Lightstation, Qld's only operating Lighthouse which allows the public to enter.

In 2005 Neil and Katherine Mergard purchased, parents, Des & Betty's share of the business, 1770 Environmental Tours. It is an on going mission for them and their crew to improve the highly acclaimed LARC! Tours promoting the LARC! and the Discovery Coast as a wonderful holiday destination.


1770 Environmental Tours contribute significantly to the tourism experience within the Gladstone and Bundaberg regions with the ultimate vision for the LARC!'s to be recognized as an Australian tourism icon providing the best environmental, cultural and historical experience by showcasing the natural attributes of the Town of 1770.

The pink LARC!'s have starred on internationally aired television programmes such as 'The Great Outdoors', 'Getaway', 'The Great South East', 'Creek to Coast' and 'Queensland Weekender', drawing this valued media spotlight to not only 1770 LARC! Tours but to the entire Gladstone region.