YOU could be forgiven for driving, or sailing, straight past Queensland's most significant historical site. It's not hard to miss. The town of 1770 (yes, that's its real name) is no more than a tuck shop-size pub, an alfresco-style seafood restaurant, a small grocery store and a cluster of timber houses hidden behind the thick greenery that skirts the beach. Its population is equally small, less than 1,000 inhabitants. But size is irrelevant here. Located at the southern tip of the Barrier Reef, this ''blink and you'll miss'' coastal town is the birthplace of the Sunshine State where Captain Cook first landed in Queensland in May, 1770, just a month after that brief, historic stop-off in Botany Bay. Actually, this small coastal town was first referred to by the locals as Round Hill which described the knob off which Cook anchored the Endeavour in 1770. According to one local historian, the name 1770 originated from a 1935 survey which says: ''This is the place where Captain Cook landed on May 24, 1770, being the only [Queensland] place other than the Endeavour River''. The name of the town became official in the following year. Indeed, if you strip away all hints of modernity - the gas station, gravel roads and advertising billboards - 1770 has stayed more or less the same since Cook's landfall more than two centuries ago. Today, much of the wildlife and marine habitat which Cook observed through his binoculars can still be found. They continue to be the main attractions in the area. The coastal area preserves an interesting mix of vegetation such as mangrove fringed estuaries, freshwater swamps, lowland eucalypt forests and tall rain forest. Surrounding 1770 are three national parks - Eurimbula, Round Hill and Deepwater - all under the guardianship of the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage. 1770 is also a popular jumping off point for two beautiful coral cays, Lady Musgrave and Elliot Islands, the latter a holiday resort. Despite being an important historical landmark, this relatively unspoiled piece of land has remained largely unknown, partly because of the poor conditions of the gravel roads, and therefore access, leading to the town. However, the Queensland tourism industry is determined to change this by making 1770 a thriving travel destination. And the wheels are already turning. The gravel roads leading to both 1770 and its neighbouring town, Agnes Water, are currently being replaced with bitumen. Also, the 1770 Commemorative Festival, an annual ten-day funfair with highlights including the re-enactment of Captain Cook's landing in full costumes on the last day, is expected to put the town on the map. In fact, if you have a few days to kill, travelling up to 1770 by air, sea and land from Brisbane, Queensland's capital city, can be an incredible experience. I travelled up to the 1770 Commemorative Festival by plane, schooner and automobile. I flew to Bundaberg from Brisbane, and then sailed up to the town of 1770 in a 100-foot aluminium gaff-rigged schooner, the South Passage, operated by the Sail Training Association of Queensland. By taking the airbus route to Bundaberg, travellers get the chance to view Brisbane's sandy coastline and some spectacular mountain ranges inland. The whole journey takes about an hour. Bundaberg, also known as Bundy, is renowned for its sugar cane plantation - the district produces one fifth of Queensland's sugar crop - and ginger beer. Its name is believed to have come from the linking of ''Bunda'', the name of an aboriginal elder, and ''berg'' being a variation of an old Saxon word of town (burg). Naturally, one of the places to visit at Bundy is the Bundaberg Rum Distillery. According to its tour guide (the company gives daily guided tours), this 3.5 hectare site, located on the east side of the city, has been a major attraction since 1988. Some 60,000 tourists are expected to visit the plant this year. The smell of sugar at the distillery is overwhelming. It is well worth spending an hour or two at the distillery to see how the thick black molasses are fermented, distilled, condensed and turned into rum. One can get slightly tipsy by just inhaling the strong smell of rum at the maturation bond store where the the liqueur matures for a minimum of two years. Of course, I did not leave the distillery without tasting the real thing - which can be mixed with coke, milk, ginger beer . . . well anything you lay your hands on really. Also, watch out for a drink named Dark and Stormy. The way to Bundaberg Port passes several macadamia nuts and aloe vera plantations which are also the district's largest natural produce. You can travel up to 1770 from Bundaberg by road or by sea, but boarding the South Passage, for an overnight sail is an experience not to be missed. However, be warned, the trip is strictly for those with a strong stomach. The ship is owned by the Sail Training Association, a private, non-profit making organisation based in Brisbane. According to its operations director, Colleen Riga, the association hopes the schooner will also be used for sail training, with adventure day-trips along the east coast. Travel during the autumn season (April and May) is recommended because the air is less humid and hot. Once on board the vessel, which can accommodate around 24 passengers, you can share some of the deck work, keep watch at night, and even take the wheel during the day. Those who stayed up in the early hours for the watch are rewarded with the spectacular view of sunrise over the cloudless sky. Dolphins also accompany the schooner at dawn. With the right weather conditions, we were able to sail up to the edge of the Barrier Reef before anchoring off 1770. However, sailing on a choppy sea did mean most of the time the vessel was moving at an angle (45 degrees) at about eight to nine knots. I finally arrived at 1770 after a 20-hour sea journey, slightly wobbly but sound. As expected, fresh seafood dominates the menus of local restaurants and there is nothing better than to wash the delicious food down with fine Australian wine. However, I was a disappointed the following day when I had to miss the re-enactment of Cook's landing owing to our scheduled flight back to Bundaberg in a sea plane. As we climbed to about 1,500 feet, ''Captain Cook'' and his four-man crew made their landing below.