Today the story of a bunch of people with history and salt water in their veins, people making progress on ambitious plans to build a replica of an 1830’s luxury sailing ship.
Scottish-born entrepreneur, Ben Boyd sailed the 25 metre Wandererinto Sydney in July 1842, he soon set sail for Twofold Bay at Eden on the NSW Far South Coast following four steamers crammed with supplies down the coast.
Seeking his fortune, Boyd quickly established a network of pastoral properties spanning a landscape that took in the sea and the snow.
He also took charge of coastal steamship operations linking the region with Sydney, Melbourne, and Tasmania, and was a player in Eden’s whaling industry.
Part of his enterprise remains – the impressive Seahorse Inn. Construction started in 1843 using sandstone imported from Sydney and oak fixtures from England.
Boyd’s Tower on the southern shores of Twofold Bay is his other legacy. Constructed in 1847 the 23-metre-high lighthouse was intended to guide his fleet of ships home.
Fundraising moves ahead, and so too does the ship building.
I caught up with one of the committee members selling raffle tickets. Jon Gaul says apart from the historical and tourist interest the completed Wanderer will also offer youth training and development programs.
My partners in this program can also help you explore much of this history, Light to Light Camps explore the coastline between Boyd’s Tower and Greencape Lighthouse in style – it’s kinda like Attenborough meets Kardashian.
The record-breaking seas that slammed into the much loved Tathra Wharf in June 2016 have opened a new chapter in the history of this 150-year-old structure.
The timber that was salvaged from the wrecked sections of decking and pylons has been snapped up with a sense of reverence. A host of upcycled projects has been born spreading the affection for this Far South Coast icon.
Over the weekend of June 4 and 5 2016 waves of up to 17 meters high or more shattered timber and fixtures that had stood the test of time.
Protected from the more frequent rough weather of the south, the wharf was at the mercy of this north-easterly inspired weather event.
On the Monday morning that followed Bega Valley Shire Council confirmed that the timber ramp that leads from the roadway down to the old cargo platform had been lifted off its pylons by the monster seas.
“I’ll be putting up some display boards and mounting each piece properly to highlight the connection between this place [the harbourmaster’s residence] and the wharf,” Ant says.
Craftsman like Greg Wall and Peter Hull have given the salvaged timber a new use altogether.
“Some of this timber has seen 150 years of traffic, it’s too good for firewood,” Greg says.
The woodworker from Black Range has turned a mix old stringy bark, iron bark, and gray box into a mortise and tenon joint bookcase for the wharf museum.
“I wanted to construct the bookcase using the skills of the time, the skills of 150 years ago when the wharf was built,” Greg explains.
Tarraganda joiner, Peter Hull says it’s been a thrill working with such significant timber and turning it into vanity benchtops and mantle pieces.
“My clients have loved being able to share the story behind their new feature,” Peter says.
Click on each photo to get a bigger view…
Apart from using its stockpiled timber in bridge structures, Bega Valley Shire Council plans on using some of its Tathra Wharf stash to make street furniture and gateway signage at the northern, southern, and western entries to the shire.
Some of the turpentine has already found bums in need of a seat in the Merimbula CBD and on the very structure it came from.
On her sunny verandah in Jellat, Museum Secretary, Michelle Russell is just happy to have a few lumps of the wharf to sit pot plants on.
“I have a family connection, Daniel Gowing was one of the first people involved in constructing the wharf,” Michelle says.
“I would like to thank Council for giving us [the museum] the timber because it’s been a great fundraiser,” she says.
“We haven’t decided what we are doing with the money yet, but we have a few projects in mind.”
Click on each photo to get a bigger view…
Apart from the acute damage that resulted from the East Coast Low of June last year, further assessments uncovered defects in 22 of the wharf’s 78 pylons. More work is needed to secure the structure’s long-term future especially in the face of increasingly testy seas.
The pink and purple coastline that stretches south from Twofold Bay at Eden has long inspired bold and daring feats, and it continues to do so in 2107 with the launch of a new eco-tourism venture.
Light to Light Camps rolls out the red carpet for small groups of hikers, the first party of four ‘mature‘ ladies has just returned beaming about the experience.
Jenny and Arthur Robb have seen the potential this distinctive environment embodies, both from a business perspective as a new tourist attraction and at a personal level for those who lace up their boots and walk the track over two nights and three days.
This 31-kilometre adventure spans the ever-changing coastline of the Ben Boyd National Park on the Far South Coast of New South Wales.
The ‘lights’ that inspire the name are Boyd’s Tower and Green Cape Lighthouse.
Walkers travel between seven and 13-kilometres every day, an ‘intermediate’ walk taking between three and four and half hours after a good breakfast.
The first people of this country have known the track for thousands of years, the Yuin People have a history of hunting for whales from this shoreline and collecting shellfish, one midden in the area dates back 3,000 years.
White man history is perhaps more obvious to hikers and was a highlight for Mary Pearce and her girlfriends, the first to do the walk under Jenny and Arthur’s watch.
“Something I knew about but had never been to, and it was very poignant, was the Ly-ee Moon Cemetery, just a little bit north of Green Cape,” Mary says.
At around 9:30 pm the ship struck the rocky reef at the foot of Green Cape Lighthouse, which had only been in operation for the three years prior.
Seventy-one men, women and children lost their lives, the cemetery Mary points to is the stark reminder of the disaster. Sixteen people were heroically rescued in the darkness by the Lighthouse Keeper and his assistant.
Mary says Arthur and Jenny’s knowledge of the history dotted along the track makes for great campfire conversation at breakfast and dinner.
History is your starting point on day one of the walk under Ben Boyd’s Tower, on the southern edge of Twofold Bay.
Boyd was a Scottish stockbroker and entrepreneur with big ambitions in the new colony that was taking shape far from his London HQ.
The tower was built in 1847, Boyd keen to establish a lighthouse to guide his fleet of steamers and whaling boats home. His big plans failed on all fronts, but his tenacity is dotted around Eden to this day. I’ll leave Arthur and Jenny to tell you more.
While the history you will experience with Light to Light Camps is rich and varied, it’s the environment that is front and centre during this experience.
“It was absolutely so memorable,” Mary says.
“We’re keen birdwatchers, and we were really after a sighting of the Eastern Ground Parrot, which is quite elusive and rare.
“Arthur had us all clued up for it, he also told us we needed to be quiet,” Mary laughs
Two sightings followed on the stretch between Bittangabee Campground and Green Cape.
“Quite beautiful, quite spectacular, and very special,” Mary says.
Idyllic but basic campgrounds managed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service at Saltwater Creek and Bittangabee Bay have always offered respite and sanctuary for walkers doing the track, but camping in that traditional sense is not an option for Mary and her girlfriends, who are all aged in their late 50’s, early 60’s.
What Jenny and Arthur offer, makes camping possible for people who otherwise wouldn’t and without a doubt they take it to a new level.
“We had the camping without the pain of camping, Jenny and Arthur took away the pain.”
Click play to hear more about Mary’s adventure with Light to Light Camps…
Mary says the walk itself is not terribly hard and remembers walking into Saltwater at the end of the first leg to be greeted by her hosts.
“We walked into this most gorgeous set up,” Mary recalls
“There were twin tents, beautiful camp stretchers with mattresses and white sheets and white, crisp pillowcases.
“We had a shower with hot water and we had gourmet food and wine, it was just like the Hilton at Saltwater,” Mary says.
The smile on the veteran teacher’s face broadens as she remembers the snacks and treats she nibbled in cool shady gullies along the way, and the fresh salad wraps that were eaten at lunch after a swim in the brilliantly blue waters of a sandy cove.
Hostess, Jenny has lived in the local area since the early 1980’s, Arthur since the mid-1990’s.
They are driven by sharing this unique landscape and it’s wildlife with people and providing a connection and experience not possible without their efforts.
The trail moves beside rocks dating back over 400 million years, a marine environment with incomparable diversity, coastal heath and forests of Banksia and Ti-tree, side by side with ancient Aboriginal culture.
“The stories of Eden’s whaling days are also part of the journey and the incredible and long-lasting relationship between whalers and Killer Whales,” Jenny explains.
“There is a lot to take in, and we invite people to explore it all at their our own pace without the burden of tents, food and extra water.
“We are there at the start and end of every day to spoil you with delicious dinners, a hot shower and a luxurious camp set up – we’ve got you covered,” Jenny beams.
Any new business comes with a good dose of nerves and risk. Being bold and daring is part of the required toolkit.
Mary thinks Jenny and Arthur are on a winner.
“I can see overseas tourists just loving it,” she says.
“It’s a truly Australian experience, it’s not mass-produced and plastic, it’s really as we are, the potential is just amazing.”
Light to Light Camps comes from and is inspired by South East NSW, About Regional is a proud partner and supporter.