New eco-tourism venture adds a touch of luxury to the Light to Light adventure

The pinks and purples of the Light to Light walk
The pinks and purples of the Light to Light walk

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.

Mary Pearce (centre, white hat) and her girlfriends standing on top of Green Cape Lighthouse
Mary Pearce (centre, white hat) and her girlfriends standing on top of Green Cape Lighthouse

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.

Driven by a screw propeller, the Ly-ee-Moon was sailing from Melbourne to Sydney in what the Captain described as a “moderate sea” on the night of May 30, 1886.

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.

Mowary Beach, a highlight on the Light to Light walk
Mowary Beach, a highlight on the Light to Light walk

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

Wildlife abounds on the Light to Light walk
Wildlife abounds on the Light to Light walk

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.

“When we discovered Light to Light Camps, it was a dream come true,” Mary says.

“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

Chillaxing with Light to Light Camps
Chillaxing with Light to Light Camps

“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.

“This place is very special,” Jenny says.

The Light to Light Track follows some of Australia’s most spectacular coastline.

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.

The end of a great few days, Green Cap Lighthouse
The end of a great few days, Green Cape Lighthouse

“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.

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Yellow buoys off Merimbula and Malua Bay listening for sharks

Shark listening station - Malua Bay, supplied DPI.
Shark listening station – Malua Bay, supplied DPI.

The sapphire waters of the Far South Coast naturally draw your attention – forever changing, forever surprising.

This summer, just below Batemans Bay at Maula Bay and further south at Merimbula, a tall yellow buoy beyond the last line of breakers will catch your eye as your bum finds that sweet spot in the sand.

It’s a Shark Listening Station or VR4G, installed during November before the place filled up with holiday makers.

The one off Main Beach Merimbula brings the number of listening stations along the New South Wales coastline to twenty, all designed to give our feeble bodies the jump on these ‘monsters of the deep.’

Other locations include Kiama, Sussex Inlet, Mollymook, Bondi, Byron Bay, Ballina and Lennox Head.

The Member for Bega, Andrew Constance says these satellite-linked VR4G receivers record the presence of tagged sharks swimming within 500 metres of the listening station.

“Information on the movement of tagged sharks captured on the VR4Gs goes straight to a satellite and is then instantly sent to mobile devices via Twitter and the SharkSmart App.” he explains.

There are 114 White Sharks and 88 Bull Sharks that have been tagged by either the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) or CSIRO. These are the beasties that give themselves away when they swim near one of these hi-tech posts.

“Whilst we can’t tag every shark, the new listening stations will enhance bather safety by alerting beachgoers and authorities when a tagged shark is in the area,” Mr Constance says.

“They provide beachgoers with information and knowledge to help them assess their risk of a shark encounter before they hit the water.”

Shark at Bournda Island December 25,from https://twitter.com/NSWSharkSmart
Shark at Bournda Island December 25, from https://twitter.com/NSWSharkSmart

The technology is one component of the NSW Government’s $16m Shark Management Strategy and follows a run of fatal and near-fatal shark attacks in northern NSW during 2016.

Other parts of the strategy being seen locally include regular DPI helicopter patrols running between Kiama and Eden, and soon a new $33,000 viewing platform overlooking Pambula Beach.

Since the aerial patrols and listening stations became active seven local shark sightings have been reported to the Shark Smart App – all south of the Bega River mouth at Tathra.

The first alert on December 17 pointed to four Whaler Sharks near Bar Beach Merimbula, and two unidentified 2 metre sharks off Pambula Beach – both spotted by the DPI aerial team.

The most recent alert was sent out on December 29 with the helicopter reporting up to eight juvenile Bronze Whaler Sharks off Main Beach Merimbula.

In all cases, nearby authorities were notified and it was assessed that there was little threat to swimmers and surfers – sometimes simply because there was no one in the water.

If there is deemed to be a risk to people, lifesavers on the beach or the aerial patrol have the capacity to clear the water of swimmers.

Looking further north to the Shoalhaven, 13 shark alerts have been trigger during the same time frame around Ulladulla and Jervis Bay. On the Central and North Coasts, where there is a more intensive monitoring effort, 60 alerts have been issued taking in beaches between Lake Macquarie and Tweed Heads.

Unidentified sharks spotted 1km north of Tathra Beach on December 19, from https://twitter.com/NSWSharkSmart
Unidentified sharks spotted 1km north of Tathra Beach on December 19, from https://twitter.com/NSWSharkSmart

Broulee’s Andrew Edmunds, Director, Far South Coast Surf Life Saving says his organisation welcomes anything that helps lifesavers manage risk and allows people to make informed choices.

“Sharks are not the biggest risk to swimmers though,” Mr Edmunds says.

“Since the start of summer, we have had 18 deaths in New South Wales waters, none have been a result of shark interaction,” Mr Edmunds says.

“Unpatrolled beaches, rips and strong currents, not wearing life-jackets, unsupervised pools, ponds, and dams – these are the biggest risks.”

Mr Edmunds is hoping the listening stations might ease people’s concern about sharks.

“People will start to see sharks in the natural environment as normal,” he says.

“The frequency of the alerts will increase over time as more sharks are tagged, people might start to realise how commonplace sharks are.”

Shark Smart alerts as there appear on Twitter
Shark Smart alerts as they appear on Twitter

The yellow VR4G units sit high in the water and have been somewhat of a curiosity to beachgoers this summer with lifesavers taking regular questions.

“Stand-up paddle boarders have also been going out and back to investigate,” Mr Edmunds says.

The odds of being attacked or killed by a shark are said to be 1 in 3,748,067, despite the regularity of their presence in our environment that Mr Edumnds points to.

Those long odds however, are easily challenged by our active imaginations, fed by frequent news reports from the North Coast pointing to surfers bitten or killed and White Sharks snared in drum lines.

The tall yellow buoys that now sit out the front of Merimbula and Malua Bay not only highlight the physical presence of sharks but also our fragile minds when it comes to these creatures.