A new coastal walk aims to connect two NSW Far South Coast towns and their communities to its history and environment.
The Wharf to Wharf Walk officially opens on 26 June and spans 27km between the historic Merimbula and Tathra wharfs.
Once just a series of unconnected tracks that snaked north and south between these two great wharfs, and popular for generations of local amateur walkers, the Wharf to Wharf Walk has been made possible by a visionary group of locals who raised funds to develop a new brand, and created detailed track notes, trail markers and a dedicated website.
It is also a community project that demonstrates the resilience of regional communities.
Tathra Lions Club’s Mark Darby said the joint initiative between his club and Pambula-Merimbula Lions Club is about making the community aware that these tracks existed and could be connected into a longer path.
He said during discussions for the project he learnt many people in the community did not know you could walk right through.
Mr Darby said a reason people live in and visit the Far South Coast is due to its natural environment.
“It is an opportunity to reconnect with natural beauty by establishing a walk such as this,” he said.
“It’s not necessarily roads that connect us, it’s the environment.”
The walk passes through public coastal reserves, flora reserves, beaches and Bournda National Park, with Mr Darby saying it is suitable for families and that it took him nine hours from start to finish.
But the approximate middle ground is Hobart Beach campground in the national park so hikers can camp there overnight or utilise car shuffles to stay in town.
There are also plenty of optional side trails walkers can explore, leading to scenic headlands, hidden beaches and lagoons.
“You can do it in a day, but then you will miss so many beautiful spots,” said Mr Darby.
He said another benefit of the walk is it will help people learn about the history of the region.
Tathra Wharf was built in 1862 and used as a coastal shipping terminal. It is now the only deep sea wharf and cargo shed dating from the 1800s remaining on Australia’s east coast.
Merimbula Wharf was built in 1902 to assist the region’s growing agricultural trade and was used to transport people and goods up and down the coast until 1952.
Many community groups leant their expertise to help create the walk, including Bega Local Aboriginal Land Council, National Parks Association of NSW, Atlas of Life, and historical associations and museums.
“It’s a community walk, by the community for the community,” said Mr Darby.
Sapphire Coast Destination Marketing managing director Anthony Osborne said the walk is unique in how hikers can have a camping stopover at Bournda National Park or break the trip with a restaurant and stay in town via a short transfer.
He said it is a great showcase of how the region’s urban centres are only a stone’s throw from pristine and unspoiled coastal wilderness.
“The Wharf to Wharf Walk is perfectly suited as a taster for those keen to experience multi-day walking for the first time, but who are apprehensive about the bigger walks,” he said. “Or experienced walkers looking for something a bit different.
“It is such a credit to the community volunteers for bringing what was a locals’ walk to the surface for visitors and others in the community to enjoy.”
Bega Valley Shire Council Mayor Russell Fitzpatrick said it is a great project and he is looking forward to its opening on 26 June.
“I think it will be terrific,” he said. “People will be able to enjoy our natural coastline and beautiful bushland.”
Mayor Fitzpatrick said it will add to the wonderful walks in the Bega Valley Shire, such as the Light to Light walk, near Eden, and Bundian Way, which will open in the future.
The Wharf to Wharf Walk will be officially opened on 26 June, 2021. Visit its website by clicking here.