The Sapphire Coast’s natural wonders will not only take your breath away, but allow you to breathe in and experience the full force of the natural world while you hike, cruise and journey through these historic lands.
A wondrous wander
The 1.1km Pinnacles Loop Walking Track through , formerly Ben Boyd National Park, proves that you don’t have to go to the ends of the earth to be transported to another world. Wandering through woodland and heath, you emerge at lookouts that reveal horizon-bending coastal vistas south toward Lennards Island and north to Haycock Point. Make sure you stop to take in the view, this is the perfect vantage point for spotting whales on their migration between August and November. And then there’s the jaw-dropping Pinnacles themselves: massive eroded white-sand cliffs that fade into a layer of red gravel clay. They’re pretty to look at, but even more impressive when you know that they were formed between 23 and 30 million years ago. Talk about a history lesson.
Get up-close to giants
While it’s a thrill to watch humpback whales breach and blow from shore, there’s nothing quite like witnessing their antics in close quarters. Jump aboard a tour with Cat Balou Cruises from Eden to enjoy the show, which often features pods of dolphins, fur seals and penguins accompanying these gentle giants on their southerly migration (August to November). Be prepared for the adrenaline to kick in when a whale sidles up to the boat, teasing with the glimpse of a flipper before somersaulting and sending spray skyward. Over the course of three hours, you’ll hopefully enjoy many such encounters, while the Cat Balou staff impress you with their encyclopaedic knowledge of these waters, the marine life that calls them home and the company’s ongoing commitment to conservation.
Dip a toe into history
The thump of whale flippers is not the only sound that will stir your soul in Eden – if you’re visiting the Killer Whale Museum and hear a siren, head promptly to a lookout: it’s a sign that whale pods are on the move through Twofold Bay. The bay is the southernmost deep-water harbour in NSW and the third deepest in the Southern Hemisphere. Needless to say, it attracts some seriously large marine life – and drew whalers in droves until the 1930s, when whaling operations ceased. The history of this controversial industry is at the heart of the museum, which pays particular tribute to Old Tom, a 6.7m “joker” (according to local fishermen) and the last of the bay’s orcas.
To the lighthouse
Pharologists (aka lighthouse geeks) will wax lyrical about the 29m-high Green Cape Lighthouse, which was not only Australia’s first concrete lighthouse tower but is also the second tallest of its kind in the state. Built between 1881 and 1883, the impressive white-washed structure is now heritage listed, nodding to its importance in the state’s seafaring history. From here, your vista is of enormous cliffs cleaving into a wild ocean. So wild, in fact, that a number of ships now lie under the ocean’s surface just offshore. During migration, this perch offers one of your best chances of spotting whales offshore. Check in to one of the three lighthouse keeper's cottages, where you’ll fall asleep to the sound of a crackling fire and pounding seas in the distance and wake to misty mornings and maybe even a bandicoot on your doorstep.
Bay of wonder
Bittangabee Bay’s scalloped cove of opaline water may be small, but it offers plenty of natural wonders to take your breath away. Explore quietly and you might come across a menagerie of wildlife – from wombats and bandicoots to possums and lace monitors. The bay is within easy reach of a campground; rise at dawn to hear the chorus of birdsong that will become your soundtrack while you’re here. Nearby trails take you south to Green Cape Lighthouse and north to Twofold Bay, where you’ll journey through the eucalypts of Beowa National Park and breathe in the calm that this patch of NSW seems to manifest at every turn.
Let us do the planning for you!
Let us do the planning for you!
If you adore the gentle giant of the sea, you can take a deeper dive into the Sapphire Coast’s spectacular whale trail on this one-day itinerary.