Bushwalking in Eden
An unexpected adventure for first time bushwalkers in Eden
Think of Eden and you probably think of beaches and whales. But ancient forested tracks and historic trail-side stopovers make this Sapphire Coast town the ideal spot for first-time bushwalkers.
Eden fronts Twofold Bay – the Southern Hemisphere’s third-deepest natural harbour. This waterfront location makes the Far South Coast town one of the best spots for whale watching as whales stop to feed in the bay during their southern migration in spring.
It might not be the first place that springs to mind when you’re thinking of bushwalking, but Eden’s water frontage isn’t its only attraction. It’s surrounded by greenery, with national parks and rugged peaks making it a bushwalker’s paradise. Eden itself can feel like a step back in time, in the best possible sense.
Here are a collection of great walks for the novice trekker, plus some tips on where to stay and what to eat.
Where to walk
Of course it’s possible to conquer Ben Boyd National Park’s 30km one-way Light to Light walk, the Far South Coast’s premier bushwalk, in a day – but why rush through when there’s so much to see and do along the way? The first decision is to settle on transport logistics (you can book a transfer north to Boyds Tower through NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service’s Merimbula office, take two cars to create your own shuttle, or sign up with Sapphire Coast Guiding Co).
The track is more exposed in the south and shaded in the north, if that helps with planning. Those hiking in leisurely fashion can stay overnight in comfort (and enjoy the hot water) at Telegraph Station bunkhouse near Green Cape Lightstation or swan around the more luxurious, renovated, heritage Lightstation Keepers’ Cottages. Along the route, stay overnight at Saltwater Creek and/or Bittangabee Beach campgrounds – both are near great swimming spots. As you hike through coastal heathlands and melaleuca and eucalypt forests, keep your eyes peeled for kangaroos, wallabies and sunbathing goannas. In autumn, lyrebirds regularly put on a show for campers at Bittangabee; from June to November, watch for the acrobatics of thousands of migrating whales travelling along the Humpback Highway.
Bundian Way, an ancient Aboriginal travelling route between Twofold Bay and Mount Kosciuszko, is being revived as an epic 380km walking track. Until that happens, you can experience a small taste at the Eden end. The accessible 600m Whale Dreaming Trail starts at the bottom of Imlay Street at Snug Cove and continues through native gardens to a lookout over Twofold Bay. Learn about the extraordinary relationship between the local indigenous people and the beowas (killer whales) that existed before European settlers arrived. The 1.8km Story Trail takes you from Cocora Beach to Quarantine Bay, passing a specially built ceremonial performance place.
On the town’s northern side is the Lake Curalo boardwalk, a flat 6km trail that meanders around the coastal estuary’s shoreline. Along the way, see swamp melaleuca forest, look for pelicans and swans, and peer into the shallow water to spot fish. If you’re still feeling energetic, follow the Aslings Beach maritime walk south from the lake to a stunning ocean rock pool. Eden’s maritime history is etched into the footpath.
North of Eden near Pambula, there’s the stunning 3km Haycock Point to Barmouth Beach walk in Ben Boyd National Park. Revel in the park’s remote beauty as you stroll through windswept heath and woodlands, enjoying the sea cliffs and rock formations. At Barmouth Beach, go swimming, fishing or birdwatching (remember to pack the binoculars) or relax with a picnic. While in the area, head to the Pinnacles loop walking track car park to reach the 1.1km Pinnacles loop from which you can view the spectacular erosion feature – a cliff of soft white sand capped with red gravel clay that was formed millions of years ago.
A 30min drive south around Twofold Bay brings you to the 800m Boyds Tower track – it takes you to the historic tower designed by controversial Scottish entrepreneur Benjamin Boyd. He intended it as a lighthouse, but it was only ever used to spot whales during whaling operations.
Where to stay
The chalet-shaped three-bedroom Snug Cove Villas are situated in the heart of Eden. They offer views of both the harbour and Aslings Beach, and plenty of space for a small group.
Just south of town, fronting both Shadrachs Creek and Legges Beach, is the BIG4 Eden Beachfront Holiday Park. Choose a beachfront chalet or cabin, or stay creek-side. If you’re embracing van life or paring it right back with a night under canvas, opt for a powered or unpowered site. The beach fronts the clear, serene waters of Quarantine Bay (part of the more epic Twofold Bay) where you can head for snorkelling or a few lazy laps.
If you’re keen to experience the big outdoors from a tiny house, check out River Tiny, offered by Eden Escapes. Located just south of Eden on the Kiah River, this tiny house has a queen-size loft bed and full-size shower. Outside, there’s a barbecue and firepit, or pack a picnic bag to graze by the river where you might spy a white-bellied sea eagle or azure kingfisher.
Where to eat & drink
As Sprout Eden’s name suggests, this cafe and produce store is all about putting healthy food front and centre. The all-day menu features the likes of salad topped with Eden Smokehouse’s hot-smoked salmon, vegan burgers and breakfast burritos, while seasonal specials might include a savoury muffin stuffed with balsamic-roasted cherry tomatoes, basil and spring onion. Fresh local produce, such as apples, rhubarb, blueberries and peaches, is also available for sale.
Essentially Eden, the restaurant tucked within Eden’s Great Southern Inn, serves up classic pub fare (think steaks, parmis, lamb cutlets, burgers) as well as delectable seafood dishes that reflect the pub’s home in one of the Sapphire Coast’s commercial fishing ports. Fill up on oysters, salt and pepper squid, beer-battered flathead, fish and chips, or seafood plates for two. If you’re lucky, lobster might even make an appearance on the specials board.
At Ollie Mason’s Piattini Cafe (piattini means saucers), build a meal to match the size of your hunger. Make a feast of arancini balls, chicken tenders, bruschetta and salt and Szechuan pepper squid, or browse the menu for gourmet burgers and seafood mains such as a bowl of mussels or fish nachos. On some Saturdays, the café hosts live music.