There are so many places to explore around here! It was great to have my parents’ place as a base for heading out on day trips this week. Here is a brief description of the spots we visited in the local area:
Ben Boyd National Park
This national park can be covered in a day, though there are campgrounds, so you could easily spend longer. We covered four areas, all of which were stunning. There is an $8 park fee, but it is well-worth it. The long forested drive in was interesting, as we kept seeing goannas sun-baking on the road. As the car approached, the goanna would leap into a tree and then freeze. They camouflage well into the bark. We were most excited when a giant goanna crossed our path. It was at least 1.5 metres long and really fat – I wouldn’t want to get into a fight with that one!
We payed our park fees at Disaster Bay lookout, which offered a brilliant view over the ocean. We then continued driving to Green Cape Light-station, where solar panels power the small settlement and the lighthouse stands majestically on the hill. The lighthouse was built in response to a number of shipwrecks that occurred on this stretch of coast.
Next stop was Bittangbee Bay where we stopped for a picnic lunch. Here, there is a pretty beach and an old supply storage shed. Green Cape Light-station used to collect their supplies/building materials from here via horse and cart back in the late 1800’s, when it was under construction.
After seeing these two attractions, it was time to make our way to Boyd’s Tower. Built in 1847 by entrepreneur Ben Boyd, it was eventually taken over by the Davidson family as a vantage point for spotting whales. A gunshot signal would be given to the fisherman when a whale was sited. These animals were highly sought after for their oil and whalebone. On-shore whaling operations occurred at the Historic Whaling Station in Twofold Bay, which we visited afterwards. It was a very peaceful bay when we saw it, with just a few remnants of machinery, but back in its day, the place would have been busy and the stench of the whale is said to have been very strong. Whilst it is an interesting place historically, I’m very happy that this industry is no longer practiced in Australia.
This is my favourite coastal town in the area. It is low-key and relaxed, with magical ocean views from a number of spots and plenty of beach to laze about on. We had a coffee down at The Wharf, a pretty pink building, with a jetty swarming with fisherman! We checked out the pretty views from a number of lookouts (Chamberlain’s lookout, Kianinny Bay, the memorial) and relaxed on Tathra beach, though the sun was out in full-force so we retreated to the van later in the day.
Again, we didn’t spend long here, though it is situated in a very pretty spot on the lake. There are magical ocean views and it is a reasonably large centre, with plenty of cafes and even a local cinema: The Picture Show Man. We met my parents here and watched the new James Bond film ‘Spectre.’ Sitting in the cinemas was the famous Australian actor Frankie J. Holden. He also featured on one of the local car ads prior to the film! Aside from the excitement of seeing him, the film was fantastic. It had everything you expect in a 007 film – action, car chases, guns, an attractive female lead and Q’s gadgets. Thoroughly enjoyable, though nail-biting at times!
Mimosa Rocks NP
Driving from Tathra to Bermagui, there will be a turn-off to Aragunnu campgrounds in the Mimosa Rocks National Park. The dirt road on the way in is rough, but you don’t need a four-wheel drive. There are three campsites to choose from. We settled on the first one, right by the ocean, so that we could easily stroll down to the beach, but all three are equally as pretty. You do need to pay $11.50 per person per night, which a ranger comes to collect at around 5pm. Seems a bit steep for the use of a pit toilet and no other facilities (I always feel that camping in the bush should be free), but it was worth it for a night and at least the payment goes towards maintaining this beautiful area for others to enjoy at a later date.
When you arrive, there is a short walk that takes you from the first camp ground right through to the last. Along the way, we came across a wallaby who stood under a tree staring directly at us. It hopped away as we got closer. These animals are beautiful and well-camouflaged for the bush. Later down the track, we came across two others grazing on native grasses. They made my day!
Aside from native wildlife, the vegetation is very pretty, with little yellow flowers, ferns and eucalyptus forest all the way along. Wrens flit around between the bushes and waves crash softly in the background. Along the boardwalk, we passed an Aboriginal midden. Usually, these are made up of shells and would inform future tribes of the best food available in the area. We weren’t able to get too close, however, as it was a sacred site.
At the end of the boardwalk, there are rock pools to explore. We saw loads of crabs that scuttled away as soon as they saw us coming. Some were quite large. There were also a variety of fish and shell fish. The views over the ocean were spectacular, as the waves crash over the rocks.
Later, down by the beach, we saw a whole lot of blue bottle jellyfish washed up on the shore. They are stunning – the colours in nature astound me sometimes. They were all puffed up like little balloons and usually had one really long tentacle trailing behind them in the sand. We took some photos as the sun set and then made our way back to the van for a feast of gin and tonics, cheese and crackers and pasta. Snuggled up in the van, we watched a movie and fell asleep to the sounds of the ocean.
The next morning, we sat outside drinking freshly brewed coffee and eating toast. The soft, morning sunlight filtered down through the banksia and gum trees which stood tall, their trunks twisted by decades of ocean winds. A wallaby hopped through the ferns and wild grasses, and birds flew from branch to branch up above, singing their various songs. Spider webs glistened under the sunlight and the odd fly buzzed around. The waves crashed gently nearby, whilst Fleetwood Mac played softly through the van speakers.
Aragunnu is a very pretty place. It almost has a sense of magic about it. People come and go, yet the coastline remains and nature evolves with it. There is something old and permanent about this isolated spot. It feels like we are being watched by the animals, the birds, the insects and the trees. We are not alone here and yet it feels so peaceful and calm.
We only had a taste of this town as we drove through, but there was a pretty beach we stopped off at, just before the main settlement. We saw some pelicans and sea gulls, as well as dodging a giant goanna on the road nearby! The water is starting to get warmer – I could almost be tempted for a swim!
These are only a handful of the places you could visit along the Sapphire Coast. We passed through towns such as Bega (famous for its cheese), Eden (where we saw the kangaroos on the golf course) and, of course, Candelo. We’ll have to save the rest for next time!