This is the last post of the winter adventures down south. Essentially I will try to be succinct and honest without pushing the truth too far or use too many superlatives. So dot by dot the places we really liked and the things to do there.
– Eden and Two Folds Bay: With a name like this you either get yourself ready to be disappointed or enchanted. For us the latter took over. Eden is a small town, not too far from Victoria but quite detached from the main highway. Situated on top of a hill, you will be sure to enjoy good exercise every time you want to do your laundry, replenish the boat in food, send postcards or just give in to eat a hamburger. The view is top, at 360 degrees showing the large deep bay where many yachts are anchored (terrible spot for westerlies). At Eden there are free hot public showers (accessible at the jetty/marina) which allow you to warm yourself for an endless 2 minutes and then see you scrubbing for 30 seconds until you can start the hot water again. Fair enough, this is quite efficient to save the town money and to avoid than people abuse this wonderful service cherished by yachties and travellers. Hot showers might seem ludicrous but when we were there, temperatures were in the maximum 18-20C during the day, so a good warming up was very welcome.
Eden is famous for its Killer Whale Museum where it exposes the story from the beginning of the 20th century when orcas and humans were hunting whales in a cooperative fashion. This “tradition” and hunting technique seems to have been inherited from aboriginal customs. Unfortunately, the symbiosis stopped after one of the hunter had hurt the male Orca lead, Tom, causing the latter to loose a tooth and leading him to his death by infection. This accident unsurprisingly was caused by the greediness of the man who wouldn’t leave the whale have the “tongue price”, which was the only thing the orcas were after; following the kill of the whale. The orcas were never seen again fishing with men or even visiting Two Folds bay. Out of guilt and remorse, the town built the Museum where Tom skeleton is exposed and his deeds are celebrated. Curiously, nothing of the final accident that led to Tom death is mentioned in the Museum. The Museum is quite famous now and it is the main source of income for the town: buses of tourists and grey nomads stop there by the truckload. It’s a very good Museum indeed, worth every cents of the entry fee.
For the ones that love outdoor, the Ben Boyds National Park is ideal. It offers a large choice of walks (or MTB for us), along the foreshore to discover this area full of history through the eccentricities of Ben Boyds. The Tower, never used as a lighthouse is reputedly haunted. Bittangabee, is a heaven hidden in the midst of the national park. Finally, Green Cape has a historical lighthouse and from there you can admire a full section of the coast never touched by civilization. The extreme south-eastern corner of Australia looks very attractive for survival camps and Bear Grills aficionados, its unspoiled wilderness extends endlessly for hundreds of kilometers. Have a look in Google Earth.
What else in Eden? Well, it is full of bell birds, filling the anchorage with their endless calls echoing as thousands of tiny golden bells. It can get to your nerves after a few days but it’s lovely. There is an great sea swimming pool on the main beach on the other side of town where pink granite overhang over a crystal clear sand filled bath while the foamy waves are lazily licking the rocks around it.If I have an advice about Eden: go there while you can a.s.a.p., because they are planning to built a gigantic ugly marina where the old cannery used to be. Therefore, there will be no more clear water on the anchorage (probably no possibility to anchor in front of the marina anyway), no more bell birds, no more melancholic old jetty full of delicious mussels that you can pick for free. They will ruin it, they will sell it and then they will forget how such a piece of paradise it was.
A beautiful anchorage for very shallow draft boats. We were anchored in the main river in the middle of the sand bank which leaves 1m depth at low tide. Perfect for Inara, this clear water river does not have many fishing boats passing through as the main marina/boat ramp is down the stream. Also Bermagui doesn’t have any maritime officer (delegated to Narooma), so we were not harassed by any cowboy desirous to spend his frustration on innocent yachties. Bermagui has an excellent coffee shop and bakery, a very nice atmosphere, MTB tracks very close from the anchorage and an endless network of trails in the national park adjacent filled by the songs of highly inspired lyre birds. It is criss-crossed by hidden little creeks (probably full of gold also). The track along the shore goes to the Wallaga mountain where gold used to be mined. You can still visit the old gold mine. We did so, with a group of elderly tourists all around 75 years old. I owed Ben so many apologies (crepes making) for insisting on taking the tour. We ended up “escaping” it at half visit scared and reminiscing memories from another gold mine and another zombie story. At the bottom of Wallaga Mount, there is a vast lake and it seems to be another area where MTB riding is promising. We spent a full week in Bermagui, not feeling the weight of time, really enjoying each single day.
A dump. Bad maritime officer. Crappy anchorage, terrible town scared by the highway, no good bakery or coffee shop, horrendous overbuilt foreshore, food replenishment made difficult because far from the water.
The goods things: Great trails for MTB and bicycle paths everywhere. A kitsch little arty cinema in the middle of the town. The seals that bake themselves on the main rockwall just 10 meters away from you.
A tiny, ridiculous cute little harbour. Next to the road. Excellent anchorage, very shallow (1m draft). Next to the road (downside) but extra close to Woolworth, Coles, Aldi (accross the road) The best spot for replenishing on the south coast AND heaps of delicious restaurants (especially Thai restaurant). We only stayed one night.
Beautiful if it wasn’t for the huge Naval base with warships that go back and forth all day across the bay for training. And at night, they fire bombs. Very good MTBing around the numerous tracks in the National Park on the south side. The Green Patch is an absolutely gorgeous place. They have hot showers at the National Park camping facilities. Free access for yachties. 🙂 Otherwise,not much more can be said, the towns around the bay are as boring as the weather we got while there: raining most of the days for 2 weeks. Cold, wet ghuuuh…
Finally my favorite place in the NSW coast: the Hawkesbury river.
There is nothing that can prepare you for the amazement of this labyrinth of gorges accessible from the sea so easily and most of it inaccessible by vehicle. The cliffs of sandstone abruptly covet kilometers of calm waters full of fishes, abundance of streams, caves, rocky bluffs and even waterfalls. We anchored Inara in front of one, very special. The downside is the proximity of Sydney which provides a huge number of boats. The upside is that even if Sydney is close, there is not one soul living on this land. This is mostly National Parks apart from a few tiny clusters of preposterous mansions officiating as weekenders for the rich and famous. “To live happy, let’s live hidden” as a French saying goes.
And I can’t resist. The worst place ever in the Eastern Australian coast I have ever been in: Batemans bay. There is absolutely nothing worthy of writing I can tell you about Batemans bay. The worst rock and rolly anchorage, no access to the foreshore, busy road accross the river, weekender place for Canberrans.
To finish still on a happy note, NSW was great. It kept us healthy, we did heaps of walking and riding. We almost were not bothered by the Maritime officers. It was cold, each dip in the water was a treat but we really enjoyed it.