The Light to Light trail is a 31km walk between two lighthouses near Eden on the NSW Sapphire Coast. As soon as I heard about the short multi-day coastal walk, I made plans to try it out.
Getting to the Light to Light
It’s easy to fly to Merimbula, the pickup point if you’re walking the Light to Light with Life’s an Adventure. From my comfortable window seat of the small twin engine plane, the coast opens out beneath me. Little settlements dot the coastline. Ribbon-like, scalloped sandy beaches edge the sparkling sapphire coloured sea.
After a cup of tea and pleasant flight, we land without fuss at Merimbula Airport. Almost as soon as we walk into the small airport building, a metal roller door rattles open to reveal our luggage piled neatly on a trailer.
With about 24 hours before our walking group meets up, I drop my bags and set out to explore Merimbula.
The shops and beaches are all within walking distance. I walk along the lake’s shore to main beach. Sea grass wafts back and forth in the lake’s clear shallow water. Swirls of different coloured sand create interesting patterns on the seabed. Rusty pelican sculptures created from scrap metal add to the coastal ambience.
Children play at the water’s edge. A strong cool wind blows across the beach. Mist sprays off the choppy white crests. A kite surfer uses all his strength to keep upright as he speeds across the waves.
The following morning, I walk along the boardwalk which edges the lake. It’s early and few people are about. Two large splashes indicate jumping fish. I joke with a fisherman that he’s in the wrong spot. He moves. I don’t think it helps him any.
Oysters cling to the striated red rock. Puffer fish swim in pairs in the shallows. Following the sound of birds tittering in the bushes, I spot two tiny shrub wrens. Dull brown, they’d both fit in the palm of my hand.
The Seahorse Inn
Accommodation over the three nights of the walk is at the Seahorse Inn in Boydtown, an estate about thirty minutes by car south of Merimbula.
Entering the Inn, I cross gleaming wooden floors to a sweeping curved staircase covered in a thick carpet. My first thought is a practical one. “I’ll have to remove my dirty walking boots when I return from our walk”.
My recently renovated room is lovely. A comfy bed, full mini-bar and a balcony that looks out onto Twofold Bay. I’ll enjoy returning here after a day of walking.
Walking the Light to Light
Our group meets up for dinner. Four female friends have come down from Sydney. All but one, who says she’ll be puffing at the back, are experienced walkers. I’ll be at the back too. Although I have walked a fair bit, I am slow. A couple from Kiama and a friend of mine make up the rest. Most of us are seniors.
Jason, who lives locally, will guide us along the track.
Beowa National Park
The track meanders through Beowa National Park. Beowa means orca or killer whale in the local Indigenous Language. It’s the new name for Ben Boyd National Park, recently renamed because of Benjamin Boyd’s history of blackbirding.
Beginning at Boyds Tower, the trail runs along the coast to Green Cape Lighthouse.
Boyds Tower never was a Lighthouse, although Benjamin Boyd very much wanted it to be designated as one. His application to have the tower used as a lighthouse was refused as he wouldn’t agree to keep the light burning to warn all ships, not just his own. Instead, he used the tower to spot whales, whaling being an important industry in the area at that time.
Ninety eight percent of the area we walk through was devastated in the 2019 fires. Heavy rains soon after the fires ensured that the bush regenerated. Blackened tree trunks and small trees that have fallen over the track remind us of the devastation.
The forested area, coastal heath and tea tree thickets that we walk through are lush and green. The bush has come back.
Often, the path opens out to the sea where clear deep blue waves crash against the rich red rock, typical of the area. As Loretta says, “the blue against the red is lovely”.
Jason leads us in single file. The pace on the mostly flat sandy path is quite manageable. An occasional rise causes some heavy breathing, but that soon passes. We pick our way across what Jason calls a “rock garden” of large rounded plate sized rocks, take our boots off to cross a stream and push through sections of thick bush.
We stop for lunch in isolated spots with incredible views and sit in a field with butterflies fluttering above our head and dragonflies zipping back and forth.
On this pack free walk all we carry is our lunch, water and rain gear. Jason boils a billy for morning tea. The hot cuppa with a muffin or slice is a perfect way to break up the walk.
A Boat Cruise from Eden
Life’s an Adventure includes what they call a “wow Factor” on each of their walks. A boat cruise on Twofold Bay is the “wow factor” for this walk. The morning spent on the Cat Balou is a pleasant and different way to discover the area. The boat rolls gently along on the slight swell, the engine thrumming below. Water quietly laps the sides of the boat.
I learn how killer whales worked with whalers to corral hunted whales. Their reward? The tongue and lips of the slaughtered whales. I’m astonished to hear that eucalyptus hardwood woodchips are shipped from here to Japan. Are we really still logging hardwood forests?
Lana, who gives the commentary, explains that the first ship Ben Boyd sent to Eden was called the Seahorse. He named the inn he built after the ship. It has been substantially restored and renovated since then.
Disappointment and a Highlight
The second day of walking is disappointing in that a temporary road closure means we cannot walk the full section as described. Instead, leaving late morning after the cruise, we walk to Hegartys Bay and back. The bay is a highlight for me.
We sit in the shade on the shelly beach enjoying the solitude. Some remove their boots to soak their feet in the cool water. When I wander over to chat to them, a small wave catches me unawares drenching my boots. Fortunately, my socks remain dry.
Before the fast-paced return walk, Jason leads us across a rock platform. Grabbing hand holds to haul ourselves up, we clamber after him. The destination? A small but deep waterhole. The crystal-clear water reveals a black fish hiding in the shadows.
Green Cape Lighthouse
On day three, we walk from Pulpit Rock, past the Lyee Moon Cemetery, to Green Cape Lighthouse, The Lyee Moon came aground at Green Cape with the loss of over 70 lives. There have been several shipwrecks in the area.
This too is a shortened walk, but perhaps given the strength of the wind, that’s for the best. At first the bush shelters us from the wind. Later, walking along the boardwalk to the lighthouse, I stagger drunkenly as I’m buffeted by fierce gusts. The little cups of the weather vane rattle as they spin at such a rate they risk taking off.
We don’t stay on the point for very long. After a few photos we hurry back to a sheltered spot and wait for our lift back to the Seahorse Inn.
On this walk by Life’s an Adventure, all meals and wine with dinner are provided. The food is particularly good. We all order and thoroughly enjoy the fresh local oysters on the second night.
Flora and Bushtucker on the Light to Light
Jason has a wealth of knowledge about the bush. He points out the frilly petalled fringe lily and the purple fan flower. He explains why there’s no undergrowth beneath the tea tree thicket. Nitrogen from the needles inhibits the growth of other plants.
There’s bush tucker on the trail too. The inside of the native passionfruit, a smooth soft skinned green fruit, is clear with black seeds. While similar to the passionfruit that we all know, the aftertaste is a little unpleasant.
I always thought the creeping succulent “pigface” with its pink flower was an import. It’s not. And it’s a good source of nutrition. Jason explains that the fruit is very tasty. We’ll have to believe him as there’s no fruit on hand to try.
A yellow-tailed black cockatoo has stripped the bark of a Melaleuca and dug into the trunk to search for grubs.
Animals on the Light to Light
We don’t see much sea life. It’s the wrong season for whales and seals and dolphins remain elusive. We do come a pencil thin snake less than 30cm long. As we approach it slithers off the path.
Jason identifies a weird bug with bright red pincer like protrusions. About 3cm long with hard ‘plates’ banded across its body, it’s a bush cockroach.
A black lace monitor stretches across the track, head and tail hidden from view. He has a thick leathery skin with yellow markings.
Stepping onto the beach at Saltwater Creek, a movement to my left draws my attention. It’s a kangaroo, bounding gracefully down to the water, oblivious of the many eyes watching its progress.
My Thoughts on the Light to Light Walk
The Light to Light walking trail is a great entry walk for people new to multi day walks. The variety in scenery will also keep even the most experienced walker interested. Doing it pack free with a guide, organised transport to and from the daily walks and a delicious meal and comfortable bed at the end of each day is pure luxury.
Note: I was a guest of Life’s an Adventure. My flights and accommodation in Merimbula were at my own expense.