I recently undertook a road trip to Wonboyn Lake near Eden in New South Wales, with my 2 sisters for a girl’s weekend to celebrate my sister’s 50th birthday. She loves this part of the world; it combines her love of photography and whales in a beautiful coastal setting.
Prior to leaving for the weekend there was an expedition to stock up on food for our 2 day break. We bought wine, chocolate, biscuits, lollies, and salty snacks; then we added a selection of salad vegies, fruit, BBQ chicken and chicken kebabs, which improved the look of the shopping trolley and made us feel better about ourselves. There was certainly NO chance of being hungry, either in the car for the next 4 hours, or once we reached our destination.
The resort we stayed at exudes a great sense of peace and serenity. Abundant wildlife and calm clear water, and oyster farms stocked with the wonderful Sydney Rock oyster. It is at the end of a long dirt road, so there is a sense of being the only people for miles around. As we arrived in the dark of night, we were very pleasantly surprised when we arose the next morning and opened the curtains in our lovely unit to see the view before us. We were all keen to enjoy breakfast on the verandah, with accompanying King parrots, magpies, a bower bird and rosellas. The only sounds were birds and the occasional splash of fish jumping in the lake. Peace, serenity, BLISS! I could easily leave my existing life behind and live this one permanently!
Our first day was spent at Green Cape lighthouse, watching intently for the migrating whales as they made their way down the east coast of Australia. We were lucky enough to sight several whales from the lighthouse lookout and from the rocks below. Green Cape lighthouse was completed in 1883 with the light first shining on November 1 that year. Its oil fired lantern could be seen 19 nautical miles out to sea. The complex consists of the lighthouse, the head keeper’s cottage and the assistant keeper’s cottage. It is located 25km south of Eden in Ben Boyd National Park. The cottages are available for rent and are very popular during the peak whale watching season from September to November each year.
Our only oversight that day was remembering the sunscreen but forgetting to pack our hats; this led to sunburnt heads as we stood out in the afternoon sun for a large part of the day.
After leaving Green Cape we took my sister’s sedan down narrow rutted dirt roads to get to a fantastic spot beside the ocean with waves crashing against massive rock formations. Large potholes in the road had filled with overnight rain, and sizeable rocks lay in the middle of the track. This made the drive a little bit tricky, but interesting, as we navigated our way around the obstacles. Overhanging scrub rubbed the side of the car, and my sister made frequent references to possible scratches on the side of the car. We made it to Pulpit Rock where the view was once again fantastic. Down near the edge of the ocean, we were sheltered from the wind which had become a little bit cool. We were sprayed with ocean mist as waves crashed against the rocks. Fish swam in pools of water along with small crabs. We were lucky enough to see a seal cavorting in the water below us.
We also visited the Ly-ee-moon cemetery. This cemetery is where many people were buried when the Ly-ee-moon sank off Green Cape in May 1886. 71 people died, including the mother of Mary McKillop. Most of the graves are marked with white painted rocks. It is a short walk from Green Cape lighthouse. As we walked to the cemetery, the tail end of what appeared to be a copperhead snake slithered into the undergrowth beside the track. We were a little more vigilant for the rest of the day whenever we were on foot.
We returned to our unit at the end of a beautiful day and prepared a meal of chicken kebabs, green salad and potato salad. Along with some lovely red wine, we sat and enjoyed the evening serenity on the verandah. As the cooler night air moved in, we adjourned inside. A competitive game of Scrabble was played while we talked and laughed, drank wine and nibbled on cheese and biscuits. A perfect end to a perfect day.
The next morning was bathed in glorious sunshine. After another al fresco breakfast, we packed up and left for Eden; a half hour drive away. We arrived in Eden mid morning and walked out to the lookout over Two-fold Bay. A fishing boat was making its way back in to port, bright orange against the blue water. We watched for signs of whales or dolphins, along with many other people at the lookout. No luck today though. We walked back to the car and retrieved the esky. The makings of lunch were spread out on a picnic table; leftover chicken, salad, fruit, bread and soft drink. We watched birds swooping and diving around the park as we ate a leisurely lunch overlooking the boats in the bay. All too soon, it was time to pack up and head towards home. But we still had one more stop planned.
Ben Boyd Tower in Ben Boyd National Park was originally built in 1847 to be a lighthouse, but was only ever used as a whale spotting station during the days of whaling in NSW. Ben Boyd was a well known entrepreneur of the day. He also built the nearby Boydtown.
We walked along a short bush track to get to the tower, and then along a boardwalk to the lookout over the southern ocean. Large stones lay in pairs around the base of the tower; unused, aged and forgotten pieces of sandstone. Another beautiful spot to look out over the water and enjoy the peace and calm. Sunny blue skies above us and sapphire blue water below us. We made the decision to come back next year, along with our partners and parents, to do it all again.
And so it was now time to head home. A blissful weekend had ended, but the memories will last.