It’s early morning at Bittangabee Bay and the sun is bright
The North-easterly sea-breeze is building and waves crash into the rocks below. The sounds and salty scent take me back in time…
Crashing swells become surging waves lifting a ship’s bow. Twisted, interwoven melaleuca trunks and branches around me creak and groan. They sound like straining rigging; sails passing the load through tarred rope to wooden pulleys, all suffering the winds relentless pressure. I’m transported to the deck of a coastal clipper, leaving Boydtown with Monaro wool and Eden timber, bound for adolescent Sydney.
Reality intervenes and my rumbling stomach reminds me lots of calories have been burnt over the last few days, with nothing yet this morning to replace them.
There’s eight of us, two families, doing the Sapphire Coast’s 30km Light to Light walk for the first time. Hoping for a genuine – but manageable – family adventure, with a good dose of nature and outdoor fun along the way. Bittangabee is day three on the track and we’ve had all the above.
Our walk starts at Boyd’s Tower just south of Eden. Built from massive blocks of Sydney sandstone in 1847 as a lighthouse and then used as a whaling lookout it stands as a monument to Scottish pioneer and entrepreneur Benjamin Boyd.
Heading off through shady melaleucas it seems we’re slightly over-packed and under-prepared. Everything from toes upwards adjusting to the weight of back-packs. The track compensates with breathtaking coastal views and we pass picturesque Leatherjacket Bay; arriving at grassy Mowarry (christened No Worry) Point for the night.
There’s groans all round from the pack-horse parents as we unload. The kids, with suspiciously high energy levels, skip off to explore. It’s early summer but already hot and dry and we need to replenish water supplies that are almost gone.
The water diviners arrive back with a meagre supply, heavy with sediment and complete with its own ecosystem. Roland our resident scientist assures it’ll be fine after a double whammy of purification tablets and boiling. It’s better but still more chowder than consommé! We gave most of it to the kids disguised as hot chocolate after dinner!
Lying together in the tent we wake to a sunny morning, and chirps, whistles and tweets from plentiful bushland birds. Camp disappears into backpacks and we walk on.
In a stretch of coastal heath, the boys surprise an adult and three small fox cubs sunning themselves, one bold cub lingers only metres away. Nice animals (unless you’re a bandicoot) but unwelcome here. We make a mental note to let the rangers know although the kids have reservations. Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox is a family favourite, we have a certain fondness for “the three small foxes.”
With very little water left by lunchtime we reach picture-perfect Saltwater Creek campground and its welcome water tanks. Packet salmon snacks previously shunned for school lunches are hungrily devoured; salami almost causes a fight.
After Saltwater it’s spectacular clifftop walking with a white breasted sea-eagle for company. It slides and dips effortlessly through the buffeting wind. At our Bittangabee camp I grab my fishing rod and head down to the ocean rocks. Many casts later, contemplating fish curry without fish, a sizeable Australian salmon grabs the lure. It’s converted into two glistening fillets.
Fresh chilli, onions, garlic and curry paste; a lime, brown sugar and coconut powder appear from our mobile larder and soon a fragrant curry simmers. Add some travel weary green beans and chunks of fresh salmon. Dinner is concentrated quiet, interspersed with appreciative slurps.
Day three is easy walking through coastal heath, studded with wildflowers and flowering banksias. Just before the Green Cape lighthouse, in a grove of melaleucas, we pass the Ly-ee-Moon cemetery. Seventy-one people died here in 1886 when the steamer hit the rocks one wild May night. Not a place to lose your torch on a dark night says one of the kids.
The track ends at the lighthouse, a scene of dazzling white buildings framed by deep blue sea. It’s like a small village at the end of the world. After 3 days walking this grand destination has a sense of achievement and finality. Our woo-hoo is whipped away, cartwheeling downwind toward the pristine and rugged wilderness of the Nadgee coast and the prospect of another south coast adventure.