The Skywhale took a sensational and leisurely flight over the centre of Canberra this morning….
Breaking swells, striking coastlines and twinkling night skies…There’s no other way to rejuvenate the soul than spending four days and three nights completely immersed in nature and completely disconnected from the world. Jessica Schumann shares her experience in Day 3 of the Light to Light walk through Ben Boyd National Park.
Day 3: Bittangabee Bay to Green Cape (9.5km: 11,341 steps)
Feeling a little more exhausted today, my feet don’t want to cooperate as I slide out of the beautiful, Victorian bed that I have called my own for the past couple of nights. But despite the newfound aches, I soak in the rays of sun as it rises over the horizon and allow it to recharge me for the last leg of the 30km walk.
Too nice to stay inside for, I take to the wide verandah of the cottage with breakfast and a cup of tea to warm my soul in the sunshine just a little more. As eager as I am to finish the walk, I know where I would much rather spend the next few hours.
But it’s not to be.
Grabbing a packed lunch and my backpack, I follow the others onto the bus. We’re off again for the remaining 9.5 kilometres that will ultimately return us to Green Cape later this afternoon.
At Bittangabee Bay, Sam starts the morning with another history lesson as we explore the nearby ruins—an incomplete stone building on the shoreline that has remained undisturbed since the 1840s. Listening to him talk, I note that it must have been quite effort and determination to build in this rugged, unforgiving Australian bush.
With so many remnants of early settlers and stories that unravel along the coastline, I can’t help but think that it’s an ideal walk for history buffs.
Movement along the water’s edge pulls me from my thoughts as I realise we’re not alone.
Rather wary of our intrusion, a fierce but timid goanna swaggers across the rocks, its tongue flicking out repeatedly as four sharp claws grasp onto the boulder beneath it.
It scampers away, satisfied there is no threat.
[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.ggpht.com/-dH4PI1cmZyw/U1zE4KRKtDI/AAAAAAAAB38/trFIbecpJKc/s144-c-o/Bittangabee%252520Ruins.png” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108454826374315674707/LightToLightWalk02#6006892472113476658″ caption=”The undisturbed ruins of Bittangabee Bay” type=”image” alt=”Bittangabee Ruins.png” pe2_single_image_size=”w614″ pe2_img_align=”center” pe2_caption=”1″ ]
With the curiousity of our visitor having now passed, the trek along the coastal wilderness begins again. Following the path we disappear into the dry forest, shielding our view of the water. As quickly as it is out of sight, I look up to find we are making our way through a vast open space of heathland spotted with exposed roots and loose rocks. I swing my camera around to capture the views north up the coast as we head back into the shade of the melaleucas.
We stop suddenly.
Sam holds up his hand and I see his fingers begin to rise one by one.
But it takes a few seconds for me to realise what it is exactly that he’s counting.
And then I hear it.
We’ve stopped to listen to a male lyrebird singing his mating call.
(This is where it’s great having a guide, because I probably would have believed I was listening to 10 different birds, not just one.)
The path leads us right by the bush where the lyrebird seems to be calling from, but as they are rather shy and difficult to approach it’s unlikely we’ll catch a glimpse of its striking beauty.
No sooner do we stop for lunch just a few minutes up the path, that the call begins again. My husband, Brad, manages to spot the back of its fanned tailfeathers as it retreats further into the bush.
Today and yesterday seemed to lack in wildlife spotting, with most coming out for show on day one of the walk. Then again it can be the little things that are often the most interesting.
[pe2-image src=”http://lh4.ggpht.com/-cls_kCTjB2k/U1zE4JDP_MI/AAAAAAAAB4E/6jT9cUEKNeM/s144-c-o/Little%252520things.png” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108454826374315674707/LightToLightWalk02#6006892471786667202″ caption=”It’s the little things in nature that can be the most interesting” type=”image” alt=”Little things.png” pe2_single_image_size=”w614″ pe2_img_align=”center” pe2_caption=”1″ ]
Reenergised we leave behind the gurgling creek and set off south once more. The leafy growth changes around us with the path sandy under our feet. Above us the sun beams down but there is no canopy of trees to protect us from its rays only a dry grass plain. In the distance a tower of white awaits us; we power on to the finish line.
It quickly becomes a field of black, having recently endured a wave of backburning but if anything it has only encouraged shoots of new life to push through the charred tree boles. Again, our guide Sam is quick to teach us that this cycle is in fact referred to as epicormic and is stimulated by pruning or, in this case, damage. Seared and singed, the burnt out hollows are dotted with small bursts of colour forcing their way out; a vivid contrast against the blackened heathland.
[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.ggpht.com/-uieBL-PCXqk/U1zK0mTczuI/AAAAAAAAB5o/XqeckzcxFSA/s144-c-o/Epicormic%252520growth.jpg” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108454826374315674707/LightToLightWalk02#6006899007989534434″ caption=”Blackened by backburning, the epicormic cycle has begun…” type=”image” alt=”Epicormic growth.jpg” pe2_single_image_size=”w614″ pe2_img_align=”center” pe2_caption=”1″ ]
Passing the Ly-ee Moon cemetery, a steep loosely trodden path leads us to Pulpit Rock— a sheer rocky platform that is popular with local fisherman. Perched cautiously on a dark boulder, I watch as the waves roll in through the sea caves and blasts up through a blowhole.
[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.ggpht.com/-gf68jRvymLQ/U1zE5YFR59I/AAAAAAAAB4Q/We2IWd4JQp4/s144-c-o/Pulpit%252520Rock.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108454826374315674707/LightToLightWalk02#6006892493001582546″ caption=”The blowhole at Pulpit Rock” type=”image” alt=”Pulpit Rock.JPG” pe2_single_image_size=”w614″ pe2_img_align=”center” pe2_caption=”1″ ]
Circling above the water, a sea eagle hunts for fish but after a few moments it has no luck and glides to the other side of the cape.
Emerging from the overgrown bush, the tower looms just overhead; we have nearly completed the home stretch. The sandy path slowly becomes gravel as we reach the lighthouse carpark and the freshly mowed grass.
But the journey is not yet over.
Dropping our backpacks into our rooms, we quickly freshen up and head to the white tower of light. Heavy and weary, I command my feet up the 116 stairs determined to reach the top. Sadly, the lighthouse is no longer commissioned but the history of how it came to be is and the shipwrecks around Green Cape are rather intriguing.
While we could have climbed the lighthouse at any point throughout the past three days, experiencing its historic presence at the end has made the blisters, mozzie bites and bruises all the more worth the view awaiting me at the top.
[pe2-image src=”http://lh4.ggpht.com/-GY3kKMTJYgY/U1zE5Snau2I/AAAAAAAAB4M/l0ezjmzUvVk/s144-c-o/View%252520from%252520the%252520top.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108454826374315674707/LightToLightWalk02#6006892491534154594″ caption=”The view from the top of Green Cape Lighthouse” type=”image” alt=”View from the top.JPG” pe2_single_image_size=”w614″ pe2_caption=”1″ pe2_img_align=”center” ]
Expansive, sweeping and spectacular are mere words that don’t even come close to accurately describing what I see. But perhaps it is all the more reason for you to escape to the Cape and completely lose yourself in the coastal wilderness of the Sapphire Coast in New South Wales’ far, far south.
What: Light to Light Walk (30km, 3-days)
Where: Boydtower to Green Cape Lighthouse
Who: Auswide (02) 6495 5555.
For more information visit www.greencapelighthouse.com.au