Light to Light Walk.

The Light to Light walk is a 30 km (one way) route that hugs the coast in Ben Boyd National Park. The Park is on the very far south coast of NSW and near the town of Eden. Being less than 100km to the Victorian border, Eden is a “bubble town”, that is in these times of COVID, special rules apply because people in the area do business with both states. I was back in Eden unexpectedly as my Great Southern Road Trip plans were disrupted because of a COVID lockdown in Victoria. This meant I needed to scurry very quickly back to NSW or risk not being able to get into Tasmania.

Remnants of burnt trees at the Tower end

Start either end.

The walk can be tackled from either end. The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service recommend it as a multi-day walk and there are several campsites along the route. They also offer a shuttle service so you can park at one end and start from the other. You can see their website for information about this.

A few days ago I did a 16 km there and back walk from the Green Cape Lighthouse to Bittangabee (Bit-tan-ga-bee) Camp Ground and today because of the change in circumstances, namely Victoria being in a 5 day snap lock down,  I did the a 20 km there and back walk from Boyds Tower. I have therefore done the two ends but not the middle sections in a pincer movement of sorts!

The walk is rated as a Grade 4 because of its length. The track is well made, mostly loose sandy soil but also some harder rocky sections. 

Green Cape Lighthouse

From Green Cape to Bitangabee

It was a cloudy, cool start to the day which was perfect for a longish walk. The goal was to get to Bitangabee and back before lunch time. With frequent photo stops, the return walk took me around 3½ hours.

Open Heathland near the Green Cape lighthouse

There are frequent waymarkers and the track map is also available on AllTrails,  although I could not find it on ViewRanger. 

From this end the track runs through coastal heath land with lots of twittering birds. I saw flashes of a greenish parrots which disappeared into the ground cover and I presume these were the vulnerable eastern ground parrot. Aside from this I also saw a small marsupial perhaps a potteroo, a wallaby, some lyrebirds, black cockatoos, bugs of various sorts and plenty of wildflowers. 

The track was a fair distance from the ocean and although there were a few ups and downs it was more or less level.

Boyds Tower to (just past) Mowarry Beach. 

On this leg, which came as an unexpected treat due to enforced changes to my holiday plans, I decided to do ten kilometres (or 3 hours whichever came first) out and then return. I was not really sure where this would get me but I thought 20 km was enough for one day. It was a much hotter day and the sky was mostly clear. 

Boyd’s Tower

Boyds Tower, built in 1847,  is a rather elegant sandstone structure that was never actually a lighthouse. Although built with the intention of being a lighthouse,  permission was never granted  and it ended up being a whale spotting tower instead. I guess Light to Light sounds much more poetic than Light to Whale Spotter! 

The track  is still relatively flat and sandy  but this area was devasted by the January 2020 fires and the ecology of the bush land, greatly changed. Catherdrals of tea-tree are burnt out remnants, weeds have taken over and there is very little shade for the first five kilometres. However on the bright side, if there could ever be a bright side to these climate change induced fires, is that the reduced vegetation has opened up expansive views of the ocean and the rocky foreshore. 

Haven for Geology Lovers

And oh what a foreshore! Geology nerds get down there! There are massive, varied colored layers of sedimentary rocks with easy-to-see folding,faulting and tilting. The base layer (or rather the lowest layer you can see) is a rich rust red with a lighter grey-green layer over it. The red is more friable than the greenish layer and there are deep cut outs where the waves have eroded the material. 

As part of the walk you cross several rocky beaches and a striking beach aptly called Red Sands Beach has small smooth red pebbles rather than sand. Mowarry Beach on the other hand has soft, squeaky white sand. The water by contrast is clear and either deep sapphire blue or ultramarine in areas where it has a white sandy bottom.

Mowarry Beach

I saw and heard fewer birds in this section of the walk but did see three large goannas and lots of locusts and dragonflies. 

There was a small asymmetrical daisy-like flower which was a haven for bees and butterflies and it seemed to be benefitting from the lack of tree cover. 

As this section had been so fire affected many of the waymarkers were missing or badly burnt and I needed to refer to the AllTrails map a few times to confirm the direction as there were some other criss crossing paths. 

Fees, toilets and that sort of stuff

Unless you already have an Annual NSW National Parks and Wildlife Park Pass, you will need to pay the park use fee of about $9 per day. If you intend on camping there are also fees for this and bookings are essential.

On the northern walk there were toilets at the Tower but no others along the route. From the south end there were toilets at the Lighthouse and then again at the campground at Bittangabee. You might want to think about carrying waste bags with you. 

You can stay at the Lighthouse (like I did) which is lovely for prices ranging from $125 – $400 per night.

There is no fresh water available for day use or campers so make sure you carry plenty. The National Park website is a good source of information.

If I had known I was going to have some extra time in this area I would have planned to do the whole walk. 

The views are certainly worth the effort!

Stories from the Great Southern Road Trip: Part 1: It’s raining, I’m camping.

Steady rain is falling on the roof of the tent. It makes a peaceful sound as I sit here typing, surrounded by the plastic storage tubs filled with my camping gear.  The air is still and there is only an occasional puff of breeze to ruffle the polyester. I’m dry and I’m content. Big drops turn into even bigger drops on the green roofing fabric. They can only get to a certain size before gravity overcomes surface tension and they slide off. This leads to the need for a MacGyvered dam system to re-route the said water. It seems to be holding, and for the most part the vestibule area of the tent is staying dry too. Mental note to self:  next time you set up the floor tarp, make sure it does not extend beyond the perimeter of the tent. Let the ground soak up the drops. 

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I did have a walk planned for today but it can wait. I’ll call this an official rest day, a perfect day to do the washing. A perfect opportunity also to do some writing and get ahead on the bank of blog posts. 

A different sort of holiday

This extended holiday is a little different to the last few I have taken. In 2019 I went to Scotland, in 2018 New York and in 2016 – Canada. There were my trips to Israel (6 times), Thailand, the US (twice) Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Vietnam. Ten years ago I had my 50th birthday in France. And even further back, Burma and Italy.

I had always planned to stay in Australia for this trip, nominally a celebration for my 60th birthday. Continuing concerns about COVID and travel bans have meant that my decision back in 2018 was prescient. More recently border closures in Australia have meant even this “local” trip was uncertain. 

I’m also camping which is a very different mode for me and my car has become my turtle shell carrying everything I need. Knowing me, probably way more than I really need! 

Traveller’s eyes

It’s not only the distance travelled that is different, it’s my attitude. I don’t have to worry about language, or exchange rates or jetlag or keeping track of my passport. There is no chance of Bali Belly. Still it’s more than these logistical things. Unlike these international destinations which I will probably never get to again, there is a chance for me to come back and revisit places I miss on this trip. I don’t have to move like a whirlwind to “make the most” of the air fare. I can take my time, relax a little and not wear myself out. That’s a change.

On the other hand, I am finding it hard to get my “photographer’s eye in” and  to look at things like a traveller. Scenes and vignettes that would catch my eye elsewhere seem ordinary. I need to change that. I need to take on the persona of someone new to this continent. 

Are wombats less exciting than Scottish red deer? 

Here’s a case in point: I remember being wildly excited at Knocken Crag when, after rounding a corner on the hiking trail,  I came within a few metres of a red deer. Luckily I had my camera in hand and managed to get an in focus shot before it bounded away. 

Compare this to my recent encounter with large wildlife. At Green Cape Lighthouse there was a huge wombat grazing on the lawn near the cottage I was staying in. I’ve seen fat wombats before and walked on by. My interest was raised only by the excited chatter of some Chinese (?)  tourists who stopped and exclaimed in amazement. I told them it was a wombat. They asked if it would bite and could they pat it. That question made me rethink. I wasn’t sure if wombats did bite but I suggested they didn’t pat it. I felt a bit guilty that the wombat went unphotographed. Thankfully wombats are not as swift as deer and I managed to capture an in focus image. 

My challenge now is to cast aside the veil of familiarity and get excited about the little things and the fat wombats!

Wombat eating grass

That’s one big wombat!


More stories from my Great Southern Road Trip will follow. This is just a warm up. They’ll be prepared on my iPad so the formatting will be a bit dodgy. The SEO will be tackled later!

PS: about an hour after publication, the Premier of Victoria declared a snap 5 day lockdown. I had to quickly pack up my wet tent and get back into NSW. I Am not sure now what will become of my road trip! 😕

The (Un)official Ethan Hawke Film Festival.

Last week I flopped on the couch looking for something to “decent to watch” on Netflix.  I settled on  Juliet, Naked, a rather clever 2018 comedy starring Ethan Hawke and Rose Byrne.  It was light and funny with an interesting premise and I  thoroughly enjoyed it. Ethan plays an old(ish), craggy, has-been rock star. His clothes are as messy as his life and his character has real depth.

I would NEVER describe myself as a movie buff and I can get halfway through a movie before exclaiming “oh yeah, I’ve seen this before”. My memories of Ethan Hawke movies are patchy and I couldn’t remember seeing Ethan in anything else. A quick Wikipedia search showed he has an impressive and extensive back-catalogue dating way back to 1985 reminding me of Hugh Grant’s long list of achievements. It turns out I have in fact seen at least two of his movies.

How to avoid endless scrolling

Last year, during the early stages of the Pandemic, when we were ALL locked in, I announced the (Un)official Hugh Grant Film Festival. Rather than randomly scrolling through Netflix looking for something “decent to watch”, I set myself the challenge of watching as many of Hugh’s movies as I could. The good, the bad and the ugly. The procurement of titles was in itself a challenge. I searched op shops to find DVDs, borrowed a few from the local library, borrowed some log-ins to subscription services I don’t have, in addition to the ones I had on Netflix or could rent on Apple TV. Over two months, I watched thirty of the more than fifty titles in his anthology. Pretty good I think! I have now exhausted all the movies I could find in Australia at least.

File:Ethan Hawke 66ème Festival de Venise (Mostra) 7.jpg - Wikimedia Commons
As I am not a Hollywood photographer this is not my image!
Photo Credit: nicolas genin from Paris, France

Impressive back catalogue

Ethan’s back catalogue represented a similar opportunity for a challenge and I am officially launching the (Un)official Ethan Hawke Film Festival!

After Juliet, Naked I  re-watched Dead Poet’s Society which, after 32 years remains a classic and relevant story.  Next, I devoured the critically acclaimed Before Series; (Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight) a trilogy spanning 18 years both in real-time and in the plot. It traces the life of Jesse and Celine (Julie Delpy) who meet on a train in their early 20’s and follows them up nine years later and then again in another nine years in their early 40’s.  There is very little action other than long, rambling and intimate conversations between the two leads. Sounds boring, but it is fascinating and so well played. If you are going to watch the series, do it in order and resist watching the trailers. Too many spoilers!

A mixed bag of goodies

Unlike Hugh, Ethan has escaped being suffocatingly typecast and he has played a wide variety of roles. In addition to acting, both on stage and for the big and little screens, Hawke has written screenplays and several novels. Looking at his Goodreads profile he appears to have a very handy side hustle narrating audio books too. He has also made a number of documentaries.

Although nominated for plenty of awards he has won only two. A Critics’ Choice Award for the Before Series and an Independent Spirit Award for First Reformed.

So tonight it will be Gattaca, I’ve seen it a couple of times before having used it as a teaching aid when trying to get Year 10 interested in genetics and DNA codes. There is only one tiny sex scene you need to skip!

That will be five down and only eighty (80!!!!!!!)  more to go! I’ve got three months off work so it might be just the thing for my upcoming Great Southern Road Trip. It can be the (Un)official Travelling Ethan Hawke Film Festival.

If I have any energy left after that I might branch out and read his novels! 

Wish me luck!

File:Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, red carpet for the premiere of "Before  Midnight".jpg - Wikimedia Commons
With Before Series co-star, Julie Delpy. Photo Credit: Thore Siebrands

PS: Since writing this post and before publication, I have now watched Training Day, Taking Lives and Boyhood, all good! Training Day with Denzel Washington is suspenseful and violent, I watched much of it though my fingers! Denzel won the Oscar for Best Actor for this one and Ethan, while nominated for Best Supporting Actor, didn’t take home the trophy. Boyhood is another long term project and follows the same actors over 12 years. It’s almost a documentary.

PSS: Add to the list: Adopt-A-Highway! OMG such a lovely, sad, poignant story with a happy ending! Once again not much action and Ethan is in every scene. That must be hard work! Why has this guy not won an Oscar???