FASCINATING HISTORY, STRIKING NATURAL BEAUTY AND WORLD-CLASS WHALE WATCHING HAS PUT THE COASTAL TOWN OF EDEN, NSW, ON THE MAP.
ESKIMO LANGUAGES HAVE many words to describe snow; it’s texture, composition and the way it falls. About 180 words, if you’re counting. It seems a luxury, and a little unfair, to have so many nuanced words at your disposal to describe a weather event when faced with a scene of such beauty as Twofold Bay, at the town of Eden on the south coast of NSW. The bay is one of the deepest natural harbours in the world and the defining characteristic of this fishing, timber and former whaling town. It feels a national embarrassment that Australian English only delivers up one word to describe the colour of the water: blue. A deep, rich, intense blue. For those born and bred in Eden, the water is their livelihood and playground. Even after living here for 36 years, seasoned tour guide Jenny Robb can’t believe how casual the locals are about the natural beauty that surrounds them and the bounty they can pull from the sea. “They post pictures of their catch — two abalone and a crayfish say, on Facebook. People would pay for that experience,” she says. Some, like Scott Proctor, have turned their local knowledge to advantage. Scott learned the aquatic arts from his dad and jokes he could snorkel before he could walk. Like most around here, he knows where to find fat, juicy oysters and mussels, the best spots to dive for abalone and sea urchins, and the most likely inlet in which to drop a pot for crays — knowledge he shares on the ocean-to-plate snorkel tours he leads. Jenny is also in the business of showing visitors around: she leads kayaking trips on the Towamba River at Kiah, south of Eden, and runs the Light to Light Camps, where you do the walking and she organises the heavy lifting. “The future is tourism,” she says. “There was a period at the end of the 1990s when we lost jobs in fishing and forestry, then the fish cannery closed, taking 147 jobs with it. That makes a big dent in a population of 3000. But things have changed and there’s a real sense of pride in the town now.” What’s fuelling this sense of buoyancy is growing awareness of Eden as one of the best spots in the country to see the annual east-coast whale migration: during winter, these sleek beasts make their way from Antarctica to tropical northern waters to mate and give birth, returning south at the end of spring. “Humpbacks mostly,” says Rosalind Butt, co-owner of Cat Balou Cruises, which runs whale watching tours. “We’ve seen orcas only about 20 times in as many years.”
CLOCKWISE, FROM TOP LEFT The spiral staircase inside Green Cape Lighthouse; the lighthouse cottages are a great place to take in the views; lunch at Sprout Eden café; the courtyard at bar, Dulcie’s Cottttage; kangaroos are often spotttted around Green Cape Lighthouse. FACING PAGE, CLOCKWISE, FROM TOP LEFT Drift bar is a great place to watch the sunset; boats line Eden Wharf; baker, Todd Wiebe, of Wild Rye's Baking Co; on-site at Merimbula Gourmet Oysters with Dom Boynton; Merimbula's Bar Beach Kiosk; one of the cottttages at Green Cape; overlooking the beach at Merimbula; a range of delicious burgers are available from the 'caravan kitchen' at Dulcie's Cottttage.