KEEP­ING WATCH

FAS­CI­NAT­ING HIS­TORY, STRIK­ING NAT­U­RAL BEAUTY AND WORLD-CLASS WHALE WATCH­ING HAS PUT THE COASTAL TOWN OF EDEN, NSW, ON THE MAP.

Country Style - - JOURNEY - WORDS BAR­BARA SWEENEY PHO­TOG­RA­PHY AB­BIE MELLE

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.

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