Year round, although better in the cooler months
Trail heads at the Ben Boyd Tower in the north, or at Green Cape Lighthouse in the south
Trail heads at the Ben Boyd Tower in the north, or at Green Cape Lighthouse in the south
I have been trying to do this walk for a couple of years having read so much about it but I could never quite get the stars to align. For me one of the compounding issues was this was to be the longest walk I had undertaken since injury forced me off the Hume and Hovell Track in mid September 2019 so we/I decided we would walk this 31 km trail in a single day, travelling light and fast. The aim was in part to test out my knee on the biggest single day I had done in a couple of months.
Doing this walk you have two choices. You can start in the north or start in south on this trail. After doing lots of research we decided we would start at the Ben Boyd Tower about 30 minutes south of the township of Eden. Our plan was for Gill to drop me off and I would walk south while she drove down to Green Cape Lighthouse and would then walk north so we could meet me somewhere in the middle of the track and then we woulds walk back to where Gill had left the car. The other options were to take two cars and do a car shuffle, or arrange local transport which at the time of writing this article worked out to be $200 per carload. We decided on the single car option for simplicity.
Around 6.30am we drove to Ben Boyd Tower and after having a look around the Tower, I started my walk south and Gill made her way to the Green Cape Lighthouse car park. By the time Gill arrived at Green Cape Lighthouse and started her journey, I had been walking for just on an hour and had already done around 4.5 km.
The overarching comment I would make on this track is that in heading south you have the ocean within site (or earshot at least) for most of the way until you reach Hegartys Bay. For the remainder of the trip you make your way more inland and occasionally lose contact with the ocean before picking up ocean as you approach Green Cape.
Doing this walk in late November I expected this would be a hot walk and given that NSW in particular was suffering from bushfires there was always the chance the walk may be cancelled before we even started. The weather gods smiled on us with a maximum temperature of around 23°Celcius. Much of the walk as you head south takes you in and out of small green tunnels and so it was a reasonably sheltered and cool environment. It’s only as you reach the southern section of the trail that you start walking in more exposed coastal heathland and you start to feel the heat.
We estimated we would meet at approximately 12:00pm and we weren’t too far off this timing coming together just after 11:30am with both of us walking at a pace of around 4.5 km per hour. After turning around we stopped about 15 minutes later at Hegartys Bay for lunch which had good makeshift seating and shade. And lets not forget the great ocean views. We then headed back on trail for the final three hours back to the car at Green Cape.
The wildlife on this track is different enough from walks I usually do with lots of goannas sunning themselves on the trail – they shoot off into the bush or up a tree when you get to close. I also came across an Eastern Ground Parrot that I had never seen before along with lots and lots of wallabies and one small brown snake towards the Green Cape Lighthouse. Speaking of snakes, there was plenty of ‘snake tracks’ along the trail and had the weather been a few degrees hotter I think we would have seen more than the lone little one we came across.
The vegetation consists of low Eucalyptus forest, Melaleuca forest and low coastal heathlands. Over the 31 km distance you never get bored. The southern half of the trail spends much of the time walking through protected canopy popping out onto beaches and open headlands every so often. As much as I love the ocean I don’t swim unless the air temperature is around 30°Celcius but if you don’t mind the cooler water which is common on that part of the coastline, there are some great beaches where you can take a dip.
We chose to do this walk in a single day and for fit hikers, who know their limitations and are traveling light, this is very doable taking us eight hours including breaks and many, many photo opps. If you want to swim along the way and do this walk as a more leisurely pace, then allow 2-3 days. In all honesty two days would be plenty of time for most hikers.
In talking to Gill about her experience and considering the logistics, I’m glad I started at the Ben Boyd Tower and finished at the Green Cape Lighthouse. Really this is a matter of personal preference but if doing this walk in mid summer and in the same fashion we did then I would probably reverse the direction so you walked the more exposed sections of the track early in the day before picking up more shade in the afternoon; you’re call. I have made some suggestions based on 1, 2 and 3 day itineraries below.
The Light to Light Walk has three camping options at Saltwater Creek, Hegartys Bay and Bittangabee Bay – all except Hegertys Bay have toilet facilities. All the campsites are located very close to fabulous beaches.
As far as navigation goes this track on the whole is very easy to follow. The path itself is self evident although there are some sections coming off the beach where you have to use a bit of common sense to where the track continues as a number of signs have fallen over. Keep an eye out for stairs and obvious points for where the track goes. In addition there are a number of small trees blocking the track in places that require you to walk around but this isn’t too much of an issue.
This has become one of our favourite walks and at some point in the future we are keen to go back and do this as a two day walk and take the opportunity to swim along the way.
Listen to the Light to Light podcast while you read this article to hear our thoughts live from the trail on trail
Toilets at Ben Boyd Tower
Come prepared to pay park fees $8 per day per car. Alternatively you can buy an annual National Parks pass if you spend a lot of time in and around National Parks
Trail head information sign
Wallaby on the side of the trail as we walked the short path to the Ben Boyd Tower. There are lots of these small wallabies along this track
Information signage is scattered along the trail
Ben Boyd Tower. This tower was originally proposed as a lighthouse but became a tower to spot whales in the early 1800’s when whaling was at its peak
Window at Ben Boyd Tower
Gill at the Ben Boyd Tower Lookout
Tim at Ben Boyd Tower. The Tower is not formally part of the trail but is really the starting point of the track and not to be missed
Trail head sign at Ben Boyd Tower car park
Hakea seed pods
Directional signage. The track is easy to follow
Trail signage with the trail logo
Signage provides direction and distances at each major location
The first couple of bays are rocky but soon turn into some great sandy beaches
There were lots of goannas on the trail including this one which was over 1 metre in length – it shot up a tree when it saw me
There are quite a few sections on this track where you feel like you are walking through a tunnel
Wattle in flower
Saltwater Creek Beach. You can swim here as well as access the campground where the bushland meets the beach
Saltwater Creek barbecue area. This campground is accessible by car. If you are walking this track you will need to exit the beach about half way along to get to the campground and toilets
Downed sign. There were a number of these signs that were down along the trail. Sometimes you just needed to look for the obvious location of the trail and there it was
Stairs down to Mowarry Beach
Mowarry Beach just below the headland. You access the beach by a set of stairs
Trail example with lots of ocean views
In flower along the track
Tea Tree in flower
Bottle Brush in flower
Meet up on the Trail. Gill started at Green Cape and I started at Ben Boyd Tower and we met at about the 20 km mark about four hours after I started walking
The end in sight. Green Cape Lighthouse in the distance
Lunch break at Hegartys Bay. This is a nice campsite with great ocean views. The one drawback is that a piece of flat ground is hard to find so you may be sleeping on a slope. There is a small creek just past this campsite heading south but you need to bring a water filter
Hegartys Bay lunch break
Walking across a rock platform
The trail varies with lots of different vegetation types
As you approach Bittangabee Bay you have a couple of choices – you can head to the beach or the ruins but both routes will take you to the Bittangabee Bay campsite
Bittangabee Bay is a beautiful clear bay protected from much of the weather. The campground here is also excellent with barbecues and toilet facilities
Bittangabee Bay barbecue area
Toilet facilities at Bittangabee Bay
Stunning water views at Bittangabee Bay
Stairs south of Bittangabee Bay – while it was very dry when we did the walk, it has the potential to be very wet underfoot here
Another change in vegetation
Clear signage – we had walked 3.3 km from Bittangabee Bay but it didn’t seem that long compared to the final 2.5 km to Green Cape!
Looking back towards Bittangabee Bay
On the final leg heading toward the Green Cape Lighthouse
Ly-Ee-Moon Cemetery turnoff just before you reach the Green Cape Lighthouse. Worth a visit
Ly-Ee-Moon Cemetery contains approximately 70 graves from a historic shipwreck
Banksia flower before opening
At the Green Cape end of the Light to Light Walk – the car park is to the right and the Green Cape Lighthouse is beyond the car park
Approaching the Green Cape Lighthouse – make sure you have time to explore
The trail head is around 36 km from the centre of Eden with some dirt road so allow about an hour to get there. As you head south from Eden follow the signage towards Edrom Lodge and Ben Boyd Tower. Alternatively you can drive down to Green Cape Lighthouse to start this walk
Car park at Ben Boyd Tower
PLEASE NOTE: There is talk of setting up a series of upmarket camps along this track and how this impacts on this walk won’t really be known until some stage in the future.
This walk was undertaken by the team from Australian Hiker
As a one day hike
As a two day hike
As three day hike
On Wednesday 27 November 2019 we will be releasing our podcast recording of our trip