Compared to the familiar tried and tested staycations found closer to Sydney, the road to the Sapphire Coast is far less travelled. Located nearly 500 kilometres from the state capital on New South Wales’ south-eastern border, only the tiny regional airport of Merimbula offers a faster alternative to driving here. However, for those who are prepared to go those extra miles, the reward is a place of other-worldly beauty; crimson cliffs, dramatic waves and vibrant, shifting landscapes where unspoilt nature is your playground.
Exploring the Light to Light hiking trail through Ben Boyd National Park, between the Boyd Whaling Tower and the Green Cape Light Station, is an ideal way to become aquainted with this dynamic wilderness. There are several campsites along this 31km route – either powered and plumbed, or off-the-grid – so you can take a more leisurely pace over several days as you trek through primaeval coves of rust-red rock, dense tea-tree thickets, fauna-filled forests and coastal heaths fringed with wildflowers and sandy crescents.
Although manageable for most reasonably fit walkers, the saw-tooth terrain is not always the easiest amble, and lugging a pack full of camping clobber can quickly turn into a gruelling mission. So, if you’d rather leave the tent-pitching to professionals, the team at Light 2 Light Coastal Walks are happy to do the heavy lifting for you.
While not quite all-bells-and-whistles enough to compete with the most luxe end of the glamping spectrum, there’s easily enough sophistication on offer to set it apart from your average campground bunk-down. On this three-day guided and catered walking holiday, the Light to Light trail is broken into carefully curated chunks so each day’s hike arrives back at the same fully prepared campsite, at the secluded beachside grounds of Saltwater Creek.
The accommodations are relatively simple yet comfortable, with a spacious tent that can host one or two occupants, complete with plush camp beds, thermal mattresses and plump, downy pillows. The camp’s basic facilities are supplemented by additional pop-up mod-cons, including outdoor showers, a powered kitchen and an alfresco dining area. As most of the day is spent out on the trail, this base of operations is relatively spartan, but while some aspects may be no-frills, there's luxury here where it counts.
The gourmet-calibre meals hero the wealth of culinary producers and makers who call this part of NSW home; there’s succulent seafood caught off the docks at Eden, cheeses galore from Bega and Tilba’s famous dairies, and beef and lamb reared on the grassy slopes near Pambula. Hearty sandwiches, hand-made trail mix and home-baked cakes keep you fuelled-up on the hike, and nothing rounds out a day spent marvelling at the monster breakers of Pulpit Rock or discovering the intricate nests of bowerbirds by Bittangabee Bay like arriving at camp to find a perfectly chilled glass of wine or a local craft beer waiting for you.
Except, perhaps, a platter of fat, briny Sydney rock oysters, the area’s most prized export. Some of the most fertile and high-yield oyster estuaries anywhere in the country can be found here, as well as ideal conditions for wild abalone, which also find their way onto Light 2 Light’s menu, hand-foraged en route where possible.
Run by Cam Read and his partner Tess Miller, there’s a personal touch in the thoughtful details of Light 2 Light’s three-day itinerary that bigger operators would be hard-pressed to match. Your guides will not only show you the way but also share their experiences and insights on the abundant wildlife – expect to see wallabies, roos, possums and iguanas, as well as sea eagles, cormorants, rare hooded plovers and yellow tails overhead.
You'll also learn about the area’s fascinating history, including the whaling that first attracted European settlers here, and the practices of the local Indigenous communities, the Thaua and Bidawahal people of the Yuin Nation. Much of this coastline is completely untouched by modern civilisation, so it’s possible to stand on these shores and gaze upon a vista that looks as it must have to the ancestors of today's Yuins, who have been the custodians of the land here for thousands of generations.
Read and Miller wear their passion for nature on their sleeves, and after spending three days with them, it's impossible not to see the bush anew, through their eyes. With backgrounds in bushland management, conservation and native botany, they're serious about sustainability and an emphasis on responsible camping underpins their business. To protect the local water-table, for example, showers must be taken au naturale, without contaminating soaps, and a strict leave-no-trace policy means you won’t find any single-use plastics during your trip. These ecological ethics are just another way Light 2 Light encourages its guests to engage with the landscape in conscious and compassionate ways.
The final day of the tour brings you to the tip of the Sapphire Coast at Green Cape – the most south-easterly point in Australia – and the gleaming white tower of the now decommissioned lighthouse overlooking Disaster Bay. Between May and November, huge pods of orcas and humpbacks migrate past here, with some of the best whale watching opportunities in the country found at Green Cape Lighthouse. As the final point on the Light to Light trail, treks typically conclude at the lighthouse grounds. However, for an additional charge, the refurbished 19th-century lighthouse cottages here can be your base instead of the campgrounds at Saltwater Creek, with Light 2 Light’s daily itineraries adjusted accordingly.
A three-day guided tour, including all meals, accommodation and airport transfers if required is $895 per person, or $1,095 per person if you choose to stay at the lighthouse cottages.