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Ben Boyd National Park

Thursday, August 26, 2010
Dermott Brereton joined ranger Craig Dickman in the 10,000 hectare Ben Boyd National Park on the south coast of New South Wales near the little town of Eden.

The National Park was named after Benjamin Boyd who was a prominent 19th-century south coast entrepreneur. He wanted to make the area the capital of Australia. Construction of Boydtown began in 1843. A lighthouse, church, 90m jetty, brick houses and shops and an Elizabethan-style hotel were all built.

Whaling and the related oil extraction process at Twofold Bay were established and Boyd saw potential and added them to his list of enterprises. He paid low wages and found labour hard to find. He imported Pacific Island natives as a source of cheap labour in 1847, but most of them returned home.

Boyd overreached himself, and with the added problems of drought, everything imploded and in 1849 liquidators ceased operations. In October of that year he sailed unnoticed out of Sydney Harbour. He did leave a few things behind that didn't go unnoticed, and they are part of local history.

The 30km walk Dermott and Craig took started at Boyd's Tower and led to the Green Cape Lighthouse. If you want to spend a couple of days doing the walk there are two campgrounds — Bittangabee and Saltwater Creek.

Boyd Tower was built in 1847 and was meant to be a lighthouse, but money ran out and it was left as it was. The 20m-tall tower is surrounded by the ocean on three sides. It was built from Pyrmont sandstone and the workmanship is outstanding.

Davidson Whaling Station is on the shores of the Kiah Inlet at Twofold Bay. It was the longest operating shore-based whaling station in Australia and closed in 1924.

The Davidsons purchased Boyd's incomplete tower and used it for whale spotting. These days it is a more palatable historic site and gives an insight into the lives and industry of 19th-century whalers. It's one of the best places to whale watch and take in the scenery.

The 1883 Green Cape Lighthouse was the first cast concrete lighthouse tower in Australia and is the southern-most lighthouse in the state. It rises 29m and originally used a revolving kerosene lantern radiating light that could be seen for a radius of 34km. It was electrified in 1962 and is has an automated steel skeleton tower with solar powered light. The original lens and mechanism are still in place.

Saltwater Campground is close to the ocean and lagoons, making it the more popular of the two in the park. It's a good idea to book ahead as there are just 10 sites for camping and four for trailers.

There are picnic tables, wood and gas/electric barbecues, non-flush toilets and water comes from tanks. The campsite location is stunning. Around halfway along the track it is surrounded by national park, red rock cliffs and lots of wildlife.

There are lots of back-to-nature activities — hiking, swimming, surfing and exploring the national park in wonderful fresh, gum-scented air.

Related: Jervis Bay splash & sizzle

Location

The south coast of New South Wales, 30km from Eden.

Cost

Ben Boyd National Park camping at Saltwater Creek costs $10 for adults and $5 for children. There are tents and trailers available. There is a charge of $7 a day or an annual $22 pass for vehicles.

Prices correct at August 26, 2010.

For further information

Ben Boyd National Park
Ph: (02) 6495 5000
Fax: (02) 6495 5055

Merimbula National Parks & Wildlife
Ph: (02) 6495 5000
www.environment.nsw.gov.au

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