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Dramatic coastline at nearby Ben Boyd National Park
Dramatic coastline at nearby Ben Boyd National Park

Surrounded by gorgeous national parks and spectacular coastline, it’s easy to see why the tranquil town of Eden on the south coast of New Wales is such a popular place for grey nomads to stop.

And the great beaches, great fishing, superb walks, unbelievable whale watching, fascinating history, and genuinely warm welcome ensure that it is a lot more than just a ‘quick, over-nighter’ for travellers. Set in Twofold Bay – the third deepest natural harbour in the southern hemisphere – whaling ships began operating in the area way back in 1791.

To really get to grips with how whaling shaped the area, visitors can hit the Killer Whale Trail and visit places such as the old Davidson Whaling Station and Boyds Tower from where whalers used to first spy the whales swimming by. Back then, killer whales or orcas were used by the whalers to herd the humpbacks into the harbour to be killed. The Eden Killer Whale Museum tells the full story of this amazing era, and its displays include the skeleton of Old Tom, a legendary herding killer whale.

Whales are still bringing people to Eden, but now just to observe the annual migration. There are a number of whale watching cruises offered by local operators, or you can find your own vantage point. The Rotary Park lookout is a favourite spot to view the whales and also to take in panoramic views over Twofold Bay to Mt Imlay. There are rugged cliffs on the coastline to the south, and the wide and sandy Aslings Beach to the north. Snug Cove is the place to watch the fishing boats bring home their catch, and there are many cafes at the wharf in which to relax.

While grey nomads may swell the population in season, Eden has just 3,000 or so permanent residents. However, it has a proud history and flourished during the 1859-1860 gold rush when prospectors would land here, gather supplies, and then head to Kiandra in search of their fortune. Although it no longer serves as a pub, one of the hotels from this era, the Crown and Anchor, which was first licensed as a coaching inn in 1845, still stands. One historic pub that is very much still in business however is the Great Southern Inn, and other interesting buildings include the Court House, the Surveyor’s Office, and St George’s Uniting Church.

As a tourist town, Eden is well serviced with shops, restaurants and, of course, excellent caravan parks, and even a fascinating wildlife park. A little further afield are some great national parks, including Ben Boyd National Park with its superb beaches and rugged coastline, and the heavily forested Mt Imlay National Park. Nadgee Nature Reserve, and the ‘fisherman’s paradise’ of Wonboyn Lake are also within easy striking distance.

Legend has it that the strategically located Eden was once considered as a site to build Australia’s national capital. A whole host of happy grey nomads here are no doubt very relieved that they chose Canberra instead.

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