Eden (population 3,040) is the southernmost port of NSW located on the far south coast region known as the Sapphire Coast. Perched on the edge of Twofold Bay, the third deepest natural harbour in the southern hemisphere, Eden historically prospered in whaling, fishing and agriculture. The township was laid out by Thomas Townsend in 1843 and locals celebrate its unique whaling history, which saw men and killer whales work in tandem to capture baleen whales.
Today, Eden is a sleepy coastal town renowned for being one of the few places in the world humpback whales feed on their southern migration in spring. The Killer Whale Museum even sounds a siren when whales are spotted. Calm waters and open ocean access make it the perfect viewing platform to watch these massive creatures, as well as dolphins, seals and penguins. There are several vantage points on land, too. Bounded by national forest and ruggedly beautiful coastline, Eden is abundant in nature trails, spectacular coastal scenery and surf beaches.
Eden's town centre comprises one low-key street populated by modest shops, eateries, a local gallery, supermarket and pub. One street away is the stunning coastline and boardwalk leading to Aslings Beach. Grassy areas, parklands and the crystalline blue ocean waters are never far from sight.
The Sapphire Coast region, stretching from Bermagui in the north to the Victorian border in the south, is an untouched wilderness with some of the best national parks, lagoons and seas in which to explore its dynamic marine and bird life. Kayaking is a popular pastime, as is bird watching and hiking. The area is also home to a burgeoning artisan food and wine scene with oysters a specialty. Bega is famous for its cheese; Pambula for oysters; and deep-sea fishing town, Bermagui, for its yellowfin tuna and marlin.
The Port of Eden is located about 500 metres northwest of the town centre. The passenger terminal is on Imlay St, Eden. Transport to the port is now by tender but this will change mid-2017 once the port redevelopment is complete.
Eden and the Sapphire Coast have undergone a transformation of sorts, with grower's markets, festivals and unique nature-based adventures on offer. The Visitor Information Centre, located on Mitchell St near Imlay, has information on attractions, tours and special events, including self-guided walking tours.
Eden Wharf has a number of eateries, some with Wi-Fi. Cat Balou Cruises depart from here, too.
Rips can be dangerous to swimmers. Most beaches are unpatrolled or only patrolled in summer.
From Eden Port
Cruise lines usually offer a shuttle service to the centre of Eden. Taxis are also available. The local bus service runs morning and afternoon and there is a bus stop on Imlay St near Eden Wharf. It takes about 20 minutes to walk this uphill section on foot.
On foot: Eden is mostly flat, compact and fairly easy to navigate on foot.
By bus: Sapphire Coast Buslines, run a limited timetable morning and afternoon Monday to Friday (routes 790 and 791) looping through Pambula, Merimbula and Tathra and ending in Bega.
By taxi: There are two taxis available that can be booked by calling (02) 6496 1180. Taxis are metered and equipped to accept credit cards.
The local currency is the Australian dollar. ATMs can be found on Imlay St, in the main part of town.
English is the official language.
The Sapphire Coast is a gourmet food trail with a bounty of fresh seafood, dairy and meats. Cuisine ranges from Mod Oz to ethnic options, and local produce features heavily on the menu. Be sure to sample the locally farmed oysters. In addition, the region is home to a couple of boutique wineries and the aforementioned craft nano brewery.
Wharfside Cafe: This place has free Wi-Fi and is the place to sample oysters and fresh local fish and seafood. (253 Imlay Street; open daily 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.)
Great White Bite: Great White Bite does a roaring takeaway trade in bacon and egg rolls, burgers and fish and chips. (253 Imlay Street; open daily)
Devonshire Tea: This is a mainstay at the boutique Seahorse Inn Hotel. On Twofold Bay, expect breathtaking views as well as a varied lunch menu of gourmet and local seafood options from Brassiere, their casual bistro. (Lot 1, Boydtown Park Road; 02 6496 1361; open daily for lunch from noon to 2 p.m.)
In town, Great Southern Inn -- 2014 "Sydney Morning Herald Good Pub Guide" two-schooner winner -- serves up 300 g steaks, seafood and cold brews on a back deck with sweeping ocean views. (158 Imlay Street; 02 6496 1515; open daily)
Spout Eden: Down the road, Sprout Eden is a local produce store and cafe that has Kahawa Estate coffee and a varied menu of blackboard specials, sandwiches and cakes showcasing local and regional produce. Serves are generous using pesticide-free ingredients and there's a good selection of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free dishes along with local jams, preserves and chilli products for sale. (134 Imlay Street; open daily until 4 p.m.)
Just a 90-minute drive north of Eden is the Bermagui Fishermen's Wharf -- a modern two-storey waterfront retail and dining complex. After a spot of shopping, grab some lunch at one of the cafes and restaurants lining the water.
The Sundeck: The Sundeck has great Campos Coffee, cocktails and seafood fresh from the boats daily. Next door to the Fisherman's Co-op, Blue Wave Seafood does a great takeaway fish and chips. Order the deep-sea marlin or yellowfin, a specialty of the area and settle in to watch the boats. (73-79 Lamont Street; open daily 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
Mimosa Winery & Drystone Restaurant: This small-batch winery has a cellar door and adjoining fine-dining restaurant serving organic, regional produce. In summer enjoy wood-fired pizzas on the terrace. Just 90 minutes' north of Eden in Bermagui. (Corner 2845 Bermagui/Tathra Road; open daily, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the high season, Thursday to Sunday only in the low season)
Merimbula Aquarium & Wharf Restaurant: Dine lakeside at Merimbula Wharf. Thirty minutes' drive north of Eden, this multi-venue aquarium (daily from 10 a.m., fish feeding at 11 a.m.) and restaurant is fully licensed and serves contemporary Australian cuisine with a focus on local seafood and oysters in a stunning 180-degree ocean view setting. (Lake Street, Merimbula; open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
Wheelers Oyster Farm: This institution, which has been around for more than 80 years, has daily oyster tours, a gift shop, restaurant and takeaway. (162 Arthur Kaine Drive, Pambula; open daily 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
From T-shirts, to snow globes and stuffed toys, it's all about whales in Eden. The Visitor Information Centre has a wide selection, along with general souvenirs and gifts.
For a unique souvenir, Art on Imlay (open daily, 9 am to 5 pm in summer and 9 am to 4 pm in winter) has local and indigenous art, craft and photography.