Craning our necks we can just see spot the top of turreted sandstone tower. "It's missing a number of sandstone blocks up there," I exclaim.
"That's the result of a lightning strike in the 1860s," explains Jenny Robb, our clued-up host. "The 23-metre high structure was initially built as a lighthouse by Benjamin Boyd, the 18th century entrepreneur, who planned to base his shipping company at nearby Eden."
Unfortunately for Boyd, his tower was deemed unsuitable as a lighthouse and never commissioned. "Following the collapse of his financial empire, the tower was taken over by whalers who manned daily to alert crews to the presence of whales," explains Robb as we venture inside and peer up at the rickety rungs of the internal staircase which have been locked-off to deter modern-day thrill-seekers.
However, foregoing a short stair climb isn't going to worry us, for we are about to embark on our own calorie-zapping adventure, a 31 kilometre trek south through the east coast's most dramatic coastal landscapes to Green Cape Lighthouse.
Sure, this well-trodden track, aptly named the 'Light to Light', has been a drawcard for bushwalkers for many years, but few have tackled it in the way we are about to. While many hikers spread the trek over two days, we are taking a leisurely three days. And what's more, we are only carrying light day packs because Robb is running ahead of us to set up our camp, complete with portable hot shower (yes, really!) and beds boasting memory foam mattresses and crisp white percale sheets. Not to mention the indulgent three-course camp-side dinner that will be waiting for us. Heck, I'm already salivating.
However, before she heads off, Robb leads us to a lookout just beyond the tower.
"Wow!" gush Des and Kerry Cleary, my two walking companions on their first glimpse of the track south.
With the near millpond waters of the sparkling sea juxtaposed against jagged red, orange and white cliffs for as far as the eye can see, it's a vista to savour. In fact, it's such an expansive view that if you squint hard enough you can probably almost see into the future. Well, ok, at least towards Saltwater Creek, our campsite for night one.
"It's 9am, and we've got all day to cover just 13 kilometres," says Kerry prompting the three of us to make a pact to take every side track that looks remotely inviting.
And it's not long until our first welcome diversion, a rustling noise in the Melaleuca forest adjacent to the track. We stop and listen. Just metres away is a female superb lyrebird scratching for grubs under a rotting log. We sit and watch the stunning songbird for at least ten minutes.
Just beyond the lyrebird's lair we scramble down some rocks to the shoreline. On the eastern seaboard we are accustomed to white sandy beaches bookended by sandstone headlands, but here it's almost as if we've been transported to central Australia, for spread across almost the entire beach is a shelf of red coloured mudstone. In some depressions above the high tide mark lie pools of freshwater – resembling the perched pools on Uluru – and half-way along the beach dozens of small yellow and white boulders sit atop the mudstone. It's as if a marble-playing giant has rolled them here.
Arguably the most remarkable aspect of this walk is the constantly changing land and seascape, and before leaving the giant's marbles the three of us take bets on what the next beach will look like. Des reckons "it's going to be strewn with more white boulders", Kerry thinks "it's probably time we had a sandy cove" while I put my money on a pebble beach.
It turns out that Des is the closest.
Sure, there are boulders, but far from being white, they are grey and covered in a bright orange fungus. It's almost as if our marble-playing giant has dashed down to the nearest Bunnings, grabbed a drum of orange paint, and, with jumbo-sized brush, slapped it on random rocks
Our guiding notes refer to the rocks here at Leather Jacket Bay as "lichen-stained". But we all agree the word 'stained' has negative connotations and does this colourful cove a complete injustice. Fused with coarse sand and backed by tufts of green grass this bay is a photographer's delight.
While Des fills up his camera's first memory card (don't worry, he's brought along lots) trying to capture the orange tide, peckish form the early start, Kerry and I fossick around for Robb's infamous white chocolate and raspberry muffins which she stashed away in our bulging snack packs before we set off.
"Oh they're to die for," gushes Kerry, wiping crumbs from her chin, before telling Des he'd better stop taking photos if he doesn't wants his treat "to go missing".
While I nibble on my muffin (yes, they are as good as Kerry attests), a white bellied sea eagle soars high overhead, searching for its own morning tea. "He won't have any trouble finding any food here," remarks Des, who has clearly read the track notes which articulate "the natural convergence of waters of various temperatures has made this the part of the coast a meeting place for many marine critters".
Winding up out of the colourful cove, we catch several glimpses over our shoulders of Boyds Tower. "We haven't gone far yet," remarks Kerry.
Suddenly, Des spots something through the trees. It's not marked on the map and it's well off the track, but a quick peek through the binoculars reveals a dome-like sea cave. Des needs no encouragement and before you can say 'James Bond', Kerry and I are struggling to keep up with him as he cavorts head-long through the thick bracken towards the lava-tube-like chasm.
"There's no way down into the cave," hollers Des as he stand triumphantly atop the dome.
Although calm elsewhere, the 'thunderdome' as we jointly-coin it, seems to create its own breeze. Thankfully. I grab my trusty Akubra before it's whooshed off into the ether, but Des isn't as quick to respond to the unexpected tempest, and he can do little but despondently watch as his beloved straw hat spirals down and disappears into the far recesses of the cave.
It's gobbled it up. Never to be seen again; or is it?
Only a few hundred metres on, Des is at it again. "Where's he headed now," remarks Kerry as we vainly try to catch-up with him. After picking our way through bracken even thicker that on the descent to the thunderdome, we reach a gaping crevasse on the fractured rock platform. It stops us in our tracks. Literally. "You don't want to fall down there," exclaims Kerry peering into down a vertical 20-metre drop into a partially concealed whirlpool.
"Just imagine the upheavals which created this rock formation" gushes Des as we gaze up at swirls of red, yellow, orange, grey and pink. It's like a rainbow, solidified in perpetuity.
"If you didn't have the time we have, you'd be missing out on all this" explains Kerry. She's right. Sure we've only covered five kilometres in four hours and we know we aren't the first to set eye on the 'thunderdome' and 'rainbow cave', but not marked on our maps and with no one else within cooee each of us revels in the boyish sense of discovery.
Finally back on track we continue our trek south which now skirts along the fringe between heathland and hidden beach after hidden beach.
"Look over there!" shouts Kerry. Near the rocky shoreline are a pod of nine bottle-nosed dolphins.
Sitting on a rock, we watch mesmerised as they entertaining us with their antics for 10 minutes or so, before swimming further south, occasionally doubling back on themselves, as if urging us to follow them, which we do.
Around the next headland is Mowarry Beach, a beautiful white sandy bay, it's shoreline lapped with aquamarine water. Our bottle-nosed dolphin friends have temporarily vanished but left us with the spectacular stretch of sand to ourselves. The only obvious prints here are those of a goanna which we startle sending it scurrying up the trunk of an overhanging tree.
We might be the only ones here today, but large middens on the southern headland indicate the Yuin, the Indigenous peoples of the area, have been feasting here for thousands of years.
Looking back up the coast, we can still make out the top of Boyd's Tower poking above the forest, while dotted amongst patches of green grass, kangaroos lie spread-eagled under trees, enjoying a midday nap. It's like, dare I say it, a Garden of Eden.
What's more it's only lunchtime on Day 1. Things can't get much better than this, can they?
Trek in style: Light to Light Camps offer a number of fully-catered hikes along this iconic track. Arrive each afternoon to a luxury campsite and dinner cooked for you around a roaring campfire. Divine! The tours depart Eden which is a three-hour drove south-east of Canberra. Ph: 0429 961047 or web: www.lighttolightcamps.com.au
Did You Know? To pass the time between whale sightings, whalers rostered at Boyds Tower in the late 19th and early 20th centuries used sandstone slabs to play games on. You can still see a crudely carved out draughts board on one of these slabs near the base of the tower.
Next week: The final in this two-part series on Tim's trek along the Light to Light track.
WHERE IN THE BRINDABELLAS?
Hot off the press, Phillip A Moses' fourth novel Clancy's Hat: the story of Tim's lone journey from Canberra to Kosciuszko and a Special Hat (Echo Books, 2017) struck a chord with this column for obvious reasons.
According to Moses his fictional Tim "searches for his place in modern Australia battling the extreme cold and the harsh terrain, and in his fight to survive rediscovers the Dreaming and myths that formed Australia".
The novel is the culmination of 20 years of research for Moses, which included walking extensively in the Australians Alps. Over the next few weeks this quiz will feature some of Moses' stunning mountain photography (don't worry, there are no photos in the book, so those with a copy of Clancy's Hat won't have an advantage).
Mick Gentleman, ACT Minister for the Environment and Heritage will launch Clancy's Hat at 6pm, Wednesday July 5 at the National Library of Australia. Free and all welcome, but you need to book via www.nla.gov.au/events See you there.
Cryptic Clue: Miles
Degree of difficulty: Hard
Last week: Congratulations to Chris Longhurst of Jerrabomberra who was the first to correctly identify last week's photo sent in by G. Boys as the old railway siding at Jincumbilly, near the intersection of the Snowy Valley Way and Mount Cooper Road near Bombala. The photo brought back fond memories for Longhurst. "As a little kid my old man, who was on the railway, used to take me with him for the day run from Cooma to Bombala," recalls Longhurst, adding "we would stop from time to time at various sidings to deliver shopping or mail and other stuff."
How to enter: Email your guess along with your name and address to firstname.lastname@example.org. The first email sent after 10am, Saturday July 1, 2017, with the correct answer wins a double pass to Dendy cinemas.
CONTACT TIM: Email: email@example.com or Twitter: @TimYowie or write c/- The Canberra Times, 9 Pirie Street, Fyshwick. You can see a selection of past columns online.