En­joy the laid-back life­style of this NSW favourite.

Caravan, Camping and Holiday Parks with Kids - - Contents -

Y ou haven’t been to Kiama on the NSW South Coast un­til you’ve been ‘blessed’ by its fa­mous blow­hole, drenched by the huge plumes of sea­wa­ter that shoot sky­ward through an an­cient rock shaft. Of course the boom­ing blow­hole (Kiama is ac­tu­ally Abo­rig­i­nal for ‘sea noise’) doesn’t shoot gey­sers ev­ery day but on the day we peered into its mys­te­ri­ous depths, we were well and truly ‘blessed’ by Kiama’s charm, as were dozens of other soggy tourists!

Nes­tled amongst im­pos­si­bly green hills that tum­ble to the sea just 90 min­utes from Syd­ney, this pic­ture-post­card beach town makes an ideal des­ti­na­tion for fam­i­lies seek­ing lazy, hazy days of sun, sand, sea and surf with lots to see and do.

Dried off and with the town­ship’s num­ber one draw­card ticked off on our must-see list, we headed to our hol­i­day base five min­utes away – the equally pop­u­lar Big 4 Easts Beach Hol­i­day Park that hugs Kiama’s pret­ti­est stretch of sand. Tucked into a beau­ti­ful, ver­dant val­ley, the park is one of the big­gest in Aus­tralia – boast­ing over 550 sites and more than 60 vil­las and cab­ins – but it’s also one of the most idyl­li­cally sit­u­ated hol­i­day parks in the coun­try, fronting gor­geous and pro­tected Easts Beach and framed by rolling farm­land munched on by con­tented cows.

The park was orig­i­nally a dairy farm es­tab­lished by English set­tlers, Thomas and El­iz­a­beth East, in 1850. By the early 1900s, the East fam­ily al­lowed vis­i­tors with tents, drawn by Kiama’s blow­hole and Irish-like scenery, to camp on the farm for one shilling a night, with cold show­ers, a pit toi­let and fresh milk and but­ter thrown into the deal. To­day, guests at the 14-hectare, re­sort-like park are pam­pered by deluxe sea view spa vil­las, a la­goon pool, Jacuzzi, jump­ing pil­low, ten­nis courts,

play­grounds, café, camp kitchen, wire­less in­ter­net and even a mas­sage stu­dio – and the show­ers are pip­ing hot! A kids’ ac­tiv­ity pro­gram of­fers movie nights, craft work­shops and a kids’ disco.

Our deluxe, two-storey spa villa, with a mas­ter bed­room and bunkroom for the kids, of­fers a stun­ning view of the beach, a mere 10 me­tres away. Two bal­conies in­vite you to just sit and drink it all in, es­pe­cially in the morn­ing when the sea sparkles at the end of our bed. At night, a sky­light above the spa bath al­lows you to lay back and see stars. And of course there’s no bet­ter sleep than when you are ser­e­naded all night by the rhyth­mic sound of waves lap­ping the beach.

Big 4 Easts Beach Hol­i­day Park sits on the Kiama Coast Walk, a spec­tac­u­lar coast-hug­ging trail lead­ing south to Ger­ringong that of­fers fam­i­lies the chance to roam across open mead­ows with spec­tac­u­lar ocean vis­tas along the way. But we’re af­ter a faster way to ex­plore the coast – on a Seg­way. For the unini­ti­ated, Seg­ways are in­trigu­ing, self-bal­anc­ing, two-wheeled elec­tri­cal trans­porters that are in­cred­i­bly fun to ride. Just lean for­ward and you are whisked ef­fort­lessly for­ward up to 20km/ h.

A new op­er­a­tor, Seg­way Tours South Coast, of­fers 90-minute guided tours through Kil­lalea State Park at Shell­har­bour, just north of Kiama. Af­ter a short les­son on how to ma­neu­ver the high-tech Seg­ways, which are worth around $11,000 each and suit­able for chil­dren 12 and over, we’re off down the hill, around the swan-filled la­goon and fly­ing along the surf beach, pro­vid­ing a unique thrill that you’ve got to ex­pe­ri­ence for your­self. Our teenage daugh­ters now want one to get to school!

More ac­tion is in store the next day when we line up for the adrenalin wa­ter rides at nearby Jam­beroo Ac­tion Park. The lat­est draw­card is the Fun­nel Web, a gi­ant, en­closed wa­ter­slide that shoots you into an enor­mous, roller­coaster-like fun­nel be­fore suck­ing you back into a dark tun­nel. My wife and I scream like lit­tle kids and our teens shriek with laugh­ter. Per­fect for a sum­mer’s day, the park of­fers lots of wa­ter­slides for all ages and an ex­cit­ing wave pool and in­land beach.

We slow the pace the next day with a na­ture-themed adventure to Min­na­murra Rain­for­est, where walk­ways snake through sun- dap­pled, sub­trop­i­cal rain­for­est filled with wa­ter­falls, lyre­birds, wa­ter drag­ons, lush ferns, rock or­chids and an­cient fig trees. Fur­ther up the Illawarra Es­carp­ment, we en­joy a dif­fer­ent view of the rain­for­est from the breath­tak­ing Illawarra Fly Tree­top Walk where spring­board can­tilevers, el­e­vated walk­ways and a spi­ral tower take you high above the val­ley.

The wind­ing, rock-wall-lined roads around Kiama are per­fect for a scenic drive, with jun­gle- clad hills, rolling farm­land, tiny ham­lets and sea vis­tas com­bin­ing to pro­vide a sen­sory feast. Count­less car ads have been filmed in Kiama’s hin­ter­land.

Back amongst the Nor­folk pines of Kiama, the sea­side air calls for a clas­sic serve of fish and chips. We am­ble through the Kiama Sea­side Mar­kets and dur­ing our stay also visit the new-look Kiama Leisure Cen­tre with its in­door pool and great school hol­i­day pro­grams. But our great­est thrill is be­ing able to fling open the door of our beach­side villa at Easts Beach and be wad­ing into the surf sec­onds later – just magic!

01 E a s t s B e ac h Ho li da y Pa r k

01 The rolling green hills of Kiama 02 Jas­par re­laxes on the Big4 Easts Beach villa ve­ran­dah 03 Fam­ily fun with Seg­way Tours South Coast 02


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