Enjoy the laid-back lifestyle of this NSW favourite.
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