Kiama

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Kiama Blowhole
The Blowhole at Kiama is just one of many beautiful sights there Pic: Destination NSW

The town of Kiama on the south coast of New South Wales is synonymous with one iconic attraction … the blowhole! As the southeast ocean swells pound into a natural rock formation on scenic Blowhole Point, seawater spouts spectacularly 20 metres or more into the air.

The awesome natural spectacle is one of the biggest of its kind in the world and draws visitors by the thousand … and the lesser-known Little Blowhole is 10 minutes down the road, as well. But there’s more to Kiama than blowholes.

The coastal town, 120 kilometres or so south of Sydney, is blessed with stunning beaches, distinctive volcanic rock formations, incredible walking trails, a fascinating history, interesting buildings, a great tourist infrastructure … and a relaxed seaside vibe.

While tourism is now a major driver of the local economy (the permanent population of 13,000 trebles in summer), Kiama originally boomed due to strong demand for rocks from nearby quarries. From 1876 onwards, its harbour was hollowed out to allow larger steamers to enter and the sea trade flourished.

Today, the harbour is home to fishing boats and a seafood market where visitors can buy local fish. The town is full of examples of rich architecture from its prosperous past. There’s the 1887 lighthouse at Blowhole Point, and the Pilot’s Cottage Museum also on the headland near the blowhole.

Most grey nomads though are inevitably drawn to Kiama’s Historic Terrace Houses on Collins Street, which were originally built for the local quarry workers in 1886 and now house a unique selection of crafts, collectables, and eateries.

As a major tourist mecca, the town is blessed with a good selection of caravan parks, alfresco cafes, restaurants and shops. There are also some great events to enjoy, and these are headlined by the Kiama Jazz and Blues Festival.

To get an overall perspective of the area’s stunning beauty, a trip to Saddleback Lookout, which sits on top of Saddleback Mountain 7km southwest of town, is a must. There are wonderful views over the Illawarra Plains and south to Nowra, Pigeon House Mountain and Coolangatta Mountain.

However, to really get up close and personal with nature, the Kiama Coast Walk is another must. Beginning at Minnamurra, the 22-kilometre walk weaves past headlands, rivers and beaches to Blowhole Point, before pressing on towards the beautiful bays and beaches around Little Blowhole and the rolling escarpments of Gerringong.

For visitors looking to escape the coast for a while, the splendour of the Minnamurra Rainforest is a drive of just 20 minutes or so away, and a little further away are the spectacular 50-metre Carrington Falls.

To sum up, Kiama has got pretty much anything a grey nomad could want … and it’s got a big blowhole, too!

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