Kiama is best known for its blowhole. But it has so much more to offer for both the short and long-term visitor.
The Blowhole is a natural rock formation that spouts water up to 20 metres into the air when the seas run from the southeast and conditions are right. Floodlit at night and overlooked by a quaint 19th century lighthouse, the Blowhole is a spectacle not to be missed.
Whales migrate along the east coast during the Antarctic winter from around May to November. They can often be seen from Kiama beaches and headland areas, including Blowhole Point. For a closer experience, Kiama Whale Watch tours operate out of Kiama Harbour. Book through the Kiama Visitors Centre.
Located in the foothills of Jamberoo Valley, the Minnamurra Rainforest is a short 15-minute drive west of Kiama. Begin at the award-winning Visitor Centre then plunge into the rare remnant rainforest via a network of elevated walkways and paved tracks. See ancient trees, cascading waterfalls and spot the resident lyrebirds, eastern water dragons or swamp wallaby. Pack a picnic and make a day of it.
Cathedral Rocks and Bombo Headland
Years of erosion of the volcanic rocks on the coastline at Kiama Downs has turned this part of the coastline into a natural sculpture gallery known as Cathedral Rocks. A similarly spectacular experience can be had by visiting the basalt walls and columns at Bombo Headland.
Kiama was inhabited by the Wadi Wadi people of the Dharawal language group for some 20,000 years. Traces of the area’s indigenous history can be found in midden sites at Minnamurra, Gerringong and Gerroa.
European settlement came to Kiama in the early 1800’s and many buildings of historical significance remain today. One of the first buildings was the post office, opening in 1841. The courthouse followed 19 years later and some 20 years after that the elaborately facaded bank opposite.
Cedar cutting, dairying and quarrying brought wealth and community to the area. Indeed, Australia’s first dairy factory and co-op were established in Kiama. The fascinating Pilots Cottage, built just prior to the lighthouse in the late 1800’s, is now a museum telling the story of Kiama’s rich history.
Gerringong Heritage Centre is also a fascinating visit, with displays and information about the historic flight by Kingsford Smith from Seven Mile Beach.
Visit the ‘working’ Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) Museum for a dose of aviation history, or go back to the era of steam with a visit to the Illawarra Light Railway.
If you’re interested in tracing your family roots, the Family History Centre in Kiama is one of the most comprehensive genealogical centres in Australia.
Drive towards the escarpment from Kiama and you’ll find rural idylls of drystone walls and rustic farms. Interestingly, nearly 400 stone walls in the Kiama municipality have been listed as items of heritage significance.
To learn more, the Kiama Visitors Centre has leaflets available for local Heritage Trail walks.
The best way to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the area is on foot.
Perhaps start with Hoddles Track, a seven-kilometre track from Saddleback Mountain Lookout that takes you into the heart of the lush hinterland.
From the mountains to the coast, try the spectacular Kiama Coast Walk that takes in 22km of stunning coastline. As you wind between Minnamurra in the north and Gerringong in the south, you’ll enjoy lush and rugged headlands, the township of Kiama, Blowhole Point, the Little Blowhole then back to the relative solitude of winding rivers, secluded beaches and pristine bays.
For a shorter walk try the Hindmarsh Park to Spring Creek walk – a favourite with twitchers. It’s a short stroll that takes you to the western edge of town where you can view the rehabilitated wetland area. See how many species of bird you can spot from the Bird Hide.
Or maybe start out at the Blowhole and take a leisurely stroll to Bonaira Reserve – an established rainforest right in the middle of Kiama.
If you’d like to venture further into the escarpment, try the Barren Grounds Nature Reserve or Carrington Falls.
Fishing is one of the most popular pastimes in and around Kiama.
Throw a line in Kiama Harbour to pick up bream and blackfish . Or if you prefer drummer, groper, kingfish, salmon, snapper, tailor or trevally, your best bet is around the rocks.*
Seven Mile Beach is good for bream, flathead, salmon, tailor, mulloway and whiting, while Werri Beach is as good a place as any to pick up snapper and whiting.
Crooked River is known for prawns, bream and flathead and the Minnamurra River bream, blackfish, flathead and whiting – just remember it’s a unique mangrove ecosystem, so netting isn’t allowed.
The Kiama area has six boat ramps located at the Minnamurra River, Kiama Harbour, Gerringong and Gerroa. If you’re heading ‘outside’ you can try for flathead, kingfish, marlin, morwong, mulloway, snapper or yellowfin tuna.
If you don’t have your own boat, a number of local charter operators can take you reef or game fishing. Contact the Kiama Visitors Centre for more information.
* Rock fishing can be extremely dangerous and conditions unpredictable. If you are fishing the rocks, remember to take all necessary safety precautions. If you’re not an experienced rock fisherman, we suggest you stick to the beaches, harbour and estuaries.)
There are nine beaches, two rivers, four ocean baths and a heated indoor pool in the Kiama area.
If you’re a beach-goer, always stick to the patrolled beach areas.
Starting in the north at Kiama Downs is Jones Beach. It is patrolled during the summer mont - but like all patrolled beaches, you should check surf conditions and always stay within the flags.
Bombo Beach also has patrolled swimming (during summer) and surfing spots. It also has an off-leash area for dogs.
There are ocean baths on each side of the Kiama Harbour.
Just to the south, surrounded by parks, playgrounds and barbeque areas, is Surf Beach.
Kendalls Beach is a little more protected and great for young families, with a playground and barbeque area.
Easts Beach is also known as a more gentle, family friendly beach.
Werri Beach in Gerringong is great for swimming and bodyboarding. There is another ocean pool at Werri Beach and one at Boat Harbour in Gerringong.
Seven Mile Beach stretches from Gerroa to Shoalhaven Heads and is patrolled at both ends.
Swimming is also possible in The Minnamurra and Crooked Rivers.
For the cooler months or when conditions are rough, there is also a heated indoor pool at the Kiama Leisure Centre.
Kiama and surrounds has some of the best surfing beaches in NSW - and in the case of The Farm and Mystics, the world. Mystics is renowned in the surfing community for its world class breaks with hollow, fast and powerful waves. Great surfing can also be had at Bombo Beach, Surf Beach, Werri Beach and Seven Mile Beach.
If you’re new to the sport, there are surfing schools to help get you started.
Canoeing, Kayaking and Boating
From Minnamurra, Kiama, Gerringong and Gerroa in the east to Kangaroo Valley in the west, there are many businesses able to get you out and active on the water. Kiama Visitors Centre can point you in the right direction.
Kiama is a cycle friendly area with a variety of cycleways to suit all level of rider.
Of course, the slower the pace the more of Kiama’s stunning scenery you’ll see.
A well-established and welcoming community of riders exists in the region and Kiama BUGS can give you details of their regular outings and suggested paths. If you happen to be without gear, bikes and helmets can be hired in Kiama and Kangaroo Valley.
With three courses to choose from in and around Kiama, you’re not stuck for options.
Kiama Golf Club is an 18-hole, par 66 course sitting between the Minnamurra River and the coast, with a restaurant open for lunch and dinner. Jamberoo (18 holes, par 67) offers rural and mountain views, while Gerringong (18 holes, par 72) sits right on the coast and boasts stunning views.
The Kiama area is brimming with gym, exercise, and outdoor fitness options. With at least seven gym and fitness centres, many options for yoga, pilates, tai chi and dancing, you can maintain your routines even while on holiday. There is even an outdoor fitness circuit from Surf Beach to Kiama Harbour.
NSW’s largest water-based theme park, Jamberoo Action Park, is 15 minutes from Kiama. It has enough rides and thrills to keep the young (and young at heart) happy all day. Open from mid-September to April, it’s the place to go if you want action.
Drive 35 minutes through Jamberoo towards the Southern Highlands and you reach the Illawarra Treetop Walk, the only walk of its kind in NSW. It’s an easy 1.5km treetop walk on a steel walkway taking in native forest and ocean views.
Approximately 40 minutes south of Kiama is a more active treetop experience – Nowra Trees Adventure. Trees Adventure offers two-hour sessions where you can swing, leap, climb and fly through the forest canopy on nets, rope bridges, flying foxes and even airborne skateboards.
Kiama offers a large and diverse range of casual and special dining options. Enjoy fish and chips down at the Harbour or book a table for a special meal at one of the fine dining options – some with ocean views. Choose from seafood, Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Indian, Italian and Mexican to specialty vegetarian, chocolate, cheese, tea and coffee houses.
A walk through any of Kiama’s shopping precincts is a special experience. From the latest in coastal homewares through to fashion, surfware, sport, toys, art and craft supplies, you’ll be spoiled for choice.
Many of the local shops are unique to the area, offering something different to the usual shopping experience. A stroll down the historic terraces and sandstone walk is a world away from the fluorescent lighting of urban malls.
Kiama Seaside Markets are held on the third Sunday of the month from 9am to 3pm at Black Beach with stalls of local arts, crafts and collectables.
Kiama Produce Markets are on the fourth Saturday of the month from 8am to 1pm at Black Beach.
Kiama Farmers Markets are from 2pm to 5pm every Wednesday at Black Beach.
Art in Hindmarsh Park Kiama is the second Sunday of the month from 8:30am.
Made in Kiama Night Markets are on twice a year – June and December from 5:30pm to 9:30pm.
Jamberoo Art and Craft Markets are held on the last Sunday of each month at Kevin Walsh Oval from 10am to 4pm.
Gerringong Village Markets are on the 3rd Saturday of every month at Gerringong Town Hall, from 8am to 1pm.
Gerroa Market Mornings are held three Saturdays a year from 8.30am to 12.30pm.
Wineries and food tours
There are more than 15 wineries in the larger Kiama / Shoalhaven area. Crooked River Winery in Gerringong is a local favourite, as is Roselea Vineyard and Coolangatta Estate Winery.
Local specialty food and wine bus tours are available showcasing everything gourmet the region has to offer. Further information and copies of the Shoalhaven Coast Vineyards and Wineries map can be obtained from the Kiama Visitors Centre.
Weddings, Conferences and Events
From small halls to venues that accommodate 350 people, the Kiama region offers a range of value options for any event. Many of the venues have magnificent harbour, rural or ocean views and the largest and most recent are equipped with state-of-the-art equipment. Contact Kiama Visitors Centre or Kiama Council for more information.
Art, Music, Culture
Such natural beauty is bound to inspire its residents to heavenly heights of creativity, and none more so than the residents of the Benedictine Abbey in Jamberoo. Visit the Abbey to buy decorated candles and cards for liturgical or personal celebrations.
The Boolarng Nangamai Aboriginal Art and Culture Studio in Gerringong is open to the public to see Aboriginal artists at work or to purchase artwork, handmade woven objects or packaged bush tucker.
Kiama has an active and passionate artistic scene, boasting pottery galleries, art societies and galleries, craft suppliers and a Kiama Arts Trail. On the first weekend of each month, you can tour the region’s fine art producers to see the fruits of their labour. See the Kiama Visitors Centre for more information.
Day Spas, Massage and Meditation
There are plenty of options for a short break or day full of bliss. The Visitors Centre can help guide you to your relaxation options.