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.