You may have heard of Kiama. A picturesque coastal town, just a few hours south of Sydney, with great waves, a scrumptious ice-creamery and a big ol’ blowhole.
But there’s more to the Kiama area than just a single town. Stretching along the coast from Minnamurra, down to Gerringong and Gerroa and out to the hinterland of Jamberoo, the Kiama area’s packed with unique places to explore.
I chatted to a bunch of Kiama locals to find some inspo for my next adventure to the coast, and figure out exactly what makes the region so inviting.
Co-founder of Stoic Brewing, Gerringong
Andrew’s a born and bred Gerringong boy, who opened up the first local brewery in town, Stoic Brewing, with his old man.
‘You can see my childhood home from the brewery,’ Andrew tells me.
The small town of Gerringong, just a 15 minute drive south of Kiama, is known for its rolling green hills and epic surf. But it’s the slow and steady pace of his hometown that’s kept Andrew around.
‘It’s not as fast down here. I moved to Sydney for seven months, five years ago. It’s just a little too quick for me up there’, he said.
Who can argue with that?
Once it’s open again, hit up the brewery and share a schooey with the whole Stoic team!
Stoic Brewing’s favourite local adventure;
A historic track that takes you from the bottom of Saddleback Mountain to the top of Foxground and beyond.
Best time of year to go: Spring! Keep a lookout for native birds
Duration: 2 hrs
Skill Level: Intermediate
Co-Director of the Kiama Jazz and Blues Festival
This year’s Kiama Jazz and Blues Fest was a foot stomping, hip-swinging success, and that’s very much in part to co-director, Tom Oxley.
‘It’s an annual festival and it’s all free. We always have over 80 performances from 45 artists. This year we had a record festival. We absolutely packed the town,’ Tom tells me.
Tom and his family moved to Kiama from Sydney in 2012 and have whole-heartedly embraced coastal and community living. And they get outside as a family as often as possible.
The Oxley family’s favourite local adventure;
Kayaking the Minnamurra River
Best time of year to go: Autumn! Fewer crowds, but the water’s still warm
Distance: However far you can paddle!
Skill Level: Beginner
‘Launch from the Minnamurra Boat Ramp, that’s a pretty special spot. That takes you up into some pretty still waters suitable for families. It starts getting a little bit tighter as you go further up, but it’s definitely a great day out.’
Co-founder of Fern Street Gallery, Gerringong
Needing more space to create her art, Gitte and her husband made the coastal shuffle from the city to the sea four and a half years ago. And she immediately became involved in her new found art community.
‘After we moved here I very quickly became very active within the art space. I was excited that there was such a great art community down here,’ Gitte tells me.
At the end of 2018, Gitte co-founded the Fern Street Gallery with her friend and fellow artist Kerry Bruce, which has become a central feature of the town’s main street.
When she’s not in the gallery, Gitte and her husband love to get down to the water.
Gitte’s favourite local adventure;
Seven Mile Beach
Best time of year to go: Autumn! The water’s still warm and there’s more chance you’ll have the waves to yourself.
‘Seven Mile Beach is one of my favourite places to go. It’s great when Brett wants to surf and I want to walk.’
Attraction Manager at Illawarra Fly Treetop Adventures
Located at the top of Jamberoo Mountain and overlooking the Kiama hinterland and coast, the Illawarra Fly’s a great way to get your eye across the entire Kiama area.
Andrew started working at the Illawarra Fly as a zipline guide back in 2014, and last year became the Attraction Manager, which he bloody loves. I mean just take a look at him!
‘For those wanting to do something a little bit different, we have the zipline tours. On average you’re about 20m above the ground, and then you’re zipping and walking through the tops of the trees all while harnessed in. It’s a pretty unique experience’, he said.
Andrew’s favourite local adventure (besides the Illawarra Fly of course);
Kiama Coastal Walk
Best time of year to go: Winter! Whale watch from the headlands as the humpback whales make their annual migration
Distance: up to 20km – it’s up to you! There are various, easy access entry/exit points
Duration: depends on how far you choose to walk
Skill Level: Beginner/Intermediate
‘For me it’s probably going down to Kendall’s Beach, and then taking a walk over the escarpment and to the little blowhole, going for a swim at the beach and making a trip along the coast to Surf Beach.’
President of the Gerringong SLSC
As a passionate Gerringong local, Richard’s not only a proud father of three daughters and the President of the Gerringong Surf Life Saving Club, but also organises the local nippers. So naturally, he’s a big advocate for the local community – not to mention the beaches.
‘It’s hard to beat the view when you come down Mt Pleasant and see the beach. There are the valley and the hills and you know you’re home. I’m biased, but I think it’s probably the best view on the eastern seaboard.’
With three active daughters on his hands, it’s not difficult to get the whole family out into the bush together.
The Payne Family’s favourite local adventure;
Griffiths Walking Track
Best time of year to go: Spring! Check out the gorgeous wildflowers in bloom.
Distance: 8km loop track
Duration: 2.5-3.5 hours
Skill Level: Intermediate
‘Barren Grounds that’s a fantastic walk. When the kids were young, that was a pretty easy walk to do, it’s all pretty flat. But then you can look across Saddleback Mountain and you can see from Wollongong basically all the way down to Nowra and all the coastline.’
The Kiama area’s about more than just picture perfect beaches (although they don’t hurt). The close-knit communities along this scenic stretch of coast, rolled together with the lush hinterland, create the perfect place to recuperate in nature after spending your fair share of time indoors.
Feature photo thanks to Destination NSW