The New South Wales South Coast is a blend of what I consider to be some of the best qualities of Australia: kilometres of lush green rolling farmland, framed superbly by never-ending spectacular coastline that’s home to some of the most pristine beaches in the country.
The entire region takes my breath away and makes for a brilliant holiday destination. Small seaside towns or charming country getaways; take your pick!
The region is home to so many gems, you’re spoilt for choice. Among the treasures are Jervis Bay, Shellharbour, Shoalhaven, Pambula, the historic town of Tilba, and Kiama, where we based ourselves recently and were yet again spellbound by the region's beauty.
Kiama’s famous white lighthouse stands as a beacon for tourists coming into town. Kiama has a colourful history of dairy farming and basalt quarrying, and the first recorded reference to it was by explorer George Bass who anchored his 28ft whaleboat in Kiama’s harbour in 1797. Many historical buildings are still standing today, like the pilot's museum and the homes of the old cedar-getters, which are operating as funky cafes and craft shops for us to all enjoy.
The name Kiama is from the Aboriginal word Kiaram-a; meaning 'where the sea makes a noise'. As soon as you come into town head for the white lighthouse and you will find the famous blowhole, which is in fact the largest natural blowhole in the world.
Standing in front of it, we were mesmerised by the water thrashing up through the ancient rock. You can see why George Bass described it as a “volcanic fire, with a most tremendous noise”.
Apart from its obvious beauty, as soon as you step onto the 35 acres of grounds that are centred around Easts Beach itself, BIG4 Easts Beach Holiday Park tells the story of our early pioneering settlers in Australia. It is one of the oldest and most historical holiday parks in Australia, turning 80 this year.
But that’s not all there is to this story. The land has been in the same family, the Easts, for more than 160 years, previously operating as a dairy farm.
Pioneering settlers from England, Thomas and Elizabeth East, bought the property a little more than a decade after arriving in Australia in 1841 after a long six months at sea aboard the Earl Grey. Together with their six boys and six girls, they worked tirelessly milking cows and selling their handmade butter.
But over time, the incredible view of the ocean caught the attention of travellers who camped alongside the cows on the farm. Eventually the lure of the holiday spirit won, and under the eye of the couple’s youngest son, Bruce, the farm was officially turned into a holiday park.
Thomas and Elizabeth’s great great grandchildren now run the holiday park. These days, it features a heated resort pool and waterfall, a shaded jumping pillow, and even an on-site café and massage studio, not to mention the beachfront cabins where you can watch the sunrise with your morning cuppa.
Throughout the park, you can see that the spirit of the Easts is well and truly alive.
The Kiama Coast Walk is 22km of breathtaking scenery following the coastline from Minamurra to Gerringong. Of course, you can choose how much or how little you complete, but it's well worth putting your shoes on for.
It also goes straight past BIG4 Easts Beach Holiday Park, which is where we started it, and follows the clifftops overlooking the wild ocean. You certainly know you are alive.
The region around Kiama is not just famous for its coastline. On land, where the rolling farms meet the sea, there is a rising movement of gourmet food and wine producers making names for themselves.
We met Jacqueline, who is the founder and guide, and visited a local farm that operates on the concept of ‘landshare’, where willing landowners offer up plots for the purpose of farming and where the focus is on growing and eating locally. We also visited a top winery, Coolangatta Estate, where we indulged in award-winning wines and a regional tasting platter on the grounds of the first European settlement in the region.
I want to share an absolute treasure. An hour or so south of Kiama is Jervis Bay, a vast blue playground and designated marine park famous for its pristine waters and abundance of wildlife.
We headed out on the water with Dolphin Watch Cruises and it wasn’t long before the local bottlenoses came to say hello. You don’t have to rely on them surfacing to spot them around here, though. They simply swim along under the water beside the boat, and thanks to the crystal clear waters you can watch them the entire time.
Isn’t it time you discovered this piece of paradise? Book your stay at BIG4 Easts Beach Holiday Park in Kiama now and prepare for a memorable break.
For more travel information and inspiration, go to www.placeswego.com