On the drive south of Sydney, just past the turnoff to Kiama, there’s a section of meandering road where if you look to your left you’ll see an undulating expanse of grassland that slopes down into the sea. My impulse to go wandering into this unique green landscape has been strong ever since I started road tripping as a teenager with a fresh license. But that section of the now 22km Kiama Coast Track only opened in 2009, as it was predominantly private land.
Despite the whole coastal track being achievable in one long day’s hike, we decided to extend the adventure over two days, with camping in between at Kiama – famed for its natural ocean-meets-rocky-coast blowhole – but loved by me for its crystal beaches and eateries like Neptune Cafe.
Tent pitched and snack-filled backpacks on, we boarded the train bound for Minnamurra. Minutes before arriving, we could spy through dry branches patches of an aquamarine cove from the train window. These short paradise glimpses were a tease of what was to come on Day One of our Kiama Coast Track journey…
Alighting and heading slightly north-east through a suburban street, we found the beginning of the walk a few minutes later at a small length of beach beside the Minnamurra River. This first grassy stretch of headland offers a glimpse at the diverse wildness of the walk – long green pathways along jagged cliffs, slowly swelling ocean with flocks of birds flying high, and Rangoon Island rising from the water, a little natural wonder of the south coast.
Cathedral Rocks is one of the standout landmarks on this chapter of your journey – a postcard rush of rocks and seabird altars holding steady against the swirling waves. According to one of the many signs along the walk, these latite rocks are “remnants of the edge of a lava flow that has been eroded by the sea” and have been a visitors attraction since the 1820s.
Past further beaches and rock pools filled with waterlogged vegetation, you come across William Boyd Reserve, named after a local legend surfer who was ‘King of the Boneyard’. We were somewhat cautious after a sign stated how great it is that due to conservation efforts, red bellied black snakes had returned to the area. They are one of Australia’s most poisonous snakes. Before you freak out though, wide access to anti-venom means that snake deaths have become extremely rare in Aus. And brown snakes are worse. Feeling better? Let’s continue…(and no, we didn’t see any snakes – just a Saturday party down by the little pebbly beach where the floatie-to-Aussie ratio was high).
The last leg of Day One of the walk winds beyond the rock theatre that is Bombo Headland and the long beach that follows it. You’ll then stroll over clusters of pebbles or scabrous rock shelves filled with water mirrors – the ocean always to your left – until you reach the wharf at Kiama town.
Our day ended with fish and chips.
What’s your favourite coastal walk in Australia?