October 4, 2008

Kiama - where the sea makes a noise

After a wonderful time in Blue Mountains – it was now destination – Kiama -. The drive was breathtaking though mostly I slept.

Rain and cloudy weather tried its best to play spoilsport but the high spirits in me ensured the spoilers didn’t blemish my trip.

Kiama is a well-known and much-favoured coastal resort located 120 km south of Sydney via the Princes Highway. It is characterised by dramatic rocky coastline, sandy beaches and an attractive harbour. The hinterland behind the town is dominated by lush green dairy pastures, and rolling hills which were once clad in dense subtropical forests.

I went around looking for history of Kiama. I read that the area's original inhabitants, the Wodi Wodi Aborigines, are said to have called the place 'Kiarama-a' or 'Kiar-mai'. The meaning is usually given as 'where the sea makes a noise', although 'fertile area', 'mysterious spirit' and 'plenty food: good fishing ground' have also been suggested.

I had only a day with me to explore Kiama. After a scrumptious Thai red curry with rice to ease my hunger – went to find the most obvious place - the Blowhole. Still the town's greatest attraction this sea-cliff cavern will always offer some kind of display but the really spectacular 'blows' only occur when the wind and water are coming rather precisely from the south-east. On those occasions waves roar explosively through a hole in the cave-roof sending spray up as high as 60 metres and down over the carpark.

But on the day I visited it was playing hide and seek. Near the blowhole is the 15-metre lighthouse, opened in 1887 on George Bass Point after a considerable death toll had occurred on the rocky coastline. It was converted to electricity in 1969 and extends its beams to a distance of 27 km. Once attended by a lighthouse keeper it has long been automated.

Just down the hill from the lighthouse is the Kiama Pilot's Cottage and Heritage Centre, the residence of the local harbour pilots from 1881 to 1981. The building is typical of the country cottages designed in the office of the colonial architect to house public officials

On either side of the harbour are two attractive rock pools. The one on the northern side was built in 1888. Its location was determined by indecency laws which forbade bathing in public. The southern rock pool can be spectacular when the sea is rough. I wanted to have a swim but backed out after I realized that the water was cold and I didn’t know how to swim.

But two of my travel mates – a 12 year old handsome Saahil and a nine-year old naughtiest amateur magician – Eshaan had one of the best times in water.

There is a walking trail – the Kiama walking trail clearly marked with large blue-and-white posts. But I gave it a miss as it was time to return to Sydney.

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