I left the beaches of Wollongong and I felt a creeping bit of weariness. From Wollongong, I decided to pop into the small town of Kiama. Kiama is just a bit further down Australia’s South Coast, and it’s tiny. In fact, I didn’t anticipate that the coastal towns of New South Wales are quite so remote and lightly developed. In my hometown of Florida, nearly all of the state’s habitable coastal land is developed. Here, it’s a very different vibe and a fun discovery that I wasn’t expecting.
As I traveled throughout more cities, I discovered that Kiama is the quintessential charming South Coast “town.” This tiny town claims a single main street and one major tourist attraction: the Kiama Blowhole.
The town sits right on the water, abutting the breezy waves and rocky shoreline. Besides a grocery store, church, and the dozen or so cafes catering to the tourists visiting the Blowhole, there’s just not much else. All of this is quite cozy and cute. But at the same time, there still weren’t many other backpackers. I didn’t find any in Wollongong, and with just one other backpacker here in Kaima, I wonder if I should have stayed a bit more on the backpacker route.
One of the best parts about landing in Sydney was the city’s traveler culture. It’s a backpacking hub and I made instant friends with whom I could sightsee and explore. That is proving a bit harder here. I’ve not crossed into being lonely yet, but I do wonder when I will next find some fun new friends I can travel with for a bit.
Quaint is the single description I can come up with for Kiama. And like the rest of Australia, Kiama is about ten years behind the rest of the world in internet access. I had trouble finding reliable connections even in Sydney, so this has become laughable in a town like Kiama. I was hoping for even a dialup connection because wifi wasn’t even remotely possible.
Perhaps this town has made little investment in internet because it’s a pass-through town. With only the blowhole as the tourist attraction, most travelers pass right through. That would have probably been wise for me, too. My hotel was so-so, and I was the only one sleeping there. When I got to my hotel and saw the state of things — no internet and no friends — I faced a bout of loneliness when I arrived, and I pondered if I should have booked myself on some of the Aussie backpacker tours. Those are very popular, even of the less inhabited South Coast. Instead, I sucked it up and decided that exploring Kiama would get me out of my funk.
Between the downright chilly (this is summer right?!) but fresh sea air and an entire mint Aero bar (by far one of my favorite chocolate candy bars that you just can’t often find in the US) I was feeling a lot better and able to enjoy this undeniably charming town.
What’s It Like: The Kiama Blowhole
Tops on the list — and the only touristy thing to do — is a trip to the Kiama Blowhole. The Blowhole is located right on the rocky waterline, and it forms as a result of air pressure building up as waves crash into a cave. When the waves come rushing into the cave, the water spurts out of the hole and high into the air. It’s mesmerizing and meditative to sit nearby and listen to the crashing waves. Though some tours come through, it’s fairly laid back and void of people.
The next morning, I discovered that on the third Sunday of every month there is an artisans and crafts market on the waterfront. A slew of petite tents and stalls popped up from the sidewalk and dotted the long sidewalk around Kiama Bay. The local vendors and crafters peddled their wares. I wandered the stalls. I munched on freshly roasted almonds and warm croissants. I dodged strollers and children while perusing some of the handmade crafts.
The town was thoroughly enjoyable, and a sweet little stop. But, without internet access, I headed further along the South Coast after one night in town. And the loneliness of the previous past week mostly alone had me hoping that the next town had other backpackers staying at the hostel.
Quick Tips: Visiting Kiama Blowhole
I used a Australian Lonely Planet to navigate the transport options between all of the South Coast’s small towns. There are a lot of places I could have visited, so I used my guidebook to pick the towns and cities that had an interesting vibe. I am also logging all of the trip details on my Australian Travel Guide — this includes activities, food recommendations, and where to stay. This is also very possible as a day trip from sydney since the train runs to Kiama.
Where: South of Sydney on the South Coast of NSW, Australia.
How: You can rent a car or take the train. Buses also run to Kiama, but you’re better off with one of the other two options. It’s just 2.5 hours by train from Sydney to Kiama Station, and the Blowhole is walkable from the train station. If you’re driving, Kiama has plenty of street parking.
What to Do: Make a full day of visiting the Blowhole, then eat lunch at a charming cafe. If you like shopping, there’s a good bit of that too. Go with traditional cafe fare, or try some truly tasty Vietnamese food. The artisan’s market runs on the third Sunday of the month, and a farmers market takes place on the fourth Sunday of the month,
Where to Stay: This is a popular daytrip for Sydneysiders, but some stay overnight as well. The Grand Hotel Kiama is a very budget, basic hotel option, and the Sebel Harbourside Kiama Hotel is lovely with harbor views and is a bit pricier.