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Could overlooking the Minnamurra River
Photograph: Peter Izzard Photography Minnamurra River

Romance on the coast: ten ways to cosy up in Kiama this winter

An idyllic cool-season escape with exhilarating coastal views is just a short drive south of Sydney

By Time Out in association with Destination Kiama
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Kiama’s ancient volcanic rocks, fizzing blowholes, undulating green hills and prehistoric rainforests are all part of the beautiful traditional lands of the Dharawal and Wodi Wodi people. Take a quick 90-minute drive (or a slightly longer, but stunning, ambling train ride) south of Sydney and you’ll find yourself in the perfect location for a romantic winter getaway. Follow our tips for exploring this secluded hub of beach fun, nature walks, arts, food, drink and rejuvenation. 

Kiama Little Blowhole couple
Kiama Little Blowhole couple
Photograph: Destination NSW/Tim Clark

1. Take in some natural wonders

Is it even a trip to the Kiama area without experiencing the spray of seawater from one of their famous blowholes? Boasting heights of up to 30 metres (on an ideal southeasterly wind and swell day), the Kiama Blowhole is a wheelchair-accessible wonder to behold. Alongside its smaller counterpart (the aptly named Little Blowhole) you can marvel at the super soaker-like activity of the 260 million-year-old lava formation – watch wind and sea swell pushing plumes of water into the air through holes in the rock. Both blowholes can be seen along the Kiama Coast Walk, a stretch of paths and bike tracks that hugs 20 kilometres of seaside. Never fear, the walk can be broken into three manageable tracks and boasts only the gentlest of hills. Wrap up your natural-wonder sightseeing with a peep at the gothic tangles of Cathedral Rocks, a photogenic rock formation just three kilometres north of Kiama.

The Hill restaurant
The Hill restaurant
Photograph: Courtesy the Hill Bar and Kitchen

2. Try the area’s delicious eateries

The former head chef at Ottolenghi Belgravia in London, Emily Herbert, has opened a café and delicatessen, Otis, in Kiama. Start your day with shakshuka (baked eggs with tomato, chilli and capsicum) and other Middle Eastern-inspired salads and pastries. Then gain an appreciation for Kiama’s farmland surrounds by swinging in to a lunch or dinner at Silica, a beachside restaurant that uses locally sourced and homegrown produce to create inventive plates like braised pork neck with tomatillo, peach and purslane. Make sure you also drop into El Corazon, a Mexican restaurant with plenty of tasty tacos, enchiladas, fajitas and burritos plus a range of mezcals and tequilas to wash them down with. Just craving a burger? Stacks Burger House is where local premium-grade grass-fed beef goes into the patties. For a leisurely graze with exceptional views head to the Hill in Gerringong and meander down south to Gerroa for a cute little eatery with bold flavours, the Blue Swimmer. Checkout the Kiama Dining Guide for more. 

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Stoic Brewing Kiama
Stoic Brewing Kiama
Photograph: Mark Fitz Photography

3. Unwind over a quiet drink

From casual drinking holes to robust local vineyards, the Kiama area has an abundance of venues where you can enjoy a quiet drink with your beloved. Hop over to nearby Gerringong where your options include a scenic winery and a family-owned microbrewery. Crooked River Wines is the largest vineyard on the South Coast and boasts award-winning red and white wines; you can sip your way through their offerings at the cellar door or grab a quick bite at the restaurant, taking in the property’s soothing ocean and mountain views. Stoic Brewing is another Gerringong gem; make sure you drop in for one of their handcrafted beers or ciders or to sample some wines (they recently introduced growlers too for all your holiday takeaway needs). Back in Kiama, drop by café-wine bar Bouquiniste – you’ll never be short of a conversation topic here as it’s also a bookshop. The other options come sundown are plentiful – sample a delicious cocktail from contemporary French bistro Yves at the Sebel, or enjoy a wine with a side of live music at Art Bar Kiama

 

Kiama Farmers market
Kiama Farmers market
Photograph: Destination NSW/Tim Clark

4. Hit the shops and markets

If your ideal weekend is spent perusing tables laden with local wares and farm-fresh produce then you’ll be spoilt for choice in Kiama. Head to Surf Beach every Wednesday to buy goods directly from local growers and artisans. At the Farmers Market you’ll find everything from delicious cheese from a nearby dairy to local Wagyu beef. If you’re after covetable quirky objects and cute clothes, the Kiama Boutique Shopping Trail brochure has got you covered with a map of all the beachy and eccentric shops you need to visit. Seeking to surprise your better half? The Wildflower Studio can provide a stunning floral arrangement or gift hamper. 

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A woman in a floatation tank
A woman in a floatation tank
Photograph: Jon Harris Photography

5. Explore wellness options for two

Take some time out from eating and looking at beautiful landscapes and take advantage of Kiama’s health and wellness options with your significant other. If you’re looking for some meditative stretching head to Emergence Yoga on Kiama’s main drag for one of their drop-in classes, or take your tired bones to Gerringong for some rejuvenating pilates at Body in Line studio. Keep the self-care train going with a soothing body wrap or organic facial from Endota Spa. Kiama also has its own floatation centre, Coastal Float, where you can enjoy the physical and emotional benefits of an hour in a sensory deprivation tank. Cap your visit off with a few salty laps at one of the area’s exceptional ocean pools, treat your muscles to a dip at the Blowhole Point rock pool, or gaze out at the rolling green hills fringing the secluded Boat Harbour pool in Gerringong.

Carrington Falls Kiama
Carrington Falls Kiama
Photograph: Chilby Photography

6. Discover ancient rainforests, coastal walks and sweeping views

Explore the ancient Minnamurra Rainforest in Budderoo National Park with a stroll along the elevated walkway through giant trees and magical streams. See where the Kangaroo River plunges 50 metres down into a gully at one of the Carrington Falls viewing platforms, and enjoy a sanga in the eucalyptus forest of the Nellies Glen picnic area. The Kiama Coast Walk can be enjoyed as an epic journey or a short saunter – we’d recommend the middle section from the Blowhole to Loves Bay, which is about 90 minutes and five kilometres of beaches and headlands, with the Little Blowhole halfway along and the possibility of seeing dolphins out at sea or even whales (May to November). For an aerial perspective of the entire Kiama area, head to the Saddleback Mountain lookout – the perfect vantage point for surveying the stretch of coast from Cronulla to Milton.

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Humpback whale breaching Kiama
Humpback whale breaching Kiama
Photograph: Lachlan Hall

7. Watch some whales

Few sights are as inspiring and romantic as the spectacle of a whale breaching, spouting or lobtailing just off the shoreline. Nature’s gentle giants are migrating in their thousands up the mid-NSW coast from May to November – mainly humpback and southern right whales but also sperm whales, minke and sometimes even blue whales. In winter, keep your eyes peeled for these majestic sea creatures at one of the area’s whale watching platforms in Minnamurra and Gerringong, and also at Black Head Reserve, Blowhole Point, Kiama Harbour and Bombo Headland.

Beach at sunset
Beach at sunset
Photograph: Peter Izzard Photography

8. Make the most of the beach

The Kiama area’s nine pristine beaches are just made for winter strolls; Seven Mile Beach in Gerroa is your go-to for bush-fringed seclusion along a 12-kilometre stretch of sand. But if you’re not one to let the cold weather get between you and catching a wave, then you’ve come to the right place too. Surfers will froth on the dual point breaks of Werri Beach or the consistent conditions at the beautiful Bombo headland. In fact, the area is so renowned for its wave-loving lifestyle that it attracts massive surf events year round (hopes are high that the Kiama Bodyboard King Pro in August will be able to take place as usual). Stock up on all your requirements at Gerringong’s surf megastore Natural Necessity, from boards and wetsuits to men’s and women’s beachside fashion and accessories.

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An art gallery opening
An art gallery opening
Photograph: Supplied

9. Unleash the creative within

Culture vultures will find plenty to enjoy in Kiama during the year with a buzzing local creative scene, public sculptures, street art, workshops and regular events. Head to the Old Fire Station Community Arts Centre building on Kiama’s main street for weekly exhibitions from local painters, woodworkers and photographers and make sure to pop in to view the work of the resident artists at Fern Street Gallery in Gerringong. If you’re more of a do-er than a looker sign up for an artist-led workshop in printmaking, textiles, painting, jewellery design and more at the relaxed and fun Kiama Art Workshops. Buena Vista Farm holds classes on sustainable agriculture and produce making; the workshops include From Scratch (common foods once made from scratch in kitchens), Home Grown (one-day home gardening intensive), Fermentation (including kombucha, sauerkraut and kimchi), and Cheesemaking. Learn how to make your own candles at Willowvale Road or pottery at Zeynep Testoni Ceramics

A country verandah
A country verandah
Photograph: Courtesy Terragong

10. Stay somewhere stunning

From luxury farm escapes to action-packed holiday parks, there’s an accommodation option for all budgets and tastes around Kiama. If you like your cabin within metres of the water you’ll find a plethora of caravans, campgrounds and holiday cabins dotted around the area. Enjoy an intimate hotel getaway with views of the wetland and hinterland at Mercure Gerringong Resort, or ocean views close to the Blowhole at the Sebel Harbourside Kiama. Settle in to full-blown rural charm at Terragong Bed and Breakfast in the Jamberoo Valley, a stunning Georgian building built in 1858 surrounded by country gardens and undulating hills. Looking for a unique luxury escape with the extended family or a group of friends? Relish the farm experience and achingly chic mod cons at The Shed in Gerroa.

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