One of the joys of travelling or living in a different place is to indulge in their local traditions. In Australia, much of the country observes a special holiday the second Monday of June – the Queen’s birthday. Now, there is no Queen of Australia…
I’m talking about the British Monarch Queen Elizabeth II.
The quirky thing is, the English themselves don’t make any special mention of this day. For them – business as usual. Yet, for Aussies living 17,000 km (10,500 miles) away from the monarch – a day off. I’m the last one to complain when a three-day weekend comes my way so, as usual, I was off adventuring. Thanks you sassy old gal. Or to be proper – her real title “Queen Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God Queen of this Realm and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.”
Enough about the Queen.
My buddy Bryon, who has been mentioned before, arranged a beach house rental in Kiama. About 2 hours south of Sydney and easily accessible by train. For A$8.60 each way you get a scenic trip down the coast and let off in the middle of this quaint little seaside town. There was no set agenda, just a weekend away so I’ll leave you with some highlights.
The Beach House
When we weren’t outside trekking around we all enjoyed a bit of downtime around the house. A big kitchen and massive patio led to a lot of group cooking, games, and chats over a few cold drinks.
Lounge on the patio overlooking the inlet to East’s Beach
View from the patio with the headland and East’s Beach
Kiama to Gerringong Walking Track
A 6km (4mi) stretches along the coast from Kiama to the small ton of Gerringong. Most of the headlands are conserved nature areas owned by the NSW government. For the majority of the track it is simply you, the beach on the left, and rolling hills on the right. And… occasionally a cow or two.
Starting the walk south past the crystal waters of East’s Beach
Summiting the first headland of many it’s just nature as far as you can see
Cliffs in the distance
Rock pool formations eroded over the years
The track is well maintained from the regular amount of traffic from locals and visitors. We lucked out with rarely another person the entire walk.
Approaching Gerringong, you pass several cow pastures and a robust estuary
This area reminded me a lot of the Central Coast of California where I grew up. Swap the eucalyptus trees for Oak and you have pictures from my childhood. I guess I am a lucky man.
Belmore Falls and the Hindmarsh Lookout
Located roughly an hours’ drive from Kiama are Belmore Falls. The main fall drops 80m with a second fall going another 20m to the canyon floor. Well worth the drive and truly a sight to see.
Just follow the path from the car park through the eucalyptus
Then take in the view to the valley floor from the lookout
Maybe 500m beyond the lookout is a separate lookout facing Belmore Falls
They are stunning in person and you can hear the water from across the valley
Budderoo National Park and The Minnamurra Rainforest
The Minnamura Rainforest is a an award-winning attraction about 30 minutes inland from Kiama. For an A$11 per car fee you are free to roam around the well maintained sorrounds of the conservation area.
This modern yet somewhat rustic visitors centre offers a small cafe and all the information you need for the self-guided walk. They also have a small museum of Aboriginal artifacts.
Well maintained boardwalks take you on a 1 hour (let’s be real – 45 minutes) walk over streams and through the reserve. We were fighting their 5pm close time but there is also a 2 hour loop that takes you to a waterfall and pool.
The surrounds envelop you in nature with the calls of wild birds far overhead. We also had a bit of fun with the suspension bridges.
While no trampouline, they are pretty bouncy
Streams and pools give great views as you criss-cross around the valley floor
Some very old trees which are slowly being wrapped by vines and provide a home for large ferns
This fern was growing straight out of a large rock – impressive
One of the more boring but very scenic bridges
A few items by themselves garner special mention from the trip.
If you are in the Southern Highlands and are a fan of cheese (check, check) then you must visit the Robertson Cheese Shop. Set in a string of shops on the main drag lies this great little creamery who do their own cheeses as well as gelato, jams, and other artisanal delights. The cheese is locally sourced and you can have as many free samples as you like. The rater stinky blue cheese was a star and we had more than our fair share of tastes before selecting the four cheeses we took for pre-dinner.
Also in Robertson…
I’ve mentioned these before, but around Australia they have many of these roadside “big things”. Whether it’s a Big Prawn, Big Merino, Big Mango, etc. they somehow represent a little something about that area. I’m still at a loss for the small town of Robertson (population 1,200) and their choice to construct a giant concrete potato in the heart of downtown.
Perhaps it’s just for a bit of fun and so people like me take pictures and post them on Instagram and blog about silly things like this.
The Jamberoo Pub
Not far from Robertson lies another small town of Jamberoo. A great lace to sit back in their outdoor beer garden and have a beer with lunch. Also take in the memorabilia that is hung all around the old-timey bar and enjoy the wood-burning fireplace on those chilly winter afternoons.
It was with a heavy heart that I drank a little morning OJ and said goodbye to the beach house
It was sad to leave the fun times and our awesome house but we were left with great memories and with a massive rainbow as a goodbye
Until next time