A sudden squall almost takes the map from your hands as you try to check your directions from the train station to Minnamurra Point. You assume this is nature’s way of confirming that, yes, you’re most definitely approaching the Kiama Coast Walk, and decide to put the map away.
Soon, you’re standing on the grassy track at Minnamurra Point with the salty air filling your nostrils, watching the sun glinting off the waves as they dance along the Boyds Beach shoreline at the mouth of the Minnamurra River. It’s a magical place, and this is just the beginning. Welcome to one of the most picturesque coastal hiking trails – and stretches of coastline – on Australia’s east coast.
Those choosing to hike the entire 21-kilometre Kiama Coast Walk will spend the next 6 or 7 hours in a continuous state of awe, passing gorgeous south coast beaches like the Boneyard and Easts Beach, watching brilliant coastal birdlife and spotting whales breach in the distance (between May and November). The real highlights, though, are the dramatic rock formations, sculpted by wind, rain and waves, which tell stories millions of years in the making – tales of ancient Gondwanaland, when this land was part of a vast supercontinent. Earth’s memoirs, etched in stone.
The Kiama Coast Walk is split into three – the North, Mid, and South sections. With Kiama’s vast range of accommodation options right at your fingertips, you can see why it would be tempting to hike it over three days, but the more adventurous tend to turn it into a day hike.
This meandering pathway comprises a mix of sealed paths, grassy tracks and beach walking, and the hills are gentle enough to make this an accessible hike for most. While Kiama’s allure is timeless, spring and autumn usher in a symphony of colours and moods, perfect for an immersive experience. It can be hiked either north-to-south or south-to-north. Train stations near both ends of the trail make it easily accessible from Sydney.
Need to know
Length: 19.5 km
Time: 6 – 7 hrs
Grade: Moderate – Difficult / Grade 4 (according to the Australian Walking Track Grading System).
Access: The trail can be started from either Minnamurra Headland at Kiama Downs (hiking south – the way this article describes) or Werri Beach at Gerringong. The north end is a 1 km walk from Minnamurra Train Station and the south end is about 3 km from Gerringong Train Station. If planning to access the trail by train, keep in mind that it’ll add an extra hour of walking.
Further Info: The trail is dog-friendly and there are even a couple of off-leash areas. It’s recommended to call Kiama Visitor Information (1300 654 262) for up-to-date information on track conditions (eg. Werri Lagoon is occasionally open to the sea).
As seen on…
Great Australian Walks
with Julia Zemiro
Episode 4 of Great Australian Walks is focussed around the Kiama Coast Walk. Julia traverses a 21.5 kilometre section of Kiama’s coastline, from Kiama Blowhole to Killalea Reserve and The Farm, skipping the two southernmost Kiama Coast Walk sections and extending the north end of the trail. I’ll focus this article on the official Kiama Coast Walk but if you’ve watched the show and want to retrace Julia’s path, it won’t be difficult to work out the rest.
Kiama Coast Walk North Section: Minnamurra River to Kiama Blowhole
8.5 kilometres / 3 hours
Following the track markers south from Minnamurra Point, you’ll cross the gentle sweep of Jones Beach to find the unique latite columns known as Cathedral Rocks, firmly standing the test of time, like nature’s formidable sentinels.
A rare window into the area’s tumultuous past. Have your camera ready, particularly if it’s ‘golden hour’ because this place – your first proper glimpse of the ancient lava flows that formed this landscape – is a photographer’s dream.
An equally impressive geological site and an even more popular shoot location, Bombos Headland, is just around the corner (at least what remains of it).
This head, formed of jagged latite columns, has stood witness to Earth’s tectonic dances and volcanic eruptions for millions of years. Then, sadly, us Europeans came along and quarried in the late 1800s and early 1900s. As tragic as that is, the remaining columns now jut from the sea in the most striking way, and walking across the quarry feels like taking your first steps on some distant planet.
Departing the headland, you’ll cross Bombo Beach and pass Kiama’s harbour, then follow the signs to the famous Kiama Blowhole.
Kiama Coast Walk Mid Section: Kiama Blowhole to Loves Bay
5 kilometres / 1.5 hours
The Kiama Blowhole is Kiama’s most popular natural attraction, but that’s with good reason. Said to be the largest in the world, the 2.5-metre-wide opening of this mysterious ocean cave has been known to shoot water up to 30 metres high. If you want to stay dry, keep your distance while you observe nature’s unyielding power.
Check out the Kiama Lighthouse before a stroll across the golden sands of Surf Beach and Kendalls Beach and after around two kilometres, you’ll discover Little Blowhole. Some say the smaller hole makes Little Blowhole more consistent, so between the two you’re sure to witness an impressive display. The blowhole’s surrounding latite is a sight in itself as the sun casts long, golden rays across it, making the jagged surface gleam with an otherworldly hue.
Cross Easts Beach and follow the craggy shoreline, and you’ll soon descend to Loves Bay’s secluded pebbly beach.
Kiama Coast Walk South Section: Loves Bay to Gerringong
6 kilometres / 2 hours
South of Love Bay is the trail’s least populated section, where rolling green hills – mostly cleared for pasture – end abruptly at rugged sea cliffs, waves crashing onto the weirdly angular rock shelves at their base. Silvereyes flit amidst the coastal heath, and native grasses sway as if dancing in the wind. In spring, the vegetation comes alive with bursts of wildflowers.
This profoundly tranquil trail zig-zags 6 kilometres of rural clifftops and rocky bays before your weary legs arrive at Werri Lagoon. Birdwatchers will want to spend some time here, but if that’s not your thing, check out the Dreaming Poles, erected by local artists as a respectful ode to the saltwater people – the traditional owners of this spectacular landscape.
From here, it’s just a short walk across North Werri Beach to its car park, marking the official end of the Kiama Coast Walk.
After hiking the Kiama Coast Walk, you’ll feel like every step was an act of communion – an opportunity to connect with the stories that have shaped the Kiama coastline. There’s a sense that every stone, every bird, and every gust of wind was a custodian of memories and million-year-old tales. You’ve felt the heartbeat that resonates through this magnificent country.
Have you watched Great Australian Walks with Julia Zemiro? Or have you done the Kiama Coast Walk? If you have any stories, updates or corrections, please let us know by commenting below.