THIS month we head off camping again and, for Sydneysiders heading south, this could be one of those places you have driven past 100 times and never given any consideration. Poor you!
For those who live in the country, it is a great place to come and spend time on the coast, still be in the country yet have the city only a short drive away.
It is picturesque, they make TV ads and even movies here; there are great beaches, good shopping and fabulous fishing to suit all comers, from land-based and estuary to offshore game fishing – all less than 90 minutes’ drive from the Sydney GPO.
You can even catch a train and alight only 200 metres from your camp. So where am I? Kiama, of course, at the Blowhole Point Holiday Park.
This park has to have some of the best views of any on the coast – stunning views to the north and south while the view to the west over the harbour at sunset is hard to beat.
The park is right on the point, only 100 metres or so from the famous Blowhole and you can hear the dull roar of the waves as the water shoots skyward.
Every site is elevated and has either a coastal or harbour view and there are not too many parks that can boast that. Let’s check the amenities before we explore the abundance of activities available to the happy camper.
This is not one of the largest parks on the coast because there is only so much land on the Blowhole Point, but it does have a three-star rating and it is very tidy, nestled under the majestic Norfolk Island pines.
There are 81 campsites, the majority of which are flat on terraced hillsides, 76 are powered and 34 of these have sullage for caravan wastewater. There are 14 showers seven for females and seven for males. The toilets are the similar, while the laundry is very clean with pay washing machines and dryers.
There are electric barbecues around the area and one of those great communal sheds, for want of a better word, that seem to be popping up in better parks these days. They keep you out of the weather when things turn nasty and they have barbecues, gas hotplates, tea- and coffee-making, tables and chairs, wash-up facilities, fridges and some even have TVs.
The view from the Blowhole Shed over the harbour is fabulous, particularly in Winter when they turn on the big outdoor gas heater.
These areas are great for backpackers, allowing them to travel with a minimum of gear and giving them places to prepare meals in relative comfort.
There is an on-site van section with 21 vans that can accommodate up to six. There are two-berth ensuite vans with annexes, five-berth mobile homes with ensuites, four-berth vans with ensuites and six-berth vans. Bring your own blankets and linen or you can hire them on site.
All have full cooking facilities and refrigerators while some have microwaves and TVs – inquire which vans will best suit your needs. As with most parks, there are no pets allowed so smooth-talk the neighbours into looking after the goldfish.
Now comes the good part: What do you do in Kiama? It would probably be better to say what can’t you do, because this place is very compact and it has the lot.
It is just a short stroll to the nearby beaches and only a few hundred metres from the main street and shops, which are just across the harbour. There is a swimming pool on the harbour shore and an indoor pool and leisure centre just at the end of town, and a tennis court for hire in the park.
The streets are lined with Norfolk Island pines and the shops range from rows of beautifully restored old terrace houses, selling all manner of old wares, antiques and alternative lifestyle products, to the everyday surf shops, music, clothing and takeaways.
Kiama has an abundance of fine restaurants. There is even a fish co-op on the shores of the harbour where you can purchase fresh seafood.
Then there is the award-winning Minnamurra Rainforest just out of town, with its waterfalls and elevated walking platforms through the forest, I can recommend this as I used to work as a guide there – it is spectacular.
Or you could just walk up the hill and watch the blowhole shoot its plumes of water skyward.
All those things are great but this is a fishing mag and when you come to Kiama, you come to fish. This is the stepping-off point to a multitude of offshore possibilities, from bottom-bashing the sand and reefs to chasing snapper over the reefs or sport and game fishing equal to anywhere along the coast.
You can launch at the sheltered dual-lane ramp in the harbour only 50 metres from camp or leave the boat at home, as there are over a dozen sport and game charter boats based in the harbour that will accommodate all your needs. The harbour itself is a great spot to drop a line.
The beaches fish well year-round for salmon, tailor, mulloway, whiting and bream and the Minnamurra River, with all the usual estuary species, is only five minutes away.
Then there is the rock fishing and although Jervis Bay is the Mecca for land-based game, the Blowhole Point has had its fair share of success and with the massive restrictions imposed on JB these days, the point is a great stand-by option.
This is particularly appealing for those hungry young anglers starting out on fishing adventures. I mentioned earlier about backpackers travelling light – so can keen fishos eager for a bit of adventure.
You can drive or catch the train to Kiama, set up camp on a site on the hill and fish until you drop, sleep, then fish some more.
You can catch live bait early mornings in the harbour and carry it out to the Blowhole Point, which is surrounded by deep water, and fish for salmon, tailor, yellowtail kings from legal to back-breakers, bluefin, mackerel, yellowfin and striped tuna, bonito, trevally – and there are more than a few marlin taken off the point most seasons.
There are also bream, blackfish, drummer and groper so you can have a ball. Sounds like a good weekend?
So if you live in the Big Smoke and you are looking for somewhere close to home, or you are from the country and want a break on the coast, try the Blowhole Point Holiday Park.
There are a range of prices starting from $26 a night for two people so call the manager, Margaret Byrne, on 02 42322707. In Kiama there is something for everyone and it is all only a short walk from camp.
The Kiama Blowhole Holiday Park, perched on the hill among the pines, viewed from across the harbour.
The main drive with the on-site hire vans on one side and camping facilities on the other.
The view from every camping spot is spectacular this is looking to the north-west from the terraces.
Sticking out into the Pacific Ocean just behind the camp is Blowhole Point, surrounded by deep water and plenty of fish.Reads: 718