God’s Country

The South Coast

Blessed with natural wonders, friendly locals and a cool sea breeze, Australia’s South Coast is the perfect summer holiday spot. Home to charming townships, a thriving arts scene and some of Australia’s best beaches, there is plenty to see and do for the whole family.

Holidaying in the South Coast is always relaxing, but there are thrills waiting to be discovered around every corner. Feel the crisp sea spray and witness the action up close at Kiama’s world famous Blowholes. Explore the ghostly past life of a historic arts and craft village at night. Take a walk on the wild side at Mogo Zoo. Enjoy the quiet ambiance of the many art galleries and antique shops or party hard with the locals at the lively festivals.

Go bushwalking, cycling, fishing, shopping… or just drop everything and unwind on one of the stunning beaches. The South Coast offers visitors an authentic Australian experience with sights and sounds that will not disappoint. Where else in the world can kangaroos be seen jumping around at the beach?

Around every bend of the South Coast lie eclectic towns and villages, windswept seascapes and rolling hills. One of the must see attractions is situated in the picturesque town of Kiama. Kiama is located just an hour and a half’s drive from Sydney but with dry stone walls crossing lush green pastures and spectacular beach views, it feels like it is a world away. The Main Kiama Blowhole has been attracting visitors to the area for over a century and it is the largest of its kind in the world. An estimated 600,000 people visit the Blowhole each year to watch the amazing white plumes of water that shoot through the gaping hole in the rock up into the air. The Blowhole is particularly good to watch when the wind is coming in a south-easterly direction. There is a second blowhole three kilometres south of Kiama Township known as the Little Blowhole. While George Bass was the first European to discover the Main Blowhole in 1797, the local Aboriginal people had known about it for generations prior, naming it ‘Khanterintee’.

Just an hour and a half drive from Kiama is the jewel of the South Coast, Ulladulla. The town may be the business and entertainment hub of the region but thankfully, it has not lost its natural beauty and small town feel. Tourism is a major contributor to the local economy and there are different accommodation options to cater for every traveller and every budget. Luxuriate in the boutique resorts or get to know the locals in the cosy bed and breakfasts nestled throughout the area. There are also family friendly holiday parks and beachside camping grounds. All attractions, amenities and services in Ulladulla are within walking distance or just a short drive away. While thousands of tourists may flock to the area during Easter for the annual Blessing of the Fleet Festival, being a beachside town, Ulladulla really shines during the warmer months.

Some of the best things to see and do in Ulladulla are the simplest. Drop a line from the wharf and watch the trawlers pass by in the early morning and late afternoon. Ulladulla is a fishing port renowned for the quality of its seafood, so if the fish aren’t biting, savour fresh seafood caught daily from the harbourside Fisherman’s Co-op (it’s where the locals shop). Go for a refreshing dip in the sea pool overlooking the beach and check out the library across the road for a good read. Pick up a bargain at the Ulladulla Harbour Markets held every second Sunday of each month. There is fresh seasonal produce, clothing, plants and bric-a-brac for sale as well as face painting and a jumping castle for the kids. Speaking of kids, no trip to Ulladulla would be complete without at least one visit to Funland, a three level arcade of video games and rides complete with dodgems and laser skirmish. Funland has been putting smiles on faces for over 40 years and is a much-loved icon in Ulladulla.

Just ten minutes drive from Ulladulla is a historic village full of culture and character. Milton is a small but special place ideal for a day trip. There are cafés and restaurants, antique shops, and galleries showcasing the creative talents of upcoming and established artists. Every September through to October, Milton celebrates Escape ARTfest and over the June long weekend there is the colourful Scarecrow Festival. Established in 1860, Milton is infused with old world charm and some of the original buildings are still standing. There are several Victorian era shops in Milton’s main street now known as ‘The Settlement’. Lantern lit walking tours operate by night, sharing spooky ghost stories and bits of local history which would otherwise be forgotten – but Milton’s main attraction is very much alive.

No trip to Milton is complete without visiting the heritage listed Illawarra Little Leaf Fig tree standing in Mick Ryan Park. It is a fantastic photo opportunity that is not to be missed. The majestic tree is believed to be over 180 years old and is so big that from the outside, it looks like a leafy dome that touches the ground. Walk right up to the enormous trunk of the tree, the canopy of which covers an area of almost an acre and take in the awesome view. The iconic tree played a starring role during Fig Jam, the finale of last year’s Escape ARTfest celebrations. A diverse mix of artists and musicians playing the bagpipes, bongo drums, guitars and more had a jam session under and around the tree together with Escape ARTfest committee members and community members. Attendees had a lot of fun sketching, painting and photographing the tree that featured artworks hanging from its branches.

Another great place to visit in the South Coast is the quirky village Mogo. Located an hour’s drive from Milton and ten minutes from Bateman’s Bay, Mogo was once a bustling goldmining village. In 1857, the discovery of a gold nugget in the Bateman’s Bay area saw the population rapidly boom to 10,000 people. When gold rush fever died down, Mogo became a sleepy ghost town but fortunately, tourism has given the area a new lease on life. In the 1980s, a group of artists and craftspeople came to live in Mogo and some of them still live locally. Today, Mogo has a vibrant arts and crafts scene with many great galleries. Mogo also has a number of speciality shops selling everything from handmade lollies to exotic beads sourced from around the world. There are cycle paths through Mogo State Forest and check out the Original Gold Rush Colony, a multi-award winning attraction that provides a fascinating insight into what life was like during the gold rush days at Mogo.

One must see attraction on the South Coast is Mogo Zoo, which is dedicated to breeding rare and endangered species and educating the public about the need for conservation. Mogo Zoo is regarded as being the best privately owned zoo in Australia and has won numerous awards over the years. It is home to over 200 animals including the only white lion pride in the country and boasts over 40 rare and exotic species. Take a walk on the wild side and book an interactive animal encounter; it’s an unforgettable experience. Be sure to attend the keeper talks and feeding sessions held during the day to learn more about the natural behaviours of the animals and the need for conservation.

Situated in the tranquil bushland of Murramarang National Park about half an hour drive out of Mogo, Pebbly Beach is a lovely spot with picnic tables and nearby camping grounds. Pebbly Beach has gained a reputation as the home of the ‘surfing kangaroo’. The rumour arose from a photo taken of a kangaroo standing in the water at low tide. Indeed, Pebbly Beach has a mob of Eastern Grey kangaroos that have grown quite accustomed to people. These kangaroos can be seen grazing on the grassy slopes and hopping along the sand.

From kangaroos at the beach to a leafy green giant in the park and the world famous Kiama Blowholes, these are just some of the most popular and off the beaten track attractions that the South Coast of Australia has to offer. There is still so much more to see and do in this amazing region, from gourmet food and wine tours to horse riding through the bush. Take a trip to the South Coast sometime soon and experience what holidaying in Australia is all about.

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September 25, 2018, 8:19 AM AEST