Salt of the Earth: Australia’s NSW South Coast

Kangaroo Valley

The sun had just pulled away its final rays and the night was quiet, surprisingly quiet given the number of other campers in this park. So we were startled when the entire bus began to rock back and forth accompanied by a loud sawing sound from the back of Lil’ Beaut.

Trin and I looked at each other startled. He grabbed the flashlight and ran out the door to try and stop whoever was destroying our home.

The noise stopped. The shaking stopped. Trin came back inside.

“It is a wombat,” he said

“What was he doing?” I asked

“I have no idea, I’ll check the lines underneath in the morning when it’s daylight,” he said

The last time we had trouble with animals under our car was in the Maroon Bells in Colorado where the Marmots are known to chew on the radiator hoses or brake lines. We had slept in our car in the parking lot and in the middle of the night we were awoken by the shaking of the car. We had to get up a few times to shew them off. I hoped we would be able to drive over the mountain pass out of here safely.

Wombat under Lil' Beaut in Kangaroo Valley
The wombat under Lil’ Beaut. Yes, the bus is dirty, there is a drought and washing of cars is not allowed.

When the bus is rocking

The following afternoon I watched another wombat sidle up to Lil’ Beaut. I opened the door to step out and he walked right under the bus. He stopped just under the first step, the step I was currently standing on.

There was only a sheet of metal between my feet and the wombat. I started stomping to scare him away. He didn’t care. It didn’t even faze him. Then I heard the sawing sound so I jumped down to the ground to watch what he was doing. He was arching his back rubbing it on the under metal of Lil’ Beaut. His extremely coarse hair rubbing against metal sounded like a saw.

The entire bus rocked with his strength. I shook my head in disbelief as helpless laughter blurted out of me. Resigned, I continued to set up our outdoor table and chairs. It was a beautiful day to read a book in the cool breeze here in Kangaroo Valley.

We couldn’t decide if we should be amused or annoyed by the wombat waking us up multiple times each night.

Kangaroo in the field next to Lil' Beaut
A kangaroo and her joey in the field next to Lil’ Beaut

Pitter Pater of Little feet

Completely enthralled in my book, Where the Crawdads Sing, I didn’t hear the soft pitter-patter till a movement by my side caught my eyes. A Pacific Black Duck stood there looking at me from only an arm’s length away. The long stripes on her* head gave her the appearance of having thick eyeliner, Egyptian style.  

She stretched out her neck, left leg and wing revealing a brilliant green patch of secondary feathers underneath. She repeated the stretch on the right side. Then she stood there looking at me. Without as much as a quack, she sat, gave a very soft almost purr from her throat, tucked in her head and took a nap. She napped a good hour in the shade right beside me as I read my book.

Duck in Kangaroo Valley
Pacific Black Duck who took a nap by my side.

*The Pacific Black Duck is sexually monophonic, meaning that the plumage for both males and females is the same. I don’t really know if this duck was male or female.

Two large trees to the left of Lil’ Beaut were providing shade for a mob of Kangaroos. They have been lazing around all afternoon. As the sun settled lower in the sky they started to move a bit more. One or two at a time they meandered over my way, crossed our campsite and hopped on to the open meadow behind me.

Despite the incidents of the wombat in the night we decided to stay here a few days to catch up on some writing and other projects for Lil’ Beaut. I’m making solar coverings for all the windows to prepare for the fast-approaching summer. 

Cliffs along the Kiama coastal walk in New South Wales, Australia
Cliffs along the Kiama coastal walk

Kiama

After a few days in the bush, we headed back over the mountain pass of Kangaroo Valley towards the coast of Kiama. Parking in a little neighborhood we got out to see a small lookout and walkway to a rocky shore.  

At the shoreline, we watched and were rewarded. The large waves started coming our way and then with a roar, water shot up through a hole in the basalt lava rock lining the beach. I love blowholes. This one is worth the stop even if it is just a little one. They named it Little Blowhole. 

Coastal Walk

Kiama is in the middle of a 22 km (13.7 miles) coastal walk that extends from the Minnamurra River in the north down to Gerringong in the South. It passes through beaches and cliff tops, towns and meadows. It was just the thing we love and a great way to experience this section of New South Wales South Coast. 

Basalt lava rock at the edge of an old quarry
Basalt lava rock at the edge of an old quarry on the sea shore.

Where the river meets the sea

The Minnamurra River meets the ocean in a display of blue water and white sand creating a lazy pattern at the wide mouth of the river. The patterns are best seen from the top of seaside cliffs that curve around Mystics beach.

Minnamurra River at the north end of the Kiama coastal walk
Minnamurra River at the north end of the Kiama coastal walk

An otherworldly coast

About midway through the coastal walk there is an old quarry. The basalt rocks that remain standing rigid against the coast create an otherworldly feel.

When we first arrived in this section we came upon a few photographers capturing a bride and groom posing for what will most likely be a spectacular wedding album. I snapped a picture of her among the basalt rocks. It is the cover photo at the top of this article.

Trin dodging a wave on the basalt lava rocks along the coast of Kiama on the coastal walk
Hey Trin, could you pose up there for a picture. Then a wave crashed on the rocks.

Cliffs of Kiama

The South end of the Coastal Walk below Kiama is more secluded with meadows as far as the eye can see undulating along the top of steep rocky cliffs as it follows the vast expanse of the ocean.

Many of the cliffs were straight drops down to the ocean varying in height. Some of them had a shelf of tessellated pavement that would mostly be covered by the cold waves during high tide.

Trin standing next to a water channel in the rock shelf at the base of a cliff on the Kiama coastal walk
Trin standing next to one of the water channels in the rock shelf at the bottom of the cliffs near Kiama

Our need to explore up close took us out onto one of these rock shelves at the bottom of a cliff.  We jumped over water channels flowing through large cracks in the shelf. The water in these channels at times seemed invisible with clarity that tantalized. The pools were full of Neptune’s Necklace Seaweed, also known as Neptune’s pearls since they look like strings of small pearls. The stringed pearls swayed back and forth with the surge of each wave.

Cliffs along the Kiama coastal walk in New South Wales, Australia
View from the coastal walk in Kiama

Catastrophic power

Some rocks were jagged as if suddenly frozen from their liquid state while in the middle of splashing against a surface that decayed and was washed away long ago. Others stood high and solitary as if once in peaceful rest they were thrust sideways and broken off in a massive catastrophic movement of the earth. The whisper of power blew around us in the salty spray.

A vast portion of the rocks lay prone with small pools of water and raised seams creating a spectacular display of art that, in its randomness, creates a picture of might from afar. These rocks glisten as if sprinkled with silver. Salt alone is plain and white, but against powerful art, these salt crystals reflected grandeur.

Rock shelf at the bottom of the cliffs along the Coastal Walk near Kiama in New South Wales, Australia
Rock shelf at the bottom of the cliffs along the Coastal Walk

We explored the base of the cliff as far as we dared with the tide on the rise. Some of the rocks that I had skipped over on the way out were now a few inches underwater.  We made it back to the beach with plenty of time and with wonder in our hearts.

Basalt rock shelf along the coast with a channel of sea water
Basalt rock shelf along the coast with intricate patterns

A dragon’s breath

We hung around Kiama an extra day in order to catch the large blowhole that Kiama is best known for. The ocean swell needs to be rolling in from the southeast for her to display her power. 

Parking by the Kiama lighthouse we walked towards one of the many viewing platforms to see the iconic blowhole. We gazed down through a large opening in the lava rock that revealed the ocean churning below. 

Secluded beach near Kiama in New South Wales, Australia
Secluded beach along the rock shelves near Kiama

During our first stop here the previous morning the ocean foamed but showed no signs of her explosive power. The winds were coming in the wrong direction for a good display.

By the afternoon of our second day, the winds had changed to a south south east direction. This was close enough for us to see her roar.

Rainbow in the mist of the Kiama blowhole on the South Coast of New South Wales, Australia
Misty breath from the Kiama blowhole

We stood above the large opening in the basalt lava rock and waited as we heard the crashing of the waves against jagged rocks.

The sounds of the swell echoed up through the opening like a dragon stirring from slumber. Then she exhaled blowing steam through her nostril high into the sky. It continued to breathe, sometimes light which blows mist, sometimes angry spraying the viewing platforms with cold drops of ocean spray.

The salty mist coated our faces making our lips taste the sea.

Trin in a meadow on a cliff edge overlooking the ocean
Trin in a meadow on a cliff edge overlooking the ocean

I long to be like salt for nothing in me is greater than another. I hope to magnify the beauty around me and leave a taste, a taste of wonder and tantalizing exploration of not only travel but ideals.

Taste and see.

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5 thoughts on “Salt of the Earth: Australia’s NSW South Coast”

  1. The blowhole was awesome!!!!! How beautiful. You sure are experiencing some great places and seeing some great views. Keep enjoying, exploring, and sharing with all of us.

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