When one thinks of New South Wales, Sydney is generally one of the only places that comes to mind. Scratch that, a lot of the time Sydney is the only place that comes to mind due to a lack of information and awareness about the other towns dotting the New South Wales coastline. With a population of nearly five million people, Sydney offers a multitude of activities and attractions for both locals and tourists. As a city itself, it is worth staying in Sydney for as long as possible due to its size and amount of things to do. That being said, many people who fly to Sydney stay in the city itself and do not realize that it is not only incredibly easy to travel to other towns along the coast, but affordable.
When I first got to Sydney, the city itself was more than enough for me. I did not even feel the need to venture out of the city, because I was enamored enough by the fact that I was in the continent that I had wanted to visit for nearly a decade. Not only that, but I genuinely did not know anything about intercity Sydney. However, when my roommate announced that she planned on heading to three coastal towns by train from Redfern Station and invited me to come with, I leapt at the chance to explore more of the New South Wales coast. It was time to escape the hype of Sydney for a day.
(Entrance to the haunted tunnel)
The first town we went to was Helensburgh, known for its haunted tunnel with glow worms. Don’t make the mistake that I made by wearing sandals. No. The inside of the tunnel is muddy and boasts puddles galore. It is meant for worn tennis shoes. Otherwise, if you have plastic bags at the ready you can wear those over your sandals and hope for the best (this is what I did, but I don’t recommend it unless you like having mud caked onto your calves for the rest of the day). I was asked today over breakfast whether or not the tour was guided and, no, it was not. It’s one of those places that you have to go to for yourself, but make sure to bring a buddy and a flashlight (avoid shining said flashlight on the sides of the tunnel, because there is writing that will send chills down your spine and make you want to sprint right back through the mud and out of the tunnel. Just focus on looking straight ahead and up at the glowworms and you will be fine). An iPhone flashlight was sufficient, but I recommend bringing an actual flashlight with you if possible. The glowworms aren’t photogenic, so don’t get discouraged if you cannot get a proper photo or video of them. I probably spent at least twenty minutes trying to capture them- both with flash and without flash- and had no luck, just a lot of suppressed eye rolling and frustrated tongue clicking. Just make sure to get a good look at them and don’t worry too much about getting photos, as much as having memories.
(Kiama coastline with the lighthouse in the background)
Following Helensburgh, we went to Kiama, about one hour away from Helensburgh, by train. A gem of New South Wales, Kiama is most known for its lighthouse and blowhole. Though, granted, you will want to view and photograph the lighthouse up close, my favorite view of the lighthouse was seeing it in the distance, atop sea cliffs and indigo waves. I was told after the fact that the blowhole only sprays water at certain times, so I suppose my roommate and I got lucky, because we were able to see it spray water approximately four or five times during our stay. What I loved most about Kiama, though, was the coastline. It’s absolutely stunning. Before visiting Kiama I told myself that my favorite coastline was California’s and that nothing could beat it. Now, I’m not so sure if I’m California dreamin’ anymore. Being an unashamed beach person , I have ventured to countless beaches, some spectacular and some mediocre.
Without a doubt, Kiama’s shoreline falls along the spectacular range, boasting an ideal mix of sandy beach and rocky cliffs. The rocks, particularly the ones by the lighthouse and blowhole, provide an idyllic location for picture taking, filming the waves cascade against the shore, or simply sitting and reflecting. My roommate and I shamelessly had a photoshoot before going to Milk and Honey, a quaint oceanside cafe serving a plethora of wraps, salads, sandwiches, and coffee. I highly recommend getting one of their milkshakes. Keep in mind that a milkshake in Australia is much thinner (and more refreshing, in my opinion) in consistency than a typical American milkshake. If an American-style milkshake is what you’re after, Australians refer to them as “thick shakes” and they are usually a tad more expensive.
We also made a final stop in Austinmer, a sleepy beach town with a relatively pretty main beach. The beach was average but the tide pools adjacent to the beach itself were worth seeing. Even though I was not originally planning on leaving Sydney, other than flying to the Whitsundays and Great Barrier Reef for an independent study, I’m grateful that I did. Even though the total length of the journey from Sydney to Helensburgh to Kiama was approximately four hours both ways, it was well worth it and my opal card only took away about eleven dollars total. The fact that these towns are so easily accessible by train from Sydney is another incentive to visit them.
Wishing you all were here with me,
The Caro Chronicles