Gerroa surfer Sally Fitzgibbons and award-winning Bombo author Bruce Elder have been announced as the region's first tourism ambassadors. As part of the launch of the "My Kiama" campaign Bruce writes about "his" Kiama.
I MUST have been eight or nine when I first came to Kiama. The family booked in to the old Brighton Hotel and within moments of my arrival I was entranced. In the 1950s Kiama was a charming seaside town which seemed, to a kid living on the edge of the Snowy Mountains, like a seaside town in an Enid Blyton book. The tangy smell of salt wafted into the town on the late afternoon onshore breezes, the lighthouse blinked on the headland, the blowhole blew spectacularly when the seas were high and the fishing fleet came and went from the harbour each day.
Move forward 30 years and I was living on the Greek island of Crete. It was lotus land. Writing during the day, down to the taverna at night to dance and drink, glorious food, lazing on the warm beaches. Then summer arrived and with it came the tourists. Thousands of them. It sounds strange but my first thought was, "if you want to live beside a beach, and you don't want to be overwhelmed by tourists, why not go back to Australia and head for Kiama?" So that is what I did. I settled here in 1980. It is a decision I have never regretted.
Objectively, and it is hard to be objective if you live here, Kiama is about as close to paradise as any place on the planet. The weather is Goldilocks land - never too hot, never too cold, it is just right. No frosts. No weeks of excessive humidity. Short periods of hot summer weather broken by the timeless drama of the Southerly Buster. Sunrise over the Pacific Ocean is always glorious and spectacular. Sunset, particularly when it leaves a pink glow over the ocean, is equally memorable. The way the escarpment curves around Jamberoo Valley and tumbles down to the sea along the Saddleback Ridge is the earth at its most sensuous and seductive.
The jagged volcanic cliffs and rock platforms, made memorable by our 'blowhole' and our 'best kept secret', the ever-reliable 'little blowhole', offer a darkly beautiful contrast to the pink-orange sands of Bombo. The surfers, from before dawn to beyond dusk and whatever the weather, waiting for the next set of perfect waves. No wonder holidaymakers look longingly in real estate windows. They come for holidays. We are relaxed and happy because we feel as if we are on holiday all year round.