Reminders of Kiama’s History          To Index

Kiama Townsite

The township of Kiama was proclaimed in 1839.

The original Kiama plan was based on a street plan designed by Surveyor Burnett, however when Burnett was sent to mark out the corners of the streets, he had to use posts 12 feet high so they could be seen above the scrub. Purchasers at the first sale in 1840 couldn’t find their blocks for jungle growth. No such problem will be presented at Jerrara if the plan is accepted.

One of the town cuttings, at the end of Terralong Street, (known by long term residents as Pike’s Hill, after the Pike Family) needed to be cut down some 30 feet, through tough basalt rock. This enabled traffic to be drawn over the hill from Jamberoo, by the horses that provided the motive power of those days.

In the other direction it is interesting to know that the town to the south was known as ‘Jerringong’.


The Kiama Public School, now closed, celebrated 140 years in 2001. Opened in 1861, the first headmaster was James Hustler. It was reported to be ‘not a strong infant’ when started and closed for a time in 1863. 

The Kiama Roman Catholic Church, built of stone, began 145 years ago in 1856.

In 1863 the Kiama Church of England School was operating with 75 on its roll.

Post Office

As the result of a petition in 1838 by residents of the area, a Post Office was approved. It opened in 1841 with the first Post-Master being George Hindmarsh.

Mails were first carried overland by runner from Shoalhaven to Wollongong but by 1848 a twice-weekly horseback service  operated from Dapto to Kiama and on to the Shoalhaven, having travelled overland from Sydney, via Campbelltown, Appin and Wollongong.

Council Chambers

Kiama’s first Council Chamber was located on the north side of Terralong Street, slightly east of the railway bridge. This was close to the original landing place where people and goods were taken ashore in a dinghy. When the dinghy  grounded, the goods were carried by sailors to a  figtree which provided the only shade. Some photos of old Kiama show this building and the figtree..

Town Jetty

The first jetty was built in 1849, off Black Beach and was apparently located near the corner of Manning and Terralong Street. As rough seas used to thunder through the gap that existed at that time between Storm Bay and Black Beach, the pier was extended in 1852 and later further extended.  A grant for extension of the jetty was received in 1856, but was still only able to take one ship at a time, the others having to stand off. A flagstaff was erected on Blowhole Point in 1858 to signal vessels trading at the port. It was often seen in my lifetime with a large black ball, hoisted aloft by the Harbourmaster when heavy seas made it too dangerous to enter the bay.

The Paddle - Wheel Steamer, Kiama

The first regular steamer to trade between Kiama and Sydney was the 104 tons paddlewheeler, ‘Kiama’, secured by the Kiama Steam Navigation Company, 150 years ago, in 1853. The ‘Kiama’ reached Sydney from Glasgow on April 3, 1855 under Captain Samuel Charles after a voyage of 114 days. It plied from Kiama and Shoalhaven to Sydney twice weekly and sometimes called at Gerringong.

Kiama’s first house and Inn

David Smith said that he arrived as the first white settler at Kiama in 1821. He began cedar cutting and by 1826 Kiama became the principal port for shipment of the district’s cedar, with nine-tenths of the cedar that went to Sydney coming from Kiama, with six or more ships being here at any one time.

Smith built a permanent house early in 1832, having been granted half-an-acre surrounding it. Kiama’s streets were subsequently laid out to conform with the boundaries of the grant plus additions to occupy the south-west corner of Manning and Bong Bong Streets where the railway cutting is located just south of the railway station.

Smith’s house later became Kiama’s first Inn, called the Gum Tree Inn following his securing a licence for his house in 1837, and advancing Kiama to the status of a town with a tavern.

Ray Thorburn has a top exhibition on David Smith in the Kiama History Centre.

Hartwell House

This gem of colonial architecture is 145 years old this year, having been built in 1858 for Thomas Chapman. Now owned by Barry and June Darke it is a sight to behold, with beautiful furniture, fittings and gardens. It was restored by Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Twamley, who later bought and restored the Old Presbyterian Manse. It operated for a period as a  ‘Barnado Home’

Military Barracks and the first Church.

Military Barracks and huts were first erected in Kiama when a party of troops was sent from Wollongong in 1831 to preserve order among the cedar getters. Of the buildings in early Kiama, perhaps the barracks were the most noteworthy until the first Church of England was opened in 1843. It was built of timber on the southeast corner of Manning and Bong Bong Street and was of Old Corinthian architecture - a design featuring gables but with no outside walls, the frame being visible on the outside. It was lined with cedar and also served as an Anglican Denominational School.

The Courthouse

The Courthouse was completed in 1860 and a western wing added in 1880. It was much used for public purposes as well as the law in its early days, being the only public hall at the time.

Westpac Bank

Premises now in use by Westpac Bank in Kiama were erected in 1887 by The City Bank, which opened its branch in 1874. Later as the City Bank of Sydney, it amalgamated with The Australia Bank of Commerce Limited which in turn amalgamated with the Wales in 1931.

A feature of the bank building is the cement scrollwork on the facade. The figurehead above the portico is believed to be a portrayal by Italian workmen of George Thornton, President of the City Bank 1885-1888.

The first customer on the Bank’s books in August, 1874 was George Adams who took over the license of the Four in Hand Inn at Kiama in December, 1859 and changed the name to the Steam Packet Inn. Adams conducted the ‘Steam Packet’ until January, 1877 when backed by a syndicate of farmers, he commenced the Adams Hotel in Sydney. He was also responsible for the George Adams (Tattersalls) Sweepstakes.

The branch closed during 1943-47 under the wartime ‘rationalisation’ scheme. The Bulletin Editor held Passbook Savings Account number 4 in his youth, when the bank first opened a savings service. Times have changed.

The Presbyterian (Scots) Church

Presbyterians first met at David Smith’s house on 10 February, 1840 to consider the erection of a Church.

 Land granted by the Government on the east side of Manning Street could not be used due to changes in the name of the Church following disruption of the Church of Scotland in 1843 and change of name in Australia to Free Presbyterian Church. A wooden building, erected for a store in 1848 near the Black Beach figtree was used for services until the stone church was built in 1863.

Revd. George Mackie,, arrived in Kiama in 1849 and stayed till 1857 before moving on to Victoria.

The vestry and stained glass windows were added in 1897 and in 1898 the church was improved by the addition of a steeple and bell.

The Church Pipe Organ was presented by G.L.Fuller and dedicated on 5 September, 1907. Electric lighting was installed in 1924

The Roof on the Presbyterian Church.

 Fifty years ago, in 1952 the Presbyterians started re-roofing the Scots Church. It was 90 years earlier that the building was roofed with the best Welsh slates however the original zinc nails had corroded, causing falling slates. Consideration was given to re-roofing with tiles but it was resolved to preserve the original appearance. The slate, which weighed almost 10 tons was completely removed and replaced at a cost of seven hundred and eighty pounds.

At the same time the interior of the Church was restored to its original position with pulpit and communion table returning to the western end.

The Presbyterian Manse and ‘The Old Manse’

The Church sold the original Manse, with two adjoining blocks, to the late Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Twamley, in 1959, when the building was 109 years old. The new Manse, facing Shoalhaven Street, was built immediately in front of ‘The Old Manse’ and was handed over in July, 1959.


Presbyterianism in Gerringong

A Presbyterian Church was erected in Gerringong in 1855. In 1858, Mr. Robert Wilson, a student of theology from Scotland, arrived in the district and conducted services during a Church vacancy. He moved to Gerringong when Revd. Kinross came to Kiama. He became immensely popular and given the delays to his ordination and a  fear that he may be lost to Gerringong, the Congregation threw in their lot with the Independent Church. Presbyterianism as a body has ceased to exist in Gerringong since 1861.

The  Masonic Temple in Kiama.

The building now serving Lodge Kiama was originally built by the Temperance Society, which was established in Kiama in 1868. It was not until 1876 that a move was made towards providing the members with a suitable building for their meetings.

At the time the only place for public meetings of any kind was the Courthouse and the need for a more commodious public hall was sorely felt. (not unlike the situation in 2002 –Ed.)

On March 16, 1876 Dr. Tarrant laid the foundation stone in the presence of 200 people, with dancing all afternoon to the sounds of the Town Band, followed by tea at the courthouse.

The building was finished and dedicated on 22 April, 1878 this time in front of 300 people, followed by tea and a concert.

The ‘Independent’, in reviewing the concert, mentioned a singer, Miss Boniface, had easily the most powerful voice heard that evening.

The building was estimated by the ‘Independent’ to have a seating capacity of 500 against the 200 of the courthouse, and furthermore was said to be big enough to accommodate ‘the biggest orchestra that was ever likely to come to Kiama’. The hall was to become the scene of many and varied entertainments, meetings and concerts and contained a concert grand piano. It was also the headquarters for the shows of the Kiama Poultry Society for many years. 


Kiama district’s tourist attractions were noted from earliest times. It was in October, 1874 that a meeting decided to seek means to erect public baths in Kiama for the use of residents and visitors.

Up until that time baths had not made their appearance in the homes of the people and washing the body was an uncommon practice.

The Lands Department granted a site on the north side of the harbour for one pound per annum rent. Upon completion in 1877, tickets were sold at tuppence per bath.  These became the Ladies Baths.

In 1888 the Men’s Baths were constructed on Blowhole Point and are when mixed bathing became commonplace, they became known as the Rock Pool.

A great tale told by my parents related to two well known local fishermen catching a shark, putting it in the rock pool early one morning. They then sat behind rocks and watching the reaction of two young men they had noted jogging each morning from the Brighton Hotel to the pool, in bathers and gown, stripping off and diving in from the upper level (now handrailed).  It was apparently like a Mack Sennett movie with the divers hardly touching the water before exiting the pool, discussing the matter and rushing off to tell the Police. By the time the Police arrived, the shark had been tipped over the side and the young men were told they should ‘leave town’.

In my youth, the pool was lit at night with lamps hanging from wires strung between two poles - one at each end of the pool. The remains of one of the poles is clearly visible at the eastern end of the pool, and a remnant of concrete at the western end shows the position of the other. A diving board was also well used and there were several locals, in particular Christy Morgan that spent hours practicing in the pool. ‘Bombies’ were more popular amongst the younger set, from either the upper level rocks or the diving board until it was removed and never replaced.

The pool and the lights were mentioned in Charmian Clift’s book ‘Walk to Paradise Gardens’ and she refers to young people enjoying the pool at night, something I remember and concur with.

Regrettably the lighting for night swimming is now quite unsatisfactory being from one floodlight 50 or more metres from the pool. If I had my way the earlier lighting, or similar would be reinstated, so the pool could be safely used by those with such a bent, including campers and caravanners at Blowhole Point. I would also attempt to improve pedestrian access from the car park.

Kendall’s Beach

The name given to Kendall’s Beach came from an early settler, Thomas Surfleet Kendall, who arrived in NSW in 1813 with his parents Rev. and Mrs. Kendall. Henry Kendall, Ausralia’s renowned nineteenth century poet had a poem titled ‘Kiama’ published in 1862.

Priests Beach

Surf Beach was at one time known as Priest’s Beach.

Apparently one of Kiama’s early priests was buried in the grounds of St.Peter and St.Pauls near the beach. In addition, two priests fresh from Ireland were passing through Kiama on their way to take up ministry at Nowra and went for a swim at Surf Beach. Both were carried out to sea and tragically drowned, reinforcing the name.

After the deaths, came the decision on where they were to be buried. There was no money to send them back to Ireland.  As they were regarded as just passing through, the Kiama Church people were not prepared for the expense and suggested Nowra should pay. Nowra said ‘no’ and after some discussion burial took place in the Gerringong cemetery.

The Beach was also known for a time as Storm Bay. When surfing became popular, it became Surf Beach and the name Storm Bay was given to that adjacent to Rotary Park at the northern end of the Showground.


Porter’s Gardens Beach.

This was, believe it or not, the early name given to Bombo Beach.

Horse Races were held, prior to 1860, on the beach each Boxing Day, by waiting until the tide went down.

In 1860, Seven Mile Beach was used, Porter’s being considered too narrow, however they again returned to Porter’s in 1862 and continued until a course was established at Monkey Flat where the current Minnamurra Station now stands. The first Turf Club meeting was held on New Years Day 1877.

At Jamberoo the people sought to form a racecourse in 1867 when G. Wood Jnr. at a meeting in the Man of Kent Inn offered a site on the Minnamurra River. Wood, who gave the land formed the course. The Illawarra Turf Club held its annual races on the Woodstock course each year, but by 1876 the course was said to be falling to pieces and no races were held until revived on Prince of Wales birthday in November, 1885


The first public hospital in Kiama is said to have been in Hothersall (corner of what is now Barney/Irvine) Street. The foundation stone, laid by Dr. Harman J. Tarrant, M.L.A on 22 September, 1886 followed a great procession up Terralong and Hothersall Streets. It was officially opened on May 21, 1887. Dr. Tarrant practised as a medical practitioner in the District and also engaged in a wide range of civic interests and active participation in the progress of Kiama. He represented the constituency of Kiama for seven years and played a significant role in Freemasonry in Kiama and elsewhere.

A new site was acquired in 1928, being the old Kendall homestead, Barroul and it’s large grounds. Foundations were poured in April, 1929 and municipal difficulties arose. Eventually, four separate foundation stones were laid, by the Mayors of Kiama, Jamberoo, Gerringong and Shellharbour on September 28, 1929. Patients were transferred on May 17, 1930. The former homestead became nurses quarters and the former Hospital and site was purchased by Carson Brothers who operated a quarry nearby. It was until recently the Cranford Lodge Bed and Breakfast establishment, on the corner of Barney Street and Irvine Street. Music lessons are today given in the former operating theatre.

New nurses quarters were built after the Second World War, and opened on 18 March, 1950. The former isolation block, became the maternity ward and was named Birrahlee, doing a roaring trade with 267 babies in 1960 alone.

The Hospital and Birrahlee were extended in 1960/61 and 1963, with a new operating theatre in 1975.  .

Brooklyn Private hospital located in Manning Street opposite the Catholic Church, closed in 1947. It became  the  home of Jim and Betty Creasey.

Bombo Railway Station

 When the South Coast Railway was opened on November 9, 1887 the terminus station was named North Kiama (now Bombo) serving as it does today, little more than a burial ground. It is little wonder that the Kiama press called North Kiama station the ‘necropolis of Kiama’, ‘the station at the graveyard’ and the rail line ’Sydney to the cemetery’. It was to be 11 years before the line was to reach a Kiama bedecked in flags and bunting on 3October, 1888 with the construction of a tunnel and bridges over Shoalhaven and Terralong Streets..

One hundred and thirteen years later, the railway line to Kiama was electrified, however the Bombo Station remains a testament to sentimentality and a stumbling block to equity for a station for the residents of Kiama Downs.

 Minnamurra Railway Station

The first Minnamurra Railway platform was located north of the Minnamurra River for the convenience of the Fuller family and opened in 1891. A steel bridge replaced the first bridge, with the first train crossing it in November, 1923.

Railway Planning

Railway planners don’t always get it right as has been evidenced with the retention of Bombo Station and the refusal to consider a station at Kiama Downs. The Minnamurra Station was originally placed north of the Minnamurra River and the original Albion Park Station was also originally located on the north side of the Macquarie Rivulet and a mile outside the Shellharbour Municipality.

Of more local interest in the Kiama Municipality was a proposal back in 1892 for the construction of a branch railway to Jamberoo. The line was to leave the railway at 67 miles from Sydney and skirt north of the Terragong Swamp or 1.5 miles farther south and skirt south of the swamp. There were difficulties with both proposals due to hills and swamps requiring either sharp curves or boggy crossings. The station for Jamberoo would have been at 71 miles but the proposal was eventually abandoned.

Anzac Day

Kiama’s first Anzac Day service was an open air memorial service, held on the eastern slope of Blowhole Point below the flagstaff. The Memorial Arch 

Bombo Public School

Bombo Public School, comprising one long timber classroom was opened at the top of the Bombo hill in May, 1890. It was replaced with a two-roomed timber classroom in 1922. The school building was taken to the Kiama Public School when Bombo closed down. The schoolsite of 2 acres  became a Public Reserve when the school closed.

 The single teacher school turned out some top pupils according to Brian Alexander. It’s headmaster was Mr.Wal Sproule.

Crawley Forest

In Kiama’s early days there was a big settlement, called Crawley Forest, in the hills above Kiama on the slopes of Saddleback Mountain.  On some early maps it was marked with the name Crawler Forest. It was approached via Bush Bank and had a Sunday School, first  established in 1856. John Dinning was an early teacher of 40 pupils and later became a minister and journalist.

Lawn Tennis

Lawn tennis, as it was called, reached Kiama in 1892 when two courts

were constructed in the excavation left from the Harbour works on Blowhole Point. Later, courts were built at the northern end of Hindmarsh Park, where the current bandstand is located. As demand grew, two more courts, built of cement stabilised clay were added and a Tennis Shed was built at the southern end of the court complex. Later, a two storey building was constructed close to Terralong Street, and at the time of its opening was heralded as the Tennis Club, Youth and Arts Centre. It was used for a variety of functions, with the Tennis Club using mostly the lower storey.

Public agitation following neglect of the Hall led to its demolition when the Tennis Club moved to Noorinan Street in 19…

Municipal Machinations

The Municipality of Kiama was gazetted on August 11, 1859. It included three wards, Kiama, Jamberoo and Gerringong, with the Municipality of Shellharbour being gazetted in June, 1859.

Gerringong became dissatisfied early and in November, 1861 sought separation and a Municipality of their own suggesting it was difficult and inconvenient to attend meetings.

In 1870, Jamberoo sought separation but in April, 1871 the municipal district of Gerringong and Broughton Vale was gazetted with Kiama and Jamberoo remaining as Kiama Municipality.

April, 1890 saw a petition from Jamberoo to separate and this was gazetted in October, 1890.

The Kiama Council proposed, in 1909, the amalgamation of Gerringong, Jamberoo, Shellharbour and Kiama municipalities. Nothing was done at the time and in 1919 the initiative fell upon Jamberoo to call a conference on the same proposal which was again rejected.

It was in 1936 that a larger amalgamation was proposed, but this time for the administration of electricity supply. The Council was to serve fourteen local authorities from Bulli to Jervis Bay. The time was not then ripe and the Second World War intervened in 1939.

Amalgamation of the joining of Kiama, Jamberoo and Gerringong was gazetted in June, 1954.

The Illawarra County Council, comprising the City of Greater Wollongong, Shellharbour and Kiama became effective in March, 1958.

The Minnamurra River Crossing

The road from Shellharbour to Kiama, prior to 1860, was via Locking Hill (Dunmore) and Jamberoo. In 1861, a punt was established at the Minnamurra River and road approaches to the north and south was built up above swamp level.  The punt was replaced with a bridge in 1872 and this was again replaced in 1890 with a single-lane timber truss bridge that some of us will still remember. The current bridge, built in concrete replaced the picturesque but narrow timber bridge in December, 1964 and straightened the approaches so motorists could enter the Municipality at full tilt. The old timber bridge collapsed during demolition in 1965.

Toll Bar

A toll bar operated for 5 years from 1845-49, just out of Kiama, a couple of hundred yards past Dido Street on the Kiama - Jamberoo Road. The road was then a parish road conducted by trustees who collected funds for it’s upkeep. A small marble plaque marks the spot. Alittle further along is another memorial cairn, commemorating the first butter factory in Australia.

Kiama Farmer’s Union.

A meeting in 1885 formed the Kiama Farmer’s Union to protect themselves against the other colonies swamping New South Wales with their butter, cheese and bacon and it was hoped to return to Parliament men who represented farming interests.

At a further meeting in Kiama in August, 1890 the Dairy Farmer’s Association was formed. The organisation aimed to keep the butter market clear, by exporting to prevent gluts and so keep the prices received by the farmers on an even basis.

Paspalum Grass

‘Paspalum dilatatum’ was introduced by one ounce of seed from South America and was exhibited at Tarawanna, near Wollongong in 1900 by John Payne. He recommended it for the south coast and it was  introduced by John James in Rose Valley in 1905. It was not many years before it spread over the south coast. The sticky ergot became unpopular with people who were not farmers, by the mid 30’s and Councils had to pay much attention to mowing to keep it off people’s clothing.


Rabbits, another unpopular import reached the Municipality around 1908. They ate grass and crops and rapidly bred. Trappers commenced selling their carcasses and they were also sent by train to Sydney to be sold in food shops. Many soldiers returning from the war became involved in trapping and it became big business for the next 30years until the introduction of myxamatosis.


Historically, Jamberoo was the first town to thrive in the Kiama Municipality. By 1850 it boasted three churches, an Inn at Curramore, the Woodstock Flour Mill, a timber mill with cooperage and a piggery and bacon factory

Rangoon Island – Minnamurra

It was in March, 1870 that the barque, Rangoon was driven ashore, 300 yards from the mainland, at Stack Island at the mouth of the Minnamurra River. Two boats, one from Shellharbour and one from Kiama, took off the captain and crew who lost all their effects. From that time the island has been known as Rangoon Island.

Municipal Faiths in 1862

The 1862 Census showed that religious faiths at the time in Kiama Municipality were

                                           Church of England (2139)

·                                             Roman Catholics (1405),

·                                             Presbyterians (922),

·                                             Methodist (855),

·                                             Congregationalist (36),

·                                             other protestants (90) and

·                                             Hebrews (5).

Dion’s Bus Service and Kiama.

The Dion’s first bus service out of Kiama was in August, 1929. It was a twice - daily service to and from Wollongong and travelled via Shellharbour, Albion Park and Dapto. During the lean depression years, payment was often in rabbit meat or fish. Unemployed persons were carried free. In August, 1938 they were allowed one service daily across the Windang Bridge, opened in April, 1938 and 14 kms. shorter than the Albion Park route.  The Dion’s were always battling with the authorities resolving to discontinue the Kiama service in December, 1976. Barney, one of 13 brothers and sisters and a legend in his own lifetime, drove until age 82 and died at age 91 in February, 2001.

Kiama Jazz Club

The Kiama Jazz Club had it’s beginnings in 1974 when a group of friends who were jazz enthusiasts met in each others houses to listen to records. This was not enough for them and they then looked for a formula to present live jazz concerts in Kiama.

The first concert was the Don Burrows Quartet on Sunday June 9, 1974 and from then on Kiama people have had the opportunity to hear the best of Australia’s and the world’s jazz musicians.

The early committee comprised Dennis Koks, Brian Burgess, Ron Hall, Gerry McInerney and Ernie Bradbury.

It would be hard to find a Charity that has not benefited from the Jazz Club’s events and Instruments have been donated to the High School and books and tapes to the Library over the years.

The Club was the first to own a first-class Grand Piano as the direct result of a disastrous piano being offered to a group from the USA, comprising Monty Alexander (pianist), Ray Brown (bassist) and Herb Ellis (guitar) when they were to play here in January, 1982. They threatened to go back to Sydney but persevered to great applause, leading to the decision to raise funds and purchase the Yamaha Grand.

Kiama Newspapers

Kiama’s first newspaper was ‘The Examiner’, first published on 24 April, 1858. It lasted until the end of 1862 when it was acquired and incorporated within Wollongong’s ‘Mercury’. The second was ‘The Independent’, which commenced in 1863 and the third the ‘Kiama Pilot’, starting in April, 1868 and operating for 5 to 10 years. The ‘Kiama Reporter ‘was next on the scene in 1877. The ‘Kiama Observer’ started up at the end of 1885 and finished in July, 1886.

In October, 1895 the ‘South Coast Chronicle’ was published but it continued for only 3 months.

Several decades later Leo O’Dwyer began a new free newspaper, printed in Berry, but called the ‘Kiama Sentinel’. It was published through 1932-33 before closing. Leo was later to write a very newsy, informative and looking-back column for many years in the ‘Independent’

The ‘Kiama Independent’, under the Weston family has outlived all of these changes and deserves all of the success it has achieved, particularly in recent years when it has been judged as an industry leader by its peers. We are indeed fortunate to have such a great recorder of events and disseminator of local news in our great town.

The ‘Our History in Print’ monthly millenium feature, instigated by Marge Weston, wife of the late Rotarian Bert Weston, gave today’s readers an incredible potted history of the Kiama Municipality. It told us of the significant events, the people, the cultural and social progress and changes that have helped shape Kiama since its discovery by George Bass in 1797.

If you didn’t save the 14 issues, then may I suggest you canter up or down to the ’Independent’ offices and see if you can still obtain copies. They not only make great reading, but, will be great for the grandchildren and an information resource in the decades to follow.

Charmian Clift and Kiama

(extracts from her first book)

In her first book, titled ‘Walk to the Paradise Gardens’, there are some gems of description of the Kiama I remember from growing up in the town.  I have selected several excerpts to illustrate her incredible powers of observation and I hope that you  enjoy the passages and relate to them as much as much as I did when I first read them.

In Chapter 1 Julia and her husband Charles come to Lebanon Bay (Kiama) for a holiday. As they enter Kiama and view it from Bombo hill

‘…the far hump of Heifer’s Back (Saddleback), the long, flat misted bulk of Dooliba (Jerrara?), and the hills, tumbling down, dozens of hills, each patchily plotted with fields, veined with stone walls, and crowned with dark spread umbrellas of Moreton Bay fig. … where the downward slide of the hills ended two noble purple bluffs strode on into the sea, separating casual mile-long sweeps of coarse yellow sand overgrown with Marram-grass and starred here and there with aloe clumps; the broken froth of the surf edged the sand with a loose and moving white thrill of water.’

.. ‘the car slid forward down the hill between the lantana-grown stone walls and the flame-tipped grey of coral trees late into leaf. The tyres chirruped on the hot bitumen, a broad gunmetal ribbon stitched to the hills with the yellow thread of the traffic line. Below them were the pines and the sea.’

……’The main street had altered, not recognisably it was true, but very considerably. Scarcely any of the old wooden shopfronts remained. Instead, there were tiles, raised chromium letters, plate glass windows, neon signs. The shops extended for two blocks further than she remembered. They were striped alternately with clear yellow bands of sunlight and long cool feathers of shadows from the pines and the sea itself was alive with light-blue, green and silver jumping madly between the straight scaly trunks of the trees; the whole town seemed to slide in a mesh of water reflections.

Chapter 2 starts with a description of the Bombo Headland…

…the rugged promontory, shaped and blasted by drill, pick and dynamite plug into the fantastic likeness of a disabled battleship, was the first area in the district from which the great square blocks of basalt had been quarried…..…..

In describing the rock walls……’Charles had already become enchanted by these meandering monuments to the convicts who had built them, and had firmly dismissed any more functional form of fencing in Lebanon Bay as sacrilegious’…

Chapter 3 contains the words……..‘Each day they swam, either at the town main beach - a pretty yellow half- moon of sand crowded with spreadeagled bodies in every shade of suntan from blush-pink to mahogany, or in the pool that had lately been carved out of the rock shelf on the ocean side of the headland. The pool was a Lebanon Bay innovation of which Julia wholeheartedly approved…. Especially at night when swinging arc-lamps blazed above it, and the ordinary young people who splashed about or dived for coloured pebbles on the roughly hewn bed…

… enchanted with the Council Chambers so imposingly Corinthian along the two storied  facade, but from a side angle seen to be only one room deep…… the blue-stone school, four square, so honest in conception and construction.

In describing the lantana flower… miniature Victorian bouquets composed of dozens of tiny pink and yellow trumpets……………. and

… The cliff path known as Jacob’s Ladder - a precipitous descent down natural ledges of crumbling volcanic rock - led all the way to the eroded shelf that skirted the base of Grace Point, (Pheasant Point) a shelf encrusted with millions of minute blue-pointed shells as beautiful as a drift of bluebells and sharp as a fakir’s couch, and cut here and there by narrow fissures where even at low-tide the only time when the shelf was accessible - the swelling ocean rushed in anger against the cliff-face and retreated again in a hiss of white water and streaming weed. To the right of the shelf, curving towards Lilian Beach, lay the exposed and oozy spine of a reef grown over with wrack and cunjevoi.

In the rocks there were cups and hollows rimmed with a sediment of dry salt crystals that glittered like diamonds and licked from her fingers.

      Compiled by Graham Mackie