Friday, 3 April 2015

A Weekend Away in Kiama (and balloons on the way!)

The view from Kendall's beach back towards the lighthouse and blowhole

On the Southeast coast of Australia, about 120 km (75 miles) south of Sydney, there is a little beach town called Kiama.

In 2012, when I wrote this post about Telluride, I mentioned that Kiama was one of my happy places. It is full of childhood memories, sunny afternoons, misty mornings, walks to the newsagent hand in hand with my Grandpa Keith, tea on the verandah (like a grown-up!) with Nanny, hours of lying in the warm sand and listening to the waves, fish and chips and chasing pelicans, and a million other moments of pure contentment.

My grandparents always had a caravan parked on the headland in Kiama that they (and we) used on weekends, and finally made the permanent move from Bankstown (in Sydney) when I was a little girl; we have spent many many weekends and holidays there since before I can remember.

Even though we do not currently have a family member living there, it is a place we are drawn to, and that we always introduce to dear friends and new family members. So it was my pleasure to bring my husband of 6 blissful months (happy half-iversary to us!) to Kiama for a long weekend away. We made our own long weekend by taking Monday off - I felt that I deserved it, since I was coming off a two-week stint of teaching a 6th grade class, 93% of whom belong in prison (or are at least trying to act the part). This was the second time Grady had been to Kiama, as we visited very briefly when we were out here in Australia for Ben and Nat's wedding. This time we were in no rush, and we were happy to spend the weekend wandering around, hanging at the beach, and dropping in at the cafes and restaurants.

This guy was a total ham. Loved having his picture taken.
Our hotel was right on the harbour, and it was in the perfect spot to walk to the cafes on the main street, the beaches, and the lighthouse and blowhole.

Our hotel is on the left, the blowhole and lighthouse on the headland to the right

The view from our hotel room

On our first afternoon, we enjoyed eating the best fish and chips on Surf Beach (a 'small' box of chips was roughly 317...apiece, and Grady had his first taste of chicken salt), lying in the sun, and a quick swim before turning in for an early night. 

On Sunday we played 9 holes at The Links at Shell Cove (the windiest round ever, and a crow stole my ball on the first hole!), then returned to Kiama for a leisurely stroll to dinner (in between rain showers).

On Monday morning we had a lovely breakfast near our hotel at the Terrace Shops, walked up to the blowhole and the lighthouse...

The famous Kiama blowhole

...drove past Nanny and Grandpa's old house (I can barely recognize it now!), and walked up the headland for one last view before heading back to Canberra.

Grady and his new pelican friend

This one was a little friendlier

One last look back towards the lighthouse before heading out of town

We stopped in Jamberoo so Grady could hit a couple balls at the local golf course on the way home. Much like my Mom and sister love to run through a new town to get the lay of the land, Grady loves to find local courses to get a feel for the place. This one was very green, and we hope to come back and play it some day.

On another note, on the way out of Canberra, we stopped off at the Balloon Spectacular.

This is an event that has been going on in Canberra for 29 years (it was probably begun in honor of Grady's and my birth-year), and is something we used to go to as children growing up in Canberra. The balloons are inflated on the lawns of Old Parliament House, and people come from near and far to watch them launch and enjoy a nice hot breakfast. Grady loved going to see the balloons at Memorial Park with his family growing up, and he says the event met his Colorado Springs based expectations, except there was no T-Rex balloon. There was a Yoda balloon though.

They launch from about 6:15-7:00am, so originally our plan was to go see the balloons before work on Friday morning. Alas, it was too windy on Friday, and the balloon launch was cancelled. Luckily, I love early mornings, so I was all like "No worries! I would have gotten up at 4:45 anyway! I love being up at the crack of dawn!" Yeah, no. Not so much. But it was still a lovely Canberra morning, Grady and I enjoyed breakfast and a walk around the National Carillon since we were down by Lake Burley Griffin anyway. We kinda sorta committed to trying again the next morning, as long as the weather held up, since we were headed out of town anyway.  I started checking the Balloon Spectacular website at about 5:00am to see if the launch was going ahead. We got confirmation that launch was a go at about 5:45, so we hopped out of bed (read: dragged our butts out of bed) and headed off to see some balloons.

We made it just in time to see about half the balloons take off, and it was totally worth it. As I knew it would be, somewhere in the back of my mind (the part that doesn't mind being woken up in the morning).