Great South Coast Walk


Quick Stats

Distance: 63 km from Wollongong to Gerroa

Time: 3 days

Highlights:

  • Lake Illawarra - largest of the coastal lakes along this shore-line
  • Enjoy the waterbirds on the Killalea Wetlands
  • A first encounter with mangroves on the Minnamurra River
  • Admire the jagged volcanic formations of Cathedral Rocks and Bombo Headland
  • If the swell is right, watch the Big and Little Blowholes in action
  • Enjoy the historic architecture of old Kiama
  • Follow the cliffs south of Kiama, where the green of the pasture contrasts with the blue of the sea
  • Appreciate the curious geology, where old lava flows are layered on top of sandstone
  • Take in the curving vista of Seven Mile Beach from the heights of Gerroa

Where to stay:

  • Windang (camping, cabins)
  • Shellharbour (camping, cabins)
  • Kiama (camping, cabins)
  • Werri Beach (camping, cabins)
  • Gerroa (camping, cabins)

Legend

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Tent sites
Camping & cabins
Hostel / B&B
Shop / kiosk
Information
Water crossings
Track issues
Track variations

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7sc22Every long distance walk has a day or two that are best perceived as “transition” days – getting from one interesting region to another while crossing terrain that does not evoke much enthusiasm. The first day of stage two is such as a day as the walk heads south from Wollongong and sidling by major roads to bypass the industrial area of Port Kembla.  However, it soon reaches Lake Illawarra, the largest of the coastal lakes south of Sydney, and the landscape quickly improves.

The route from the lake quickly rejoins the coast to cross a series of sandy beaches at Shellharbour. Creeping urbanisation is finally left as you head past the Killalea wetlands and their abundant bird life to isolated Killalea Beach. From the rise at the end of the beach, views stretch down the coastline, across the Minnamurra River to the green rolling headlands characteristic of the region you are about to enter.

From here, you pass above the mangrove flats to cross the Minnamurra River – at low tide and calm seas it is swimmable. Alternatively, if you prefer to stay dry, you can follow a more inland route along suburban roads directly from Shellharbour to the road bridge, as per the track variation (but then you miss Killalea).

Once across the river, there is a long stretch of beaches and headlands, as you pass jagged black or red volcanic formations at Cathedral Rocks and Bombo Headland, to arrive at Kiama with its iconic blowhole and historic old town.

Here you pick up the track of newly created Kiama Coastal Walk as it meanders its way past sandy beaches, stony coves and across green-pastured headlands on its way to Gerringong. The last part offers vistas of pastures sweeping down from escarpment hills to the layered sandstone / basalt cliffs that plunge into the blue Pacific.

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Leaving these cliff-top pastures, the track descends past Werri Lagoon to cross the long beach at Gerringong (perhaps a good spot for a coffee at the local beachside café), before climbing up on to the headlands at its southern end. A shorter section of cliff-top pastures takes you to the village of Gerroa and the end of the section.

However, from the heights of Gerroa, don’t forget to take in the panoramic view of the long curve of Seven Mile Beach backed by forest and distant hills. This is your route onwards on the next section.

There was no clear route from the Bass Point Recreation area to the Minnamurra River Bridge, when we walked here in 2004. However, Graham Burgess from Illawarra NPA has now mapped a route from Shellharbour to the Minimurra River in Killalea State Park. From here it would require either swimming the river  (needs to be done at the turn of a low tide, as at other times tidal currents could make this dangerous) or hiring a kayak from the local operator ( www.escapekayaktours.com.au ) who bases himself at the crossing point on weekends.

Alternatively, Graham has mapped a more inland route that crosses the river via the road bridge (click on track variations to view). The route across the southern part of Shellharbour may change once the new marina development has been completed.

There may be some private land to cross between Gerringong and Gerroa, as the beach route is blocked by a deep channel and you have to walk on the grassy verge of the low cliff line.

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