Every 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.
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.