Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Kiama: Chasing trains and Blowholes

Kiama Railway Station lies 119 km south of Sydney by train and marks the end of Sydney Trains' electrified network. The classic 1893 station building today is still welcoming visitors to this beautiful country town by the sea, and also makes a fantastic stepping off point to go in search of the town's major attraction, the famed Kiama Blowhole.

Train time at Kiama. Passengers get off the electric train from Sydney at left, to board the Endeavour service to Bomaderry/Nowra on the right. Photo March 2015.

While most tourists or day trippers to Kiama quickly file off the train to go exploring about town, I'd flown down from Queensland for the weekend with my wife especially to take a trip over the South Coast Line and photograph some trains for my book Train Tripping Around Sydney. And Kiama Station didn't disappoint. 2 hours and 20 minutes after boarding the train at Sydney's Central Station, I was pulling out my camera to photograph the celebrated changing of the trains at Kiama Station. With the South Coast Line continuing 34 km further south to the towns of Bomaderry and Nowra, passengers are forced to change trains from an 8 car electric Oscar double decker set to a waiting 2 car Endeavour diesel railcar set to continue their journey south. It's like a scene out of the past, much like the days of changing trains at the break-of-gauge town of Albury on the New South Wales and Victorian border.

Kiama's 1878 Post Office with a departing train to Sydney in the background, March 2015.

Kiama itself is a historic seaside town, and nearby Manning Street is full of historic buildings such as the 1874 Westpac Bank and the 1878 Post Office. Stopping to take some photos of the Post Office I was even able to snap a shot of an arriving train from Sydney as it crossed over the Terralong Street Bridge in the background.

Normally the blowhole sends a spout of water shooting up to 82 feet into the air. On our visit in March 2015, the blowhole was a no-blow, but the scenery was still amazing!

While the short walk to the blowhole was a chance to take in some amazing scenery, the blowhole was a no-blow on the day of our visit. There wasn't even a splash to be seen. What we were able to see was the 1887 lighthouse and nearby harbour pilot's cottage and gift shop before following the harbour foreshore back towards town.

An ice-cream while we watch trains go by in Terralong Street, Kiama. 2015

Back in town we were able to find a quiet seat outside the ice-cream parlour on Terralong Street, and watch an arriving train thread its way through town towards the station. All up 3 hours proved plenty of time to enjoy lunch, a visit to the blowhole and a leisurely walk through town, before boarding our afternoon 2.55 to the city that would see us change trains at Central and be harbourside at Circular Quay by 5.30 pm to enjoy the sun setting over Sydney Harbour. Kiama would have to be one of the prettiest towns I've visited, and a day trip from Sydney on the train in many ways doesn't satisfy the urge to say I've been there. One day soon I'll have to return again with my wife, and you can stake your house on it that when we do, it will be for more than a day!

That's me standing beside the 2.55 pm to Central at Kiama Station in March 2015. This brand new Oscar electric train would later become the cover of my book.

If you're planning on visiting Kiama by train, the best way to appreciate the 238 km return train trip is by downloading my 99 cent eBook window-seat guide titled Train Tripping Around Sydney. Inside it is packed with enough fun-filled facts to turn an ordinary train trip into a real railway adventure of your own. And if like us you don't see the blowhole in action, you can rest assured that the scenery around Kiama alone will make your trip worthwhile. Oh, and in case you were wondering, that is a train at Kiama Station on the cover of my book.

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