History & Heritage

Discover the early days of this resource-rich region

Well beyond the limits of holiday nostalgia, Kiama is  rich in history – with clues to its past just waiting to be explored. 

Traditional stories speak of the Dharawal people who first came to the Illawarra, bringing with them the cabbage tree palm (still seen throughout the Kiama area). Nomadic Wadi Wadi tribes then passed through this heavily bush-clad  region, following trails north to Bass Point (Shellharbour) or  La Perouse (Botany Bay). One of their traditional camps was near modern-day Jamberoo (which actually means ‘track’).

The areas of Gerringong and Bombo were considered good sources of “ochre” – a deep orange clay used for aboriginal ceremonies. And this would not be the last time that Kiama’s mineral riches were sought out.

When George Bass sailed alongside Kiama Blowhole in December 1797, he became the first European to witness what Indigenous Australians called “where the sea makes a noise”. This ushered in a wave of development which would see towering cedar forests all but removed and basalt quarries carved across the region to supply a growing nation. 

Kiama’s swift growth peaked in the late 1800s – as seen  in many of the dates on heritage buildings around town.  And today, these landmarks of Kiama’s relatively recent history sit squarely upon the silent reminders of more  ancient beginnings. 

DIY HISTORY OPPORTUNITIES

• Pick up a Heritage Walks brochure from the Visitor Centre to spot points of interest in Kiama, Gerringong  and Jamberoo. 

• For a virtual tour, download the Kiama Library Tours app and select the My Place Digital Tour of Kiama. 

• Take a visit to Kiama’s Pilot’s Cottage at Blowhole Point (built 1881). it is open Friday to Monday. 

• You can trace your genealogy or discover local history at the Kiama Family History Centre on Railway Parade.

HARS Aviation Museum

Albion Park Rail NSW

The HARS Aviation Museum is an all volunteer group of Aviation Professionals and Enthusiasts who have premises at Illawarra Regional Airport (YWOL), Albion Park just over an hour by road South of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Open daily from 09:30 to 15:30 (except Christmas Day), the HARS Aviation Museum is unlike many others you may visit.  Admission includes a guided tour through the premises, which owing to them being “working” hangars, requires an escort.  You will not be hampered by barriers and you will be able to experience the aircraft and other displays in a way that is just not possible elsewhere. Cafe Connie is open onsite for great coffee, snacks and light meals.

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Kiama & District Historical Society Inc (Pilots Cottage)

Kiama NSW

Step into Kiama's past and discover the maritime and regional museum. Built in 1881, the restored Pilot's Cottage provides information on history relating to shipping, the cedar industry and bassalt quarries in the Region. Run entirely by volunteer.

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Kiama Anglican Church

Kiama NSW

Hello! We're a family consisting of people from all stages and ages of life who personally know God's kindness and forgiveness through a relationship with his Son, Jesus. As such, we seek to trust and follow Jesus as the Lord of our lives. As a church family, we are on a journey to grow in our love for Jesus and for each other, and to share his message and love with the community in which God has placed us in.  So whether you've been following Jesus for a long time, a short time or are just interested to know more, we warmly invite you to come and join us at Kiama Anglican Church.

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Kiama Masonic Centre

Kiama NSW

What is Freemasonry? Freemasonry had its roots in ancient Egypt and was active as a 'trade organisation' for stonemasons in medieval times. Since the 1700's it has welcomed a broader membership and today Freemasonry is more relevant than ever, giving men, from all walks of life, support to navigate changing times and become the best they can be, to support each other and to enhance their communities. Freemasonry is an international movement with over six million members worldwide but it works very much within the local community. It is founded on a system of knowledge that uses many ancient symbols and stories to pass on its humanitarian values and timeless wisdom. The tradition provides values that transcend materialism and complement the codes of all great faiths. Our values are non-denominational, ethical and based on deep respect for every human being. Despite many misapprehensions, Freemasonry is not a religion, a cult or a conspiracy. Nor does it have any sinister motives or practices. Lodge Kiama No.35, United Grand Lodge of New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, Meets on the 2nd Thursday each month, Tyling at 7pm.

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