COME SEE Killalea State Park (The Farm + Mystics + Minnamurra), Illawarra. Australia.
KILLALEA STATE PARK: THE GUIDE
ACCESSIBILITY: Private car, limited access via public transport.
BEST TIME TO VISIT: Summer (Dec-Feb)| Temps average 17-27 degrees
LOCATION: 2.5hrs from Sydney CBD | Open in Google Maps
WALKING DISTANCE: 5-10minutes down, 10-15 minutes up. 1 km along Mystics Beach
TIME REQUIRED: Half to a whole day
TOURIST RATING: Popular with locals and surfers.
KILLALEA STATE PARK: THE EXPERIENCE
As told by Jackie Te-Aroha.
Utter the words Sydney to anyone living outside of New South Wales and you’ll likely hear the destinations, Bondi, Darling Harbour, The Rocks or Manly enter their vocab. But speak to a local and you’ll hear a few other places that us Sydney kids flock to when ever we get a chance. One such area, located 100km South of the CBD in the Illawarra region is the Killalea State Park.
Killalea is known for its two surf beaches each of which have completely different water conditions. The first is The Farm and the second further south is known as Mystics. The park is a large oasis of rolling green fields where the manicured hillsides overlook the ocean.
The Farm Cafe
The drive in to the park is an interesting one because you’re literally directed to cut straight through suburbia. Never have we entered a large public reserve via the neighbourhood! We went in, in search of The Farm Cafe and I was half expecting it to be a small run down canteen with maybe 2 or 3 cars parked nearby. Instead we were greeted with lines upon lines of parked vehicles. Oh no I thought to myself, this isn’t the low key destination I was hoping for!! Luckily though, the majority of those cars were there for the weekly 5km Shellharbour parkrun and began leaving soon after… Yasss, Winning!
Killalea Beach AKA The Farm Beach
Starting from one of the carparks near the cafe, you’ll notice a staircase that leads down to the beach. The walk took 5-10 minutes and was relatively easy, especially with the heavenly views. At the bottom we saw a learn to surf van with a group of eager students surrounding it. On the far right was another car park perched on the hillside. This is also where the heaviest concentration of surfers were. The Farm Beach is un-patrolled and has open rolling waves and deep water which means minimal swimmers. Once the waves break they roll toward the shore line in an almost regimented way producing nice predicable patterns perfect for learning. The farm is a great beach for new and intermediate surfers tucked away from the general public.
Minnamurra Beach AKA Mystics Beach
Mystics requires you to climb down a steeper escarpment than The Farm. But going down is never the issue, its coming up you’ve got to think about so make sure you reserve some water for the return trip. Because of the access, its not exactly a beach you want to be bringing the kids, but for everyone else thats great news. You’ll likely be sharing the shoreline with more seagulls than you will people, seriously! The water here is a lot more turbulent with stronger currents and waves crash in the shallows. Oddly enough, theres more swimmers here than at The Farm. We laid out our towels, took a nap then grabbed our new body board and headed for the surf. Following our swim we then took a stroll further south to see what I knew was going to be the highlight of the park.
BONUS: Minnamurra Spit & River Opening
Before we adventure anywhere I like to look at the map to get an idea of the way the land is shaped. Upon seeing the formation of Mystics Beach narrowing to a sand spit and meeting with the Minnamurra River I knew it was going to be something special. What I couldn’t see online was how incredibly clear and calm the water was… until we reached it. I was blown away with this little hidden gem. It’s definitely one of those places the locals don’t want out-of-towners knowing about. There are two deeper channels on either side of the river with a slow current that takes the water out to the ocean. In the middle is a large shallow sand bar similar to those in the Entrance, NSW. Perfect spot for a summer arvo with a cutla mates and a few bevy’s if you ask me!
Killalea State park has outdoor activities for everyone. We’ve already discussed what a surf hotspot this place is and made mention of The Farm Cafe for those who enjoy their coffee with a side of fresh ocean breeze. The Shellharbour parkrun is a FREE weekly event for those wanting to work on their fitness or connect with a community of likeminded people. There’s plenty of grassed areas if a family picnic is more your style of weekend activity. And if water sports are your go-to, then you can throw in your Stand Up Paddle, Kayak, Jetski or Tinny into the Minnamurra river from James Oats Reserve and stay within the calm waters of the spit or head straight out to sea. What we haven’t mentioned yet is that there are unpowered camp sites available for those who like to extend their adventures past the hours of daylight. So the question that remains is, why choose between activities when you can have them all at Killalea?