Traffic and motor cars
Kiama saw its first motor vehicle on 11th August 1902 and although the driver was on their way to Bega from Sydney, he had an untimely end to his journey at Broughton Village. Running over an embankment meant the car had to be transported back to Sydney by train. This vehicle claimed another first - the first car accident in the district.
It took some time before motor vehicles became integral to life as we know it today. The dangers these early vehicles presented to pedestrians and those on horses was also a feature of the times.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported the following on 22nd May, 1905:
'A good deal of consternation was caused in Jamberoo this morning by the passage of a motor car travelling at a rapid rate along the main street of the village, which at the time was crowded with vehicles. In some cases great difficulty was experienced in re-straining the animals, which, as yet, have not become used to motors. It is thought that the municipal bodies will have to pass bylaws regulating the speed of motor cars.
See car bottom left entering Kiama bends
And on 3rd September, 1907 this report about 'Callous Motorists' also came from the Herald:
'As Mr. Thomas Brennan, manager of the Woodstock Butter Factory, Jamberoo, was driving along the main road yesterday, the horse took fright at a motor car, and became unmanageable, Mr. Brennen was thrown out of the sulky, sustaining a fractured arm. The vehicle was smashed, and the horse injured. The occupants of the motor car cleared away as quickly as possible, leaving the injured man to his fate.’
The roads themselves were not entirely suitable for motor vehicles either. In November 1909, the Alkin Family was making the perilous descent on Jamberoo Mountain, when they discovered that the brakes could not hold their vehicle. They had to drive into an embankment and all passengers were very bruised and the car badly damaged.
Although for some time, the usual form of local transport was still the horse, by October 1919 there was a record number of motor vehicles. In just 2 hours, 12 vehicles had been counted driving through Kiama township. Eight years later there were enough vehicles using the local roads that Kiama Council supported a recommendation to outlaw racing motorists from attempting road record speed tests.
With the popularity of the car, Kiama and the surrounding area became a favourite destination for touring. On 4 February, 1904, The Examiner from Launceston, Tasmania, told us how the then Opposition Leader,
'Mr. G. H. Reid is spending an enjoyable holiday at Kiama, on the south coast of New South Wales. He makes excursions around the district in a motor car.'
By the mid 1920’s, motorists had discovered a fantastic venue for car speed tests. Seven Mile Beach became known as the Gerringong Speedway and it was a popular outing to attend the races. Various car and motor cycle groups from all around came to race. The Goulburn Motorcycle Club visited in 1923, when 75 miles per hour was clocked on a 4 cylinder Henderson motor bike.
In 1933, cars used their headlights to provide extra illumination for the first commercial aeroplane flight between Australia and New Zealand. Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith used Seven Mile Beach as the runway for this auspicious flight and several thousand people came to watch the 2:30am take off. Another era of transport had begun.