Man crosses blowhole on tightrope

jarratt-band-1951What was the most interesting thing you saw in Kiama during the summer holidays?

In January 1889, residents and visitors were amazed to watch Charles Jackson walk across a tightrope, which was strung across the Blowhole. The crowd cheered him on each time he crossed.

Kiama has had quite a history as a place of entertainment from the earliest days of settlement. The town site was reserved in 1826, and only 23 years later in 1849 Kiama held its first agricultural show, showcasing the dairy produce, fruit, vegetables, grains pork and poultry. Kiama also held regular town picnics in the 1860’s that included singing, dancing, hurling and throwing the sledge. Another important form of entertainment was horse racing. A race course was built at Woodstock, Jamberoo in 1867 and at Monkey Flat, Minnamurra in 1877, but races were held along Seven Mile Beach as early as 1860.

kiama-1828-cricket-george-holden-bottom-rightSport is a great social occasion for many residents in the Kiama Municipality. Cricket has been a popular sport in Kiama from the mid 1850’s and rugby union has been played since the 1890’s. Kiama even boasted a skating rink in 1879, which was well attended by local youths. The public baths were an early addition to Kiama, with the men’s and ladies baths built by 1888 and a swimming club started in 1893. Two Lawn tennis courts were created in 1892 in the excavations left from the harbour works on Blowhole Point, and a golf course was laid out on Chapman Pt in 1903.

With Kiama's gorgeous beaches, both visitors and residents enjoy swimming and surfing all year. Up to 1907 however, the Town Police Act meant fines could be issued to those caught swimming in view of a public place. John Holbrook was fined 10 shillings for bathing at Surf Beach in 1895. Despite demands for public surfing facilities, these weren’t made available until the Surf Bathers Club was started at Kendall’s Beach in 1908 and the Kiama Surf Club in 1912. By 1915 it was agreed that ‘the baths and surfing were the greatest pleasure of a holiday in Kiama’.