Ask a local: Jamberoo Action Park
Discover adventures and family fun on the South Coast with Matt George, general manager of Jamberoo Action Park, one of the state's most-visited attractions.
A lifelong local, Matt has plenty of suggestions for visitors, including iconic outdoor attractions, family-friendly eateries and hidden spots near Wollongong and Kiama. Read on for his highlights.
First thing’s first: what sets the region apart?
It’s where the mountains meet the sea, with all the nature-based activities you could ask for, and townships that are historic, vibrant and full of welcoming locals. When you get here, you really feel like you’ve escaped the hustle and bustle.
And why should travellers visit Jamberoo Action Park?
I might be biased, but I reckon it’s the most exciting water theme park in Australia. It’s a great day out for the entire family in a very picturesque setting. We’re part of the history of the region – we celebrated our 40th season in 2020 – and we’re family owned and operated, which adds pride and passion to the experience we provide. We’re also building a new precinct, Velocity Falls, which will feature three world-class water attractions and will open in time for the summer 2021/22 season.
What else can you recommend for visitors who love the water?
There’s something so majestic and relaxing about waterfalls, and we’re lucky to have several beautiful examples in the Illawarra, including Minnamurra Falls in the Minnamurra Rainforest
How about a beach? Preferably one that’s not too crowded!
It would have to be Minnamurra Beach – or Mystics, as the locals call it – in near Shellharbour. There are two great surf beaches in the area, and this is the less visited of the two. It’s just a few hundred metres south of Killalea Beach, also known as The Farm, and it’s just as picturesque, but it’s never as crowded because it’s hidden away.
What’s your pick for a crowd-pleasing bushwalk?
The Wodi Wodi Track and Sublime Point provide some great views of Wollongong. I have two sons aged five and 10, and they have shorter attention spans, so this walk is ideal, because it only takes about 45min. But even though it’s short and close to the city, it really does feel secluded. You wouldn’t know how close you are to Wollongong until you get to those breathtaking views.
What else do you and your sons get up to on free days?
The three of us are suckers for a good burger, so if it’s a father-and-sons day, it usually includes a stop at either the Hungry Monkey in Kiama or His Boy Elroy in Wollongong. Getting takeaway and walking to the beach is always an option, but both places also have great dine-in menus. Both businesses are really strong supporters of the local community, too: they put a lot of money back into the region.
How about a more grown-up dining experience?
For location, food and service, you can’t beat Steamers Bar and Grill in Wollongong. It’s on the foreshore and is the ideal spot for a longer, more relaxed meal. Because they change the menu seasonally, there’s always something new to try. There are plenty of share plates, too, so you and your friends can taste almost everything together.
Where do you suggest couples go for an afternoon or evening date?
Kiama is such a beautiful little spot for that. The Art Bar is probably my favourite venue there: it’s well off the beaten track and offers a combination of fantastic contemporary art by local artists, exquisite tapas-style food, international wines and craft beer. If you can visit on a Sunday afternoon, there’s live music, too. From The Art Bar, it’s an easy stroll to another hidden gem: the Little Blowhole, which may not be as well-known as its larger cousin but is just as special.