M is for Mt Keira.
Mt Keira and Mt Kembla although not mighty alps, dominate the Illawarra Escarpment. These landforms are of considerable significance to the local Dharawal people, who refer to Mt Kembla as the men’s mountain and Mt Keira as the women’s mountain.
Along with Mt Keira and Mt Kembla, there are also other suburbs called Mt Pleasant, Mt St Thomas, Marshall Mount and Mt Ousley.
Mt Keira is a small residential suburb on the side of Mt Keira itself. This flat peak of mostly sandstone rises 434 M above sea level. Only 460 families call Mt Keira home, but it is a very popular recreational venue for visitors and locals alike. There is a charming picnic ground at Byarong Park which is also one of the trailheads for the Mt Keira Ring Track. In addition to this walking track, there are few sidetracks and other mountain bike tracks which are well used.
There is both a Scout Camp and a Guides Camp, parts of which can be hired for private functions.
Mt Keira Ring Track
The Ring Track is around 5.5 km long and encircles the Mt Keira Summit. The track has recently been renovated, and you can now walk all the way around. Before this, the section below the Mt Kiera Lookout was closed due to rock falls. The renovation has seen the installation of hundreds of steps and a few boardwalks.
There is a Summit Park, which has a cafe. The cafe opens Thursdays – Sundays and has a magnificent view over the entire Wollongong coastal plain.
I walked the Ring Track on the first weekend in October 2019. It took me longer than I expected because I took wrong turns, twice. While it is well signposted there are a few anomalies with the directional markers which meant I missed the two crucial turns. The 5.5 km walk became 10.7 km!
I was pleased to come across a stand of waratahs which I otherwise would have missed so being lost was a serendipitous adventure. Waratahs are NSW State emblem and are relatively rare. Their showy, glossy red flowers really stand out in the olive green Australian bushscape.
Mt Keira is definitely worth a visit. Take your walking shoes and a picnic basket.