Known as one of the hardest but most scenic events in Australia, Shellharbour parkrun is held in the picturesque Reflections Killalea Reserve, where you will also find two of Australia’s premier surfing beaches – Mystics and The Farm. Located within the suburb of Shell Cove, the Killalea Reserve was named after Edward Killalea, a dairy farmer in the 1850s.
The Farm Beach, which parkrunners traverse is approximately 400m in length. It is the one variable that ensures Shellharbour parkrun is never the same from one week to the next – it can be like quicksand or concrete depending on the tide each week! Many parkrunners also make the trek back down to the beach, post-parkrun, for a quick dip to freshen up or cool down!
Shellharbour parkrun was the 75th event to launch in Australia, the second event on the south coast of NSW, following Sandon Point. From 53 parkrunners at the inaugural event on June 14, 2014, it has grown from an average field of 100 parkrunners in our first year, to averaging just on 200 per week as we finish off our fifth year. The Easter long weekend is one of the most popular days, with over 380 parkrunners attending this year!
A one-lap, anti-clockwise loop of the Killalea Lagoon, starting and finishing at The Farm Café – from where you can take in the picturesque views looking across both the lagoon and The Farm Beach. The undulating trail of the course features a good mix of grass, gravel and approximately 400m of beach running across the beach, but with no concrete or bitumen, the course is challenging for pram-runners. The Killalea Reserve is also off limits to all dogs. There are permanent kilometre markings accurately placed along the course, as well as marshalls in all key locations.
Carparking is plentiful and adjacent to the start/finish area. There are also camping and caravan sites available for booking within the park. Wildlife, including many varieties of birds, wallabies, echidnas, possums, kookaburras, turtles, snakes, dolphins have been sighted at different times during the year. And, as with all parkrun events, the event team are passionate about ensuring every single visitor to their event leaves knowing they were made welcome and they then become an ambassador for Shellharbour where-ever they tourist to next.
Event Director Brendan Scollary says “Our whole family have been involved in running for nearly 40 years, and when we took part in our first event (at Sandon Point) we knew that our home of Shell Cove/Shellharbour would be perfect for a parkrun. We worked with the founding ED to establish Shellharbour parkrun and have been on-board since day one. It’s our favourite day of the week and we’re all involved in some way. For our daughter Em, who was born with Williams Syndrome, it is the perfect outlet for her to socialise with her friends each week, meet new people and use her endearing skills in welcoming them to Shellharbour parkrun.
Shellharbour parkrun played host to the inaugural “parkrun Adventurers Listener Meetup”, in 2018. “palm” as it is now affectionately known, was the brain-child of Gary “Mr parkrun” Murphy. “palm” is held at a pre-determined parkrun event, where listeners of the “parkrun Adventurers” podcast can come together and share their love of all things parkrun. Shellharbour will be remembered as hosting the first “palm” event and went a long way to ensure “palm” remains an important annual event on parkrun Australia’s calendar.
Volunteering is a big thing at Shellharbour, and as with all events with have those who “do” and those who “don’t, and that’s fine … but then we have Ron Sullivan … Ron has volunteered at his favourite position (the 4km point) over 50 times and is yet to complete a parkrun! Thank you Ron!
Based within the growing community of Shell Cove, the local community has fully embraced the parkrun concept and regularly see multi-generations of families in attendance. The local primary and secondary schools all have students participating regularly, seeing improved results in both athletic and cross-country achievements, with some students going on to becoming state representatives. We also have a growing number of students embracing parkrun for their volunteering and sporting facets for their Duke of Edinburgh awards. Volunteering has also been widely embraced by our community.
The Farm Café is located right at the start/finish-line and is open from 7.00am until mid-afternoon. It has a wide selection of affordable liquid replenishments, good coffee, tea and hot chocolate, ice-creams and hot food. There is plenty of undercover and outdoor seating and is well patronised by parkrunners and visitors. There are also toilet facilities located conveniently in this facility. Killalea Reserve is off limits to dogs at all times.
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