city in New South Wales, Australia

Heading south, Wollongong starts where Sydney finishes. It is the third largest city in New South Wales behind Sydney and Newcastle and is thinly wedged on a coastal plain between an escarpment and the Pacific Ocean, in the Illawarra region. It is pronounced Wool-un-gong, a word of Aboriginal origin although the translation is not certain. The traditional owners of the land are the Dharawal people.

Understand edit

Geography edit

Geography defines Wollongong, as the city is never more than roughly 6 km at its widest but stretches over 40 km from south to north. Its growth was limited by mountains, which are not so much high as steep, and the sea, Wollongong has grown to include a whole chain of coastal towns, from Dapto and Port Kembla in the south to Bulli, Austinmer, and even up to Stanwell Park in the north. Continuous development has stretched the urban area along the coast as far as Kiama in the distant south but those areas are serviced by the growing centre of Shellharbour.

Most of Wollongong's suburbs, including several popular beach towns, are covered in this article. The very northern suburbs of Helensburgh and Stanwell Park are covered in their own articles; in many ways they have closer ties to southern Sydney than to Wollongong.

Industry edit

Its modern origins are in coal mining and steel production, industries which persist, notably the BlueScope steel facility at Port Kembla to the south. A dedicated port exists for the transport of materials whereas private craft and fishing boats use a separate facility nearer the CBD in Belmore Basin. New industries, such as financial services, information technology, tourism and education are fast becoming trademarks of the city. Wollongong people are proud of the employment and heavy industry in the area, and choose to be more than just an outer commuter suburb for Sydney.

Community edit

The University of Wollongong is popular with local, other Australian and international students. Due to post war migration involving heavy industry, Wollongong also includes a large Mediterranean, Indian and Asian population which has left its mark on the city and means there is a great range of food and entertainment options.

There are many interesting and beautiful locations within easy reach. The immediate area possesses some fine, often uncrowded beaches and reasonable surfing.

Get in edit

By car edit

Grand Pacific Drive to Wollongong

The quickest way from Sydney is to take A1/M1 south. You leave Sydney, and enter greater Wollongong just before the motorway starts. Its about 50 minutes drive to this point, and around another 20 minutes down the motorway to the Wollongong CBD. Expect to take longer in the afternoon peak, Wollongong is a part of the Sydney commuter belt.

If you have a little longer, you can take a route via the Bulli Pass and the Wollongong Northern Beaches. At the end of the motorway the Bulli Pass road throws itself straight down the escarpment and along the coast. The exit is well signposted after the end of the motorway. Add 10 minutes for this diversion.

If you have a little longer still, a very scenic way to see more of Wollongong, the escarpment and the cliffs, is to take the Grand Pacific Drive (official website). Exit from the motorway at Helensburgh through Stanwell Park and down the coast. The road is well signposted to Wollongong. The Sea Cliff Bridge is a highlight of this trip, between Coalcliff and Scarborough.

From the south of Wollongong, follow the Princes Highway (A1) north.

From Canberra or Melbourne, you can access Wollongong via the Illawarra Highway (A48) or via Picton Road (B88). Picton Road offers a faster, straighter trip, while the Illawarra Highway (A48) offers scenery with windy roads and the occasional waterfall and picnic areas. To go the quick, Picton Road (A48) route, ignore the first exit sign to Wollongong from the Hume Highway (M31) at Moss Vale, and take the second, where the exit is also signposted to Picton and Cataract.

By train edit

The train services from Sydney to Wollongong are operated by NSW TrainLink, and have a usual weekday frequency of 15-30 minutes and 60 minutes on weekends. Each four-car train has two quiet carriages for those who want peace and quiet during their journey, and one easy access toilet on board. The trains can get pretty crowded during the morning and evening peaks heading towards and away from Sydney respectively (especially if there are only four carriages), but you should usually get a seat. In the weekday evening peak, these trains fill to standing room only until you pass Sutherland, as well as on Sunday afternoons heading back into Sydney. Similarly to all trains in the region, you can't book a seat, but rather pay with a reloadable Opal Card, a single trip Opal ticket, or a contactless credit/debit card at the Opal gates.

1 Wollongong Station is conveniently located in the CBD, and many of the other suburbs going up and down the coast have their own stations.

The train journey is a scenic, albeit a slow one, traversing the Royal National Park with views of the ocean and forest. Sit on the left-hand side and upstairs (looking in the direction of travel) when travelling from Sydney or the right-hand side travelling to Sydney to get the best views. The trip on the limited stops trains takes around 90 minutes.

By plane edit

Wollongong is primarily serviced by scheduled international and domestic airline flights operating into Sydney Airport (SYD IATA) to the north of the city. Connecting links to Sydney are provided by rail and road.

To get to Wollongong by car from Sydney Airport drive 60 minutes south along the A1 Princes Hwy and M1 Princes Motorway. Follow the signs from the airport towards Wollongong and Rockdale to get to the Princes Highway, and from there follow the road and directional signage south to Wollongong.

To get to Wollongong by train from Sydney Airport, you have two options:

  • catch a T8 Airport Line train one or two stops to Wolli Creek, and then change for a train to Wollongong. All trains to Wollongong stop at Wolli Creek.
  • catch a T8 train to Central, then a South Coast line train down to Wollongong.

The latter is a better option during peak times as you're more likely to find a seat on the train from Central.

Private bus companies operate shuttle services from the airport to any destination door to door in the Illawarra/Wollongong region.

There is an airport (Illawarra Regional/Wollongong) located south of Wollongong in Shellharbour which mostly caters to general aviation flights, though it also has domestic flights as well.

Wollongong Head Lighthouse

By bus edit

If you're coming from south-western Sydney, you can catch the 887 bus from Campbelltown to Wollongong train stations, via Appin and the University of Wollongong. These buses operate with intervals from every half an hour to every hour and a half.

By boat edit

A couple of Royal Caribbean cruise ships a year visit Wollongong, docking at Port Kembla.

Get around edit

By bus edit

Wollongong bus services form part of the Greater Sydney public transport network. You can either use the Opal card or a contactless debit/credit card when boarding the bus – tap the card when you get on and off so you're charged the correct fare. Most bus routes have a service every hour or every 30 minutes.

  • Dions Bus Service. Operates bus services in the northern suburbs of Wollongong, going as far as Austinmer.
  • Premier Coaches (Green's Northern Coaches). Operates bus services between Wollongong and Stanwell Park, as well as between Helensburgh and Stanwell Tops.
  • Premier Illawarra. Operates buses from the suburb of Bellambi (north of Wollongong), to as far south as Kiama.

The free Gong Shuttle Bus operates between the University of Wollongong and the CBD, via Wollongong Station, the Hospital, Burelli St and the UOW's Innovation Campus. On weekends they also stop at North Wollongong station. They run every 10 minutes peak from 7AM-6PM, and every 20 minutes off-peak from 6PM-10PM weekdays, and weekends from 8AM-6PM. These are usually operated by distinctive bright green buses, though the regular blue and white buses are occasionally used. Look out for route numbers 55A and 55C.

Take note that the free buses only stop at bus stops marked by the green Gong Shuttle Bus signboard at the top; they won't stop at ordinary bus stops even if you flagged them down!

There are also the navy blue North Gong (NG) and Gwynneville Keiraville (GK) shuttle buses, operated by the UOW, which are free to ride as well.

By train edit

The northern coastal suburbs of Wollongong are well-serviced by train; however, depending on the station, you can still be a kilometre or so from the beach. Stanwell Park, Austinmer, Coledale, Wombarra and Bulli are the best stations to access nearby beaches, with Austinmer the most popular. All stations see hourly services.

By car edit

A car will take you everywhere in the region you want to go. Parking in the multi-story carparks in the Wollongong CBD is less than $2/hr, up to a maximum of $15. Parking along the Wollongong beaches and foreshore is free. Parking on Sundays is free.

Car hire is also available in Wollongong. Avis, Europcar and Hertz are located in Flinders St, just north of the CBD.

By bike edit

See also: Cycling in New South Wales

An extensive cycle track runs from Wollongong north for 10 km to Thirroul, hugging the scenic beaches, or the same distance south to Windang and Lake Illawarra. This is generally uncrowded and a great way to get a feel for the city and surroundings. Within the city itself, cycling is a bit more challenging thanks to the numerous inclines. However, there are pop-up cycleways on Smith and Harbour Streets to Belmore Basin, and on Kembla Street between Smith and Crown Streets. Cycling is not allowed in Crown St Mall, although people can be seen pedalling through the mall regardless.

A good cycle route could take 60 km mostly off-road from Bulli to Kiama, hugging the coast and headlands the whole way, and passing close to all Wollongong has to offer. You can put your bike on the train for the trip back.

You can hire bikes at Thirroul to ride south:

  • Steel City Cycle, 365 Lawrence Hargrave Drive, Thirroul, +61 2 4267 1747. $40 per day.

or in Wollongong CBD:

By taxi or rideshare edit

The Illawarra Taxi Network (formerly Radio Cabs of Wollongong) and 13cabs serve Wollongong and the surrounding suburbs. The main taxi rank is on Church St next to the Greater Union cinemas. You can also find taxi ranks outside shopping centres in the Illawarra such as in Corrimal, Warrawong, Figtree, and Shellharbour.

Aside from taxis, ridesharing provider Uber also operates around Wollongong.

On foot edit

Despite its hilly topography, Wollongong is a relatively walkable city - you can easily walk from the train station to the Wollongong CBD, and all the way to Wollongong City Beach in about 30 minutes. There are several grey and orange wayfinding signs scattered around the downtown area, most of them situated at major intersections. These indicate the directions to points of interest such as the CBD, Arts Precinct, Wollongong train station, and foreshore.

See edit

Lookouts edit

The escarpment next to Wollongong provides spectacular views over the coastline and city.

  • Bulli Pass (10 min North of Wollongong on the main Sydney road, only accessible by car). Spectacular views over Wollongong and up and down the coast are available from the lookouts at the top of the Bulli Pass. Barbecues, picnic tables and kiosks are available at the lookouts. There are actually three lookout locations here, including Bulli Lookout and Sublime Point. 1 Sublime Point is probably the most famous, and best for a picnic or the view. Sublime Point can be reached by car, or by a steep hike. Bulli Lookout has a restaurant/cafe on the top of the cliff. Free.
  • Mount Keira Lookout (from Wollongong take Tourist Drive 11, Mount Kiera Rd). More spectacular views from the top, as well as some walks and views of the hang-gliders launching. Cafe at the top, serving Devonshire Teas. Worth a visit at night to see the lights of the town. Free.
  • Mount Kembla Lookout (car park off Cordeaux Rd, in the Illawarra Escarpment Conservation Area). Free.

Museums edit

  • 2 Science Space (Science Centre and Planetarium), 60 Squires Way, North Wollongong (Squires Way, Fairy Meadow), +61 2 4286 5000, . Two-storey museum with lots of stuff to do for kids aged 1 to 15 (and their parents, of course). Don't miss the 3PM Planetarium show. $15 for adults and $11 for children.  
  • The HARS Aircraft museum is actually located to the south of Wollongong in Albion Park.

Landmarks and attractions edit

Nan Tien Temple, Unanderra
  • 3 Nan Tien Temple, Berkeley Rd, Berkeley, +61 2 4272 0600, fax: +61 2 4272 0601, . Tuesday to Sunday: 9AM-5PM (open Mondays on public holidays). Opened in October 1995 it is a branch temple of Fo Guang Shan and the biggest Buddhist temple in Australia. "Nan Tien" in Chinese means "Paradise of the South". Reminiscent of Buddhist temples in China, it contains a vegetarian restaurant and has received awards for its beautiful lighting, gardens and architecture. Free.    
  • 4 St Francis Xavier Cathedral (SFX), 36 Harbour St (a block away from WIN Entertainment Centre). This is the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wollongong. A wooden chapel was built in 1836, and a larger, more permanent church was constructed three years later. St Francis Xavier was designated as the Cathedral for the new Diocese of Wollongong in 1951, with the diocese officially being established on 11 February 1952.    
  • 5 WIN Sports & Entertainment Centres (the WEC), Corner of Crown and Harbour Streets (southern end of the Central Business District), +61 2 4220 2800, fax: +61 2 4220 2801, . The Sports stadium hosts rugby league (St.George Illawarra), rugby union, and soccer and has a capacity of 18,500 (11,000 seated). The Entertainment Centre is situated to the north of the stadium and hosts a variety of sports and special events.    
  • 6 Inside Industry - Port Kembla Steelworks, Visitor Centre at the BlueScope Steel Northgate Entrance, Springhill Rd Coniston. The entrance is marked with extremely large Australian and BlueScope Steel flags, +61 2 4275 7023, fax: +61 2 4275 7204, . The Port Kembla Steelworks is located 80 km south of Sydney in the heart of Port Kembla, an industrial suburb in the Greater City of Wollongong, A fully integrated plant with steelmaking capacity of 5 million tonnes a year, the Steelworks is situated on an area of 800 hectares and directly employs up to 6,000 people. The Steelworks is one of the world's most technically advanced producers of high quality slab, plate and strip products. It has become arguably one of Australia's most valuable industries, competing for overseas markets and providing valuable export dollars for the Australian economy. A drive through the area at night can be interesting, with the flames more visible. You can even sometimes see the glow of the hot steel.  
  • 7 Wollongong Head Lighthouse, Endeavour Dr.    
  • 8 Sea Cliff Bridge (take the train to Scarborough or Coalcliff and walk from there). An iconic road bridge that hugs the cliffs between Wollongong and Sydney, with beautiful ocean views. Pedestrians can walk along the bridge, and the flat rocky area below has interesting marine life at low tide – meander down and look for crabs, sea snails, and if you're lucky, seals, manta rays, and octopuses.    

Gardens and parks edit

  • 9 Wollongong Botanical Garden, Murphys Ave, Keiraville (across from the University of Wollongong. Take the route 55C free Gong Shuttle Bus from Crown St near Wollongong Central and get off at the UOW.). A usually uncrowded open space, with duck ponds and short walks. Bring some bread for the ducks, and a picnic. Free.    
  • Lake Illawarra is walkable from Dapto station, or you can catch a bus. If you are coming by train for a walk or cycle by the lake, then Albion Park Rail or Oak Flats may be a better destination - where there are walking/cycle paths to the lake. The lake is also easily accessible from Warrawong. There are regular buses between Wollongong and Warrawong.
  • 10 Illawarra Grevillea Park, Bulli. Open a few times a season 10AM–4PM; check website. Botanical garden with flora from all over Australia, including a planted rainforest area and lots of grevilleas. $7 for adults, free for children.  

Do edit

Swimming and surfing edit

During the summer months, Wollongong has 17 surf beaches to choose from, each with less crowds and more space than most Sydney beaches. All have free foreshore parking, and most are accessible by public transport and bicycle.

To the north of the city try...

  • North Beach. One of the most popular beaches, in front of Stuart Park and the Novotel. There is a kiosk right on the beach as well as other takeaway and restaurant options nearby. You can find a shady spot under the trees in the park, just a few steps from the sand.
  • City (South) Beach. Right at the end of Crown St, by WIN Entertainment Centre. Not as popular as North Beach, perhaps because the views to the south take in the steelworks and dunes rather than parks and headlands. Still, it is nice sand and a place to cool off only minutes walk from the CBD.
  • Austinmer. A very pleasant cove and small beach. Cafes and restaurants across the road, park and barbecues behind, some would say the ultimate beach, sometimes suffers from its popularity. Go early or late on a sunny day.
  • Towradgi. A beach you are sure to get your own stretch of sand.

To the south of the city try..

  • Port Kembla. Maybe the Gong's most underrated beach. Possibly associated with the steelworks and the town, but the beach is over the headland, very pretty, and possibly the longest stretch of sand on the Wollongong coastline. Has parking, is on the coastal cycle track, and is about 2km from Port Kembla station.
  • Windang. Has the caravan park, and a feel more like a south coast beach. Just near the entrance to Lake Illawarra, there are also nearby parks and bicycle rides near the lake.

If you just want to do some laps, or for the kids to splash in the water, try the lap and leisure pools at Beaton Park, on Foley St (off Gipps Rd).

Walk and pedal edit

View from Sublime Point Lookout
  • Cycle. There are designated cycle routes all across the Wollongong Region. If you want coastal scenery, cycle north from Wollongong towards Bulli, all off road and long stretches through parks. If you want to see Wollongong industry close up, cycle south to Port Kembla, passing the steelworks along the way.
  • Mount Keira Ring Track, 5 km loop. A very popular 5 km walk around Mount Keira. Eucalypt and rainforest scenery. However, beware of leeches if there is the slightest bit of rain.
  • Mountain Bike. There are rides for all levels of fitness and technical abilities on or around the escarpment. Rides include fire trails, single track and lightly used roads which provide a good workout for all ages.
  • Hiking. Various trails crisscross the escarpment west of Wollongong's northern suburbs. For instance, some nice hikes start from Foothills Road in Austinmer and Stephen Drive in Woonona.
    • 1 Sublime Point Walking Track. A steep, physically demanding hike through dense forest up the escarpment. Roughly an hour of hiking (if you don't take breaks), including lots of steps and some ladders, is rewarded with beautiful views of the Illawarra and the ships out at sea. The trailhead is about 30 minutes from Austinmer train station on foot. As of October 2022, the top part of the trail is temporarily closed for repairs, though the lookout is still reachable by car.

Big trains and little trains edit

  • Cockatoo Run, toll-free: 1300 65 3801. Sundays. The Cockatoo Run is a vintage train that climbs through the Morton National Park Rainforest to Robertson and Moss Vale. The services run irregularly, and the best place to check for timings in on the Facebook page of the operator.
  • Illawarra Live Steamers, Lot 1 Virginia St, North Wollongong, +61 2 4229 9062. Model train rides are offered to the public on the 4th Sunday of every month down at Stuart Park. Fun for all the family just remember to wear enclosed shoes and no drinking on trains $2 per trip.

Diving edit

  • Shellharbour Scuba Centre. A PADI 5 Star centre about three minutes drive from Bass point offering all facilities including boat dives, nitrox and courses. Some of the best temperate water diving to be encountered anywhere can be found in Wollongong and areas to the south. Bass Point should be your stopping off point as it offers at least a dozen dives suitable to all standards of diver.

Dapto edit

Dapto Mall, Dapto Leagues Club and the Community Centre provide a variety of things to do. There is an annual Street Fair every September on Fathers Day. Following that is the Dapto Show. There are sometimes special shows like Monster Trucks etc during the year. Sunday mornings there are the 'flea markets' where one can find great bargains.

Learn edit

  • 1 University of Wollongong (UOW), Main campus-Northfields Avenue, Gwynneville (next to the Botanical Gardens, shuttle bus service operates from North Wollongong Station), toll-free: 1300 367 869, . The campus is one of the most attractive in Australia, nestled below a subtropical rainforest overlooking the Pacific Ocean at the base of Mount Keira Streams and ponds run throughout the area. Cars are kept to the perimeter of the campus. It is worth a visit purely as an attraction of the city. The university punches above its weight in academic achievement and accolades as far as regional universities go.  

Buy edit

  • 1 Wollongong Central, 200 Crown St, +61 2 4228 5999. The largest shopping centre in the Illawarra, Wollongong Central incorporates what used to be known as Crown Central and Crown Gateway malls. Its architecture is a reflection the region - the steelworks, the escarpment, and the ocean.    
  • 2 Crown Street Mall. A pedestrian mall on Crown St from Keira St in the west to Kembla St in the east, with the main department stores, cafes and specialty stores lining both sides. At the centre is a small stage, where local talent (schools and dance groups) often perform on weekends. Every Thursday from 5PM-9PM there is an evening market called Eat Street, which has numerous stalls serving a variety of local and international food. On Fridays from 8AM-2PM is the Friday Forage Market, where you can buy locally-grown and organic produce and pastries.
  • 3 Warrawong Plaza, Cnr King & Cowper St, Warrawong. The usual obligatory and formulaic chain stores, food halls, and supermarket shopping, with cinemas and shopping strips in most of the northern beachside suburbs along the Princes Highway.
  • 4 Lederer - Corrimal (Stockland - Corrimal), 270 Princes Highway, Corrimal, +61 2 42831133. 9AM - 5PM hours vary.
  • 5 Foragers Market Bulli, Bulli Showground, Bulli. Second Sunday of the month, 9AM–2PM. Monthly market with food, drinks, crafts, live music, and a community atmosphere. Excellent vegan pastries available. $1 for entry.

Eat edit

Everything about Wollongong's eateries is excellent. Most restaurants are located on either Keira St or Corrimal St, but don't be afraid to venture down a laneway, or further north or south to the outer suburbs, to find great food. There is something for everyone.

Budget edit

  • 1 Food World. Chinese and Vietnamese food, big meals and very cheap. Mains $8-10. Great atmosphere. They have some of the most satisfying Chinese food for prices that don't ever seem to be affected by inflation. Highly recommended if you want a quick, cheap and filling meal; try the chicken and rice.
  • 2 Amigo's Mexican Restaurant. A casual Mexican place which serves huge tasty Mexican meals. Recommended are the Lunchtime Special (meal and drink for $8.50) and $3 tacos (Tuesday nights, 5:30PM - 9:30PM), which is very popular with students.
  • Fujiyama Teppanyaki Restaurant, 12 Daisy St, Fairy Meadow, +61 2 4283 8830. Japanese and Chinese restaurant. Chefs cook the food at the BBQ in front of (and sometimes behind) your eyes. A delight to the senses at budget prices.

Mid-range edit

  • 3 City Diggers Wollongong (RSL), 82 Church St, +61 2 4225 2563, fax: +61 2 4225 2685. Nice atmosphere, but on weekends reservations are highly suggested. Food gets served within 10-15 minutes. Mains: $13-17. Beer: $4-6.
  • 4 Dagwood, 19 Market St, +61 2 4228 6504, . W Th 4–10PM, F Sa noon–midnight, Su 11:45AM–10PM. An eclectic mix of American and East Asian food – burgers, dumplings, drinks, etc. Indoor and outdoor seating. Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options.
  • Mylan. There are a number of Vietnamese restaurants around (Mylan, Twins, Ha Long Bay etc) Mylan is by far the best and is always busy. Book ahead if you can.
  • 5 Jasmine Rice, 131 Corrimal St, +61 2 4226 2495. 11:30AM–2:30PM, 5:30–10:00PM daily. Thai food with traditional seating on cushions in one room or tables and chairs in another. The food is consistently good, although dearer than some of the other Thai restaurants.
  • Roppongi, Market St (Close to Extreme surf store and the Illawarra Hotel), +61 2 4226 3243. Japanese styled restaurant. Choose from the sashimi (raw fish) to delicious Japanese salad and schnitzel with special sauce. If you want to indulge in a more cultural experience you can also sit in the Japanese style room where you sit on cushions. The lunchtime special is also great for those on a budget as they continue the Japanese tradition of offering cheaper prices for the dinner meals.
  • 6 Thai Carnation (Corner of Corrimal and Crown St), +61 2 4228 4102. Popular Thai restaurant. Duck curry is served with lots of fresh vegetables and some fresh grapes, the duck is succulent and tender while the broth is mild but tasty.
  • 7 Two Mountains, 364 Lawrence Hargrave Dr, Thirroul, +61 2 4286 0535. W Th 8AM–3PM; F Sa 8AM–3PM, 5–9PM; Su 8AM–3PM. Casual eatery serving brunch and lunch, with outdoor seating and vegetarian/vegan options. $15-25.
  • 8 Lettuce B. Frank, 337 Crown St, +61 2 4228 5288, . Popular cafe with a healthy/natural vibe and all-day breakfast. Indoor and outdoor seating. $20–30.
  • 9 Kinn Thai Restaurant, 117 Wollongong Central. Often busy, and for good reason. Book in advance if you can. $30.
  • 10 His Boy Elroy, Keira Street. Su–Th 11:30AM–9PM, F Sa 11:30AM–10PM. Popular burger joint and bar with indoor and outdoor seating.

Splurge edit

Drink edit

A growing city, Wollongong city holds a wide variety of bars. Generally, pubs close to the city but not in the actual CBD/North Wollongong proper tend to have unsavoury reputations. Wednesday nights are 'uni nights', and at places such as Castros and the Grand feature drink specials and cheap or free entry - expect a lot of young patrons.

  • The North Wollongong Pub (North Gong for short) (North Wollongong train station). The "local" for the University of Wollongong, across the Princes Hwy from the North Wollongong train station. Major renovations in 2006 provided several bars, including a spacious outdoor garden, a bistro and bar inside, and a more formal (and dress-coded so you can't just wear your thongs/flip-flops) upstairs cocktail lounge. Although frequented by UOW students, North Gong remains popular with all ages.
  • Hotel Illawarra (Illawarra). Large hotel/pub that has been refurbished in wood and chrome. It receives the early morning crowd as it is the only bar that consistently closes at 3AM most nights of the week. Somewhat upper-class. Dress in smart casual.
  • The Grand Hotel (previously known as Cooneys) (at the south end of Keira St). A three part hotel. One features a number of 'pokies', pool tables, a bar, game machines and a lounge area. The second is a large outdoor beer garden and smoking area, while the third is a proper nightclub, complete with DJ booth and impressively sized dance floor and two separate bars. Hosts local and international acts on occasion.
  • Harp Hotel, 124 Corrimal St. A 'working class' pub with two bars (And a third that is only open day times or during special events, such as Australia day, for punters) featuring pokies, karaoke on Saturday nights, some live music Thursday evenings and a crowd of locals the rest of the time. The 'new bar' features a night club and a window onto the smoking section and the old bar is an area with a stage and a number of seating options.
  • Five Barrels Brewing, 318 Keira St (for directions see below), +61 2 4200 8881, . Craft beer and burgers.
  • Dicey Riley's, 329-333 Crown St. An Irish hotel near Wollongong Train Station. Once known for being 'dicey', it is now one of the only venues in Wollongong to have live music on Friday and Saturday nights. With a new bistro, The Red Fox, it is the place to be. Especially on St Patrick's Day.
  • Fever Nightclub. Opens at 9PM yet is the only bar in town open past 3AM. Fever closes at 6AM weekend evenings, so if you want to make the most of a night out, it is the place to be! The club is smaller than some of the other venues in town, but makes up for it in atmosphere. The bar staff are entertaining, drink prices low and the music always lures you to the light-up dancefloor.
  • The Builders Club, 61 Church St (close to the CBD). Mainly older laidback crowd but The Builders is also very popular with students taking advantage of cheap drinks and $2 pool. The Builders is fantastic for a few early drinks and then maybe kicking on to the nightclubs later. Worth visiting to see the huge mural painted on the front wall. Thursday night and Friday day poker games.
  • 1 Humber, 226 Crown Street (corner of Crown Ln and Crown St), +61 2 4263-0355, . W–F 3PM–late, Sa noon–late, Su 2:30PM–late. Cocktail bar with a rooftop terrace.
  • 2 Night Parrot Wine Bar, 69 Crown Street, . Open from 5PM daily.
  • 3 Illawarra Brewery, Eastern Terrace, Win Entertainment Centre, Crown Street, +61 2 4220 2854, . Su–Tu 11AM–8PM, W–F 11AM–10PM, Sa 11AM–11PM. Craft beer, wine, and food (with vegetarian and vegan options). Hosts a lively and challenging trivia competition 7PM–9PM on Wednesdays (open to any teams, but book before coming as the tables fill up) and Drag Bingo at 7PM on Thursdays.
  • 4 3SixT Nutrition, 373-375 Princes Hwy, Woonona (on Russell St). M Tu 7:30AM–4PM, W-F 7:30AM–6PM, Sa Su 8AM–3PM. Cheerful, chatty staff make tea drinks and smoothies with added vitamins and minerals. Several of the smoothies can be made vegan. $11.50 for a smoothie.

Sleep edit

Budget edit

  • 1 Downtown Motel, 76 Crown St, +61 2 4229 8344.
  • 2 Motel Harp (Harp Mhotel), 124 Corrimal St.
  • 3 Thirroul Beach Motel, 222-226 Lawrence Hargrave Drive, Thirroul, +61 2 4267 2333, +61 488 005 962 (reception), . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10AM. Unpretentious lodging a block from the beach in the northern suburb of Thirroul. Rooms available with mini-kitchens (fridge, microwave, and dishes) and reliable Wi-Fi. Check-in information is sent by SMS, so make sure you have a valid Australian mobile number. The staff are friendly but there's no designated reception area, so you'll likely have to call if you need something.

Mid-range edit

Splurge edit

Connect edit

Most of Wollongong has good mobile phone and data reception with all three carriers. You can easily get download speeds of at least 30Mbps in the CBD. However in the northern suburbs like Fairy Meadow and Corrimal, the Vodafone and Optus reception are quite poor (more so if you're not close to Princes Highway). If you'd be spending most of your time away from the downtown area, it's best to have either a Telstra SIM card or an operator like Boost Mobile that shares their network. Even then, coverage may be dicey in outlying suburbs like Austinmer where the escarpment can block signals.

There are a few coffee shops and McDonald's that offer free WiFi. Wollongong Library has free internet access at all libraries, and free WiFi at the City Library (ask staff for a ticket with username/password). The city library is in the council building on Burelli St, which runs parallel to and one street south of Crown St.

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  • Illawarra Mercury – the Illawarra region's daily newspaper, printing a mixture of quaintly mundane local stories, sensational crime reporting, and useful advice about upcoming events in the area.

Stay safe edit

There are some cases of drink-spiking so never leave your drink unattended. If you believe your drink has been spiked, speak to the security staff immediately. They will determine whether you have been spiked or not and if so will call an ambulance for you to ensure your safety.

Alcohol-fueled violence is common in town at night, primarily in Crown Street Mall and around takeaway food shops. Also beware of groups of young men in cars at City Beach (South Beach) at night and the Lagoon carpark. Do not wander around Unanderra and Dapto at night - both are unsafe, and sometimes during the day. Figtree can be nearly as bad, and Thursday nights in Crown Street Mall are often similar.

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From Wollongong you can follow the coast southwards towards the Victorian border along the Princes Highway. This road is quite an interesting stretch of highway in Australia in that it follows the coast and headlands, giving you views as you drive along it. Many other coastal Australian highways usually stay a small distance from the coast, requiring side trips to see the scenery. At Batemans Bay you can turn inland to the Hume Highway via Braidwood to Canberra and Melbourne via the highway.

The Illawarra Highway (A48) is a scenic route through the Southern Highlands to the Hume Motorway/Highway. The road winds its way up through the Macquarie Pass, through Robertson and then on to the open road.

  • Royal National Park. Travel north to the world's second national park and camp by the beach.
  • Kiama Blowhole. Travel south by train or car to Kiama, and visit the blowhole. The wait is worth it.
  • Kangaroo Valley. Kangaroo Valley is a peaceful location, inland of Nowra, and hour south of Wollongong.
  • Minnamurra Rainforest and the larger, Budderoo National Park, near Jamberoo, is one of the state's most visited national parks. There's a visitors centre and many boardwalks through subtropical rainforest. Go early in the morning for the best chance at seeing wildlife such as lyrebirds and wombats.

If you are staying in Wollongong, Sydney is a fairly comfortable day trip.

Routes via Wollongong
SydneyHelensburgh N M1 S  ShellharbourNowra
MacarthurAppin NW B69 SE  END
Picton W B88 E  END

This city travel guide to Wollongong is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.