What You Need To Know
Wollongong, informally referred to as “The Gong”, is a seaside city located in the Illawarra region of New South Wales, Australia. Wollongong lies on the narrow coastal strip between the Illawarra Escarpment and the Pacific Ocean, 82 kilometres (51 miles) south of Sydney. Wollongong had an estimated urban population of 295,842 at June 2016, making it the thirdlargest city in New South Wales after Sydney and Newcastle, and the tenth largest city in Australia. The Wollongong metropolitan area extends from Helensburgh in the north to Shell Cove in the south. It sits within the Wollongong Statistical District, which covers the local authority areas of Wollongong, Shellharbour and Kiama, extending from the town of Helensburgh in the north to Gerroa in the south Geologically, the city is located in the south-eastern part of the Sydney basin, which extends from Newcastle to Nowra. Wollongong is noted for its heavy industry, its port activity and the quality of its physical setting, occupying a narrow coastal plain between an almost continuous chain of surf beaches and the cliffline of the rainforest-covered Illawarra escarpment. It has two cathedrals, churches of many denominations and the Nan Tien Temple, the largest Buddhist temple in the southern hemisphere.Wollongong has a long history of coalmining and industry. The city attracts many tourists each year, and is a regional centre for the South Coast fishing industry. The University of Wollongong has around 37,000 students and is internationally recognised. The name “Wollongong” is believed to mean “seas of the South” in the local Aboriginal language, referring to NSW’s Southern Coast. Other meanings have been suggested, such as “great feast of fish”, “hard ground near water”, “song of the sea”, “sound of the waves”, “many snakes” and “five islands”.
Population: Estimate 297,305
Area: 684 km²
Entertainment and Nightlife
Entertainment venues include the Crown Street Mall, many restaurants and cafes, the town cinemas and the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre. Adjacent to WIN Stadium, the home ground of the NRL team St. George Illawarra Dragons, is the WIN Entertainment Centre: a multipurpose venue which hosts concerts and sporting events (including Southern Stars, basketball and motocross stunt shows). There are numerous city nightclubs, pubs & registered clubs; Including The Illawarra Master Builders Club, The Grand Hotel (back to its original name, after being called Cooney’s for a few years), The Glasshouse Tavern, One Five One (Formerly Bourbon St and originally Cousins), Castros (Formerly Rusty’s), The Illawarra Hotel, The Harp Hotel, and The North Wollongong Hotel. Most suburbs also have their own hotels, each with individual character.
About 18% of Australians speak a language other than English. Australian Indigenous languages are spoken by about 0.3% of the total population. The most common languages other than English are: Italian, Greek, Cantonese, Arabic, Mandarin and Vietnamese.
Wollongong is home to one daily newspaper The Illawarra Mercury issued Monday to Saturday, in addition to several free community newspapers including the Wollongong Advertiser incorporating Lake Times and Kiama Independent. Wollongong and the Illawarra region is serviced by three commercial television networks – WIN Television, Prime7 and Southern Cross Nine. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) also broadcast television services to Wollongong. In addition to these channels, ten new channels broadcasting in are also available in Wollongong and the greater Illawarra region. These channels include ABC2, ABC3, ABC News 24, 7TWO, 7mate, 9GO!, 9GEM, One, Eleven and SBS Viceland. In some areas it is also possible to pick up Sydney channels. Subscription Television service Austar is also available via satellite. Of the three main commercial TV networks, WIN (whose network base is located in Wollongong) produces a 30-minute local news bulletin for its local broadcast area and a late night statewide bulletin for southern New South Wales and the ACT each weeknight. Prime7 and Southern Cross Nine also air short local news updates throughout the day. The region receives five ABC radio services – ABC Illawarra 97.3FM, Triple J 98.9, and Radio National 1431 AM, ABC Classic FM 95.7 and Newsradio 90.9FM. There are two commercial radio stations i98FM 98.1 and WAVE FM 96.5 – formerly 2WL, and two community radio stations Vox FM 106.9 and Christian broadcaster 94.1 FM. Nowra’s Power FM 94.9 also reaches the city, as do most Sydney commercial radio stations.
Wollongong has a number of primary and high schools, including public, denominational and independent. Specialist high schools include the selective Smith’s Hill High School, the Illawarra Sports High School, The Illawarra Grammar School, St Mary Star of the Sea College (all-girls Catholic high school), Edmund Rice College (all-boys Catholic high school), Holy Spirit College (Co-education High School),Cedars Christian College, Illawarra Christian School and Wollongong High School of the Performing Arts.
The main road connecting Wollongong is the M1 Princes Motorway (formerly the F6). The motorway, part of National Route 1, descends the escarpment via Mount Ousley Road to enter the city near the University of Wollongong and exits at its southern fringe. A second freeway, Memorial Drive (formerly the Northern Distributor), continues northward from the university to connect Wollongong’s northern suburbs, Bulli Pass and the scenic Lawrence Hargrave Drive. The Illawarra Highway connects Wollongong’s southern suburbs to the Southern Highlandsvia Macquarie Pass.
Wollongong is served by the Illawarra railway line. Passenger rail services on this line connect the centres of Nowra and Kiama to the south and Sydney to the north. A branch line connects suburbs between the CBD and Port Kembla. A passenger rail service connecting Wollongong to the Southern Highlands has since been replaced with a coach service. Wollongong railway station is the city’s main train station, and serves Wollongong’s CBD. Freight services connect Sydney markets with Port Kembla and the Manildra Group factory at Bomaderry. The Southern Highlands line is used primarily for freight, providing an important bypass for Sydney’s congested rail network.
Route services in Wollongong are provided by Premier Illawarra and Dion’s Bus Service who also provide school/charter services together with some other companies. Wollongong railway station serves as the network’s hub. Services connect Wollongong suburbs to Shellharbour, Lake Illawarra and the Royal National Park. There is also a Free Shuttle Bus service that connects the CBD, University and the suburbs of North Wollongong, Fairy Meadow and Gwynneville.
Wollongong is serviced by Illawarra Regional Airport, also known as the Wollongong Airport. The Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) is based at the airport. The Airport is located in Albion Park Rail, in the Shellharbour City LGA. There are multiple air charter businesses including NSW Air, EliteJet and Touchdown Helicopters.
Wollongong has an oceanic climate (Cfb), but with humid subtropical (Cfa) influences as its warmest month mean of 21.9 °C (71.4 °F) is just below the subtropical isotherm of 22 °C (72 °F). The highest recorded temperature is 44.1 °C on 1st January 2006, and the lowest 0.8 °C on 27th July 1986. Annually, Wollongong receives 107.4 clear days. Rainfall is fairly evenly distributed throughout the seasons, with a bias to the first half of the year. It is often associated with orographic lift caused by the escarpment. A significant flood event occurred on 18 August 1998 when Wollongong recorded 316 mm of rainfall (the nearby suburb of Mt Ousley recorded in excess of 445 mm), mostly falling in a 3-hour period. Wollongong also experiences thunderstorms during the warmer months bringing lightning, heavy rain and occasionally hail. July and August are known as the windy months, with westerly gales that can gust at over 100 km/h.