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Exploring Wollongong

The city of Wollongong is the third-largest metropolitan area in New South Wales, behind the state capital, Sydney, and Newcastle. It rests immediately to the south of Greater Sydney, in the beautiful coastal region of Illawarra. The city is renowned as one of Australia’s heaviest industrial sites, and boasts a large and busy port that has steered the city’s economy for decades. However, tourism plays a major role in the city’s current success.

There are numerous sites worth visiting when exploring Wollongong and its surrounding area. More than a dozen surf beaches reside along the coast here, while places like the Crown Street Mall and Flagstaff Hill Fort shouldn’t be overlooked. Visitors will find plenty of hotels within the city limits, from well-known, high-end hotels to small, family-run lodgings. Many of the lodgings are within a kilometre of the coastline, so Wollongong’s grand beaches are never far away. A train line connects passengers with Sydney, some 80kms to the north, in less than an hour.

Sights nearby

Wollongong boasts several impressive natural and man-built attractions. Many of these draws are accessible via the convenient public transport service in the city.

- Wollongong North Beach

Located close to Stuart Park, in the heart of Wollongong, is North Beach. During the summer, this is arguably the most visited beach in the city. The rolling surf is phenomenal and the sand is great for children. If visitors get hungry from all the surfing, swimming, and sunbathing, there are several restaurants and cafés close to the beach, and a kiosk almost resting on the sand. Stuart Park is an ideal spot to escape the heat as it rests ‘behind’ the beach. Several hotels are located nearby, including the impressive Novotel Wollongong Northbeach.

- Crown Street Mall

Found along Wollongong’s main thoroughfare, Crown Street Mall is a pedestrian-only precinct made famous for its excellent dining and shopping. The former sites of Crown Gateway and Crown Central have now merged into Wollongong Central, which is a large shopping mall that caters to thousands of shopaholics each day. Visiting on a Friday is recommended as this is when the lower section of the mall is transformed into a bustling marketplace.

- Flagstaff Hill Fort

Built in 1891, the historic Flagstaff Hill Fort is a beautiful part of the Wollongong coastline. The site is home to several 68-pound cannon guns, which were first put into service in 1892. In addition to these guns, the fort is famous for its interesting armament stock building and the nearby Wollongong Head Lighthouse. Numerous hotels rest near this landmark which overlooks the Tasman Sea, including the modern Chifley Wollongong.

Eating and drinking and shopping nearby

The best places to shop in Wollongong are found along Crown Street Mall, which not only boasts major department stores like Myers and David Jones, but a local market every Friday. The large Westfield Shopping Mall is also located at Warrawong. The best dining establishments tend to be found along Keira Street or Corrimal Street, although the city’s cosmopolitan culture means great restaurants are situated even in the outer suburbs. Bars and clubs are found throughout the city, including in the CBD, and remain active until the early hours of the morning.

Public transport

The city is served by a railway line which branches off at Port Kembla, to serve the industrial area there. Wollongong Station is the hub of the rail service. However, it is also the primary point for the city’s public bus network. A public bus loop which traverses the downtown area of the city is offered free of charge so getting around is simple as well as cheap.