Christmas Eat & Drink Out & About

Group Party Ideas for the Illawarra

Celebrate any occasion with your crew in the Illawarra

We never need much of an excuse to celebrate with our pals here in the Illawarra.

It could be a team building day, friends’ day out, pre-wedding celebration, family reunion or even end-of-year work shindig [‘tis the season after all], there’s always some reason to get together.

If you’re the one who’s been saddled with planning your next event for the crew, hooray! Because we’ve popped together some ideas that will please large groups, small gatherings, lively parties, chill get-togethers – you name it!


Barefoot Bowls

Who doesn’t love a bit of classic Aussie barefoot bowls? We’ve got some top-notch bowling clubs where you can park your gang for the arvo.

Club Windang does a 2-hour package with a drink ticket included; they’ve also got a pretty fab cocktail menu to boot. Wombarra Bowlo’s barefoot bowls are actually FREE Monday to Thursday with a small fee for use the rest of the week.

If you book at Wiseman Park Bowling Club you can reserve space in the huts or on the deck and for groups larger than 5 you can add on a catering package to the mix. Albion Park Bowling Club also offers package deals with food.

Sporty Spices

Let the posse throw off some steam with axe throwing at Battle Axe in Wollongong, the first axe-throwing venue in the Illawarra- you can even add catering and prize packages for the whole axe-perience.

Let the feet do the work at FootGolf Jamberoo– a quirky fun combo of soccer and golf! Or how about unleashing your inner Robin Hood with some archery tag? Nothing says corporate bonding like shooting your boss, so round up your merry men and get bookin’!

For a little vroom vroom then pop over to Wollongong Karting. Feel the need for speed as your group laps around the track in Kembla Grange.


Bring the fun indoors and test your skill and teamwork abilities at Breakout Bar and Escape Rooms. The escape rooms are tricky-tricky but oh so fun and there’s a cool cocktail bar to treat your crew to a pre/post celebratory/commiseratory drinkie-poo! Add on some karaoke and sing to your success!

To keep the ball rolling [literally] check out Strike Bowling in Wollongong or Zone Bowling in Albion Park Rail. Right next door to Strike you’ll find B Lucky and Sons for an arcade extravaganza! Finally, find out who in the crew is the real Mario Kart superstar.

Tee off at Holey Moley and get your group selfie in front of the Insta-famous Simpsons couch- that’ll be one for the company Christmas card! You can also cap the day off with more Karaoke or even some super-spacey laser tag! Phew, you’ll all defo deserve that round of cocktails at the bar attached!

To reaaaaallyy get your party workin’ out, sign ‘em up for some indoor rock climbing with Hangdog Climbing Gym, with 140 different climbs on 40 ropes, there’s something from the newbies to the experienced mountaineers.

And for an idea that will surely be a smash hit, try the Smash Lab Break Room Experience. Don your safety equipment and let loose for 2 hours, followed by bevvies and chillaxing with your crew.

Nature Lovers

Got a group that likes to get a bit gnarly? Have them riding the waves with surf lessons from Illawarra Surf Academy, perfect for those summer celebrations when the weather and water are just right.

We always recommend the Illawarra Fly as a fun group adventure. Where the team can do the Treetop Walk, walking about 20 – 30 metres off the ground in amongst the tree canopy with some fantastic views out to the coast.

Why not get your group together to learn more about those views we love so much? Gumaraa offers genuine indigenous experiences rooted in the traditions of the Dharawal and
Yuin Nations. Their cultural tours will give your crew an insightful journey into the history of our area and its significance to our First Nations people.


We’ve got a handy-dandy selection of fab wineries and breweries from the top to the tail of town. Many boast delish menus and chill-worthy spaces, perf for a leisurely long lunch.

Check out our guide to wineries in the Illawarra for all the info about the amazing local vineyards and wineries nestled in our backyard.

For those who prefer the amber nectar, the Illawarra has a blossoming and brilliant craft beer scene. Here’s a list of all the best breweries around town, from large and in-charge venues to smaller cosy spots, we love ‘em all!

And to keep everyone in the spirit for some spirits there’s Wolf and Woman Distillery which serves up taaaaasty drinks with a smile at their bar in Bellambi and South Coast Distillery in Spring Hill has some super fun sounding experiences to book including cocktail making, gin making and whisky tasting, learning has never been so sippable!


For the arty farty friends [and even those who may not be the next Picasso] spend some time with a paintbrush and a class of vino at Pinot & Picasso or The Sip Studio in Wollongong. Let the creative juices [and vino juices] flow.

Or why not sign the group up for a hand-building clay class? Luxury Clay Experiences in Gerringong has loads of interesting classes to check out. We honestly would love to try our hands at them all! Clay Wollongong also holds private lessons for groups larger than 8 all the way up to 40.

If you think your group would love to take the creativity into the kitchen, foodie faves Hideaway Lane welcomes team builds and corporate groups and can personalise a fun cooking or creating experience just for your group.


The Illawarra is, as always, killin’ it with restaurant and dining options for your pack. Seriously we think the food scene in the Illawarra is incredible and we’ve popped together some ideas for ya!

But also, be sure to pursue our Restaurant Directory for all the wonderful eating options across town.


Casual and Relaxed

If the squad is all about that laid-back vibe, we’ve got loads of awesome spots for a casual lunch or dinner hang. Here are some of our picks:

Towradgi Beach Hotel has heaps of space to stretch out both indoors and outdoors and Mr Crown and The Illawarra Hotel both have a central Wollongong location for kick-ons afterwards.

Speaking of location Pepes on The Beach is all about those STUNNING ocean views as does Ocean Beach Hotel further down the coast. Staying down that way y’all know we just love ourselves some Georgia Rose, cafe by day and cocktail bar by night- what can’t they do?

Another choice spot for the cocktails check out Little Betty’s in Kiama or if you’re up north we recommend The Fitz Cafe & Bar in Bulli, we just love their rooftop bar on a sunny day.

The Plough & Ale in Calderwood has a chill and family-friendly vibe if it’s a kids’ invited type of sitch and The Southern Hotel in Berry is always a good shout.

Restaurant Vibes

Looking to add a bit of extra je ne sais quoi to your celebration? Check out these local restaurants that are bringing the style and flavour with their own unique twist:

We’re totes vibing for Boveda’s fun and elegant Mexican cuisine, drooling at the sound of their ‘feed me’ menu for groups over 10. Basta Trattoria at Hotel Totto have also got the share menus rocking and we’re salivating just thinking ‘bout that burrata with mint, zucchini, green peas and basil oil.
Chow down at quintessential Illawarra waterside dining spot The Lagoon Seafood restaurant or head inland to Lulu’s at The Lodge in Jamberoo. How gawjus does both their indoor restaurant and outdoor champagne bar look? Dreamy!

Steamers Bar & Grill is well known for their friendly vibe and exciting dishes and whilst we’re on the topic of exciting Miss Arda in Kiama has a menu full of enticing Middle Eastern bites. We also adore the menu at The Old South in Thirroul and the staff are super friendly to boot!


If you’re planning a little DIY on the celebration front, there are awesome catering options available to bring the party to your space. We’re fortunate to have a bunch of creative local caterers right here. Check them out in our Catering Directory.

Villa D’Oro are well-loved for their flavourful pastas and hot dishes and is a crowd-pleaser and Smith St. Foods has a range of different catering styles depending on the type of shin you’re digging.

You can’t go past a classic Illawarra spread of Tony’s Chicken Shop or Chicko’s and we’ll admit we’re also pretty partial to those generously sized Chicko’s cakes if you’re looking to add some sweet to the mix.

And whilst we’re on the topic of sweet, [one of our fave topics really] we’re just suckers for all the goodies at Pasticceria Massimo Papa and are pretty sure your group will be too!
For the pickers of the group go on and grab a decadent grazing platter from one of our local providers like Pickled Poet in Thirroul, Deli & Dine on Market or Graze LHCD. Meats, cheeses and dips, oh my!


Celebrations often come with a good few rounds of drinks [probs more than normal] and that can be great! But what’s not great is trying to scrounge up taxis or rideshares in the wee hours of the morning.

Consider treating the party to a chauffeured car hire service so you can scoot from destination to destination in aircon-ed luxury minus the stress about who was gonna have to be the deso driver.

Happy everything party people!

Hannah Castelli Author Bio

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