2023 Bronze Award Winner Of NSW Top Tourism Town Awards [population over 5000 residents]
Stretching from Lilyvale in the north down to Windang Beach and the lakeside suburbs dotted along Lake Illawarra in the south, with the ‘inland’ towns south, west and north of Wollongong hemmed in by the dramatic Illawarra escarpment, there is so much to see, do and experience.
Here’s a run down of the towns of Wollongong and why you need to go exploring in your own backyard.
North Wollongong Beach is close to the city. NS
We’ll start with the biggest region of the Illawarra. The buzzy and diverse city of Wollongong is the central beacon of action in this area. A funky live music and pub scene make for a fun night out in town. Hemmed in by the inner west suburbs of Gwynneville, West Wollongong, Coniston and Mangerton with it’s beautiful streetscapes and homes, Wollongong City is where a multicultural mix of places to eat and drink sit side by side, and unique retail stores are mixed in with big name brands and shopping centres.
Locals live and breath sport, supporting teams like the Illawarra Hawks in basketball or St George Illawarra in the NRL, with a super strong grassroots presence in all sorts of sports – from netball to soccer to cricket, rugby league, AFL, cycling and more.
The best bit about Wollongong? Being super close to the ocean – it gives this city a super-relaxed vibe!
Wollongong is the third largest city in NSW.
CHILL BY THE COAST
And of course, we are loving all the beach towns dotted along the Wollongong coast, from Windang in the south up to Stanwell Park Beach tucked in under the escarpment off the Grand Pacific Drive, and all the coastal towns in between. Get your retail fix on the main street of Thirroul – a fab shopping spot! Kick back with a beer and some fresh seafood on a Friday arvo at the Headlands Hotel in Austinmer, or head down to North Wollongong Beach to explore the rock pools with the kids. So many awesome beach towns and beaches to explore here.
Austinmer is a small and beautiful northern suburb of Wollongong.
There’s always loads happening ‘inland’. The Wollongong Botanic Garden in Keiraville is the perfect place to wander around or grab a picnic with friends or family and of course, Keiraville is home to the University of Wollongong and the awesome Illawarra Academy of Sport. And while largely an industrial area, Kembla Grange is home to the Illawarra Turf Club and regular race days.
Head to the historic Balgownie Hotel for a Sunday lunch or pop into Bulli’s Resin Brewing for some local craft frothies. For a different sort of religious experience, the Fo Guang Shan Nan Tien Temple in Berkeley will help you re-capture your inner zen – such a peaceful space in such a busy place!
Mount St Thomas
Unanderra is home to the Kembla Grange Racecourses and BHP Sports Stadium.
The towns dotted around Lake Illawarra offer up some cracking views as well as a huge amount of recreational fun – you’ll find towns like Windang, offering up plenty of opportunities to get out boating, fishing, swimming and cycling. Berkeley Sports Club is a top spot to refuel overlooking the foreshores of Lake Illawarra, and you can get your retail fix at the recently reno-ed Warrawong Plaza.
Windang is at the entrance to Lake Illawarra, 15 kilometres southern of Wollongong City Centre.
The western edges of the Illawarra stretch out a little more with some beautiful rural space. Darkes Forest and Madden Plains in the north are wedged in between the coast and the bush. The south west of the region is where the suburbs give way to open space with the rural areas of Mount Kembla, Dombarton, Wongawilli, Cleveland, Huntley, Marshall Mount and Avondale hanging onto their farming roots. And the Illawarra’s strong mining history stands firm with villages like Kembla Heights, with its Federation period and Victorian style cottages named as a heritage conservation area.
Mount Kembla is a beautiful, rural residential area in the Wollongong region.
Such a diverse group of towns, suburbs and villages, all with their distinct personality and history. We love that there is so much to see, do and experience in the Wollongong area. Get amongst it, people and love where you live!