Wollongong is a city in the Illawarra region of New South Wales. Heading south, Wollongong starts where Sydney finishes. It is the third largest city in the state behind Sydney and Newcastle and is thinly wedged on a coastal plain between an escarpment and the Pacific Ocean. It is pronounced Wool-un-gong.
Geography defines Wollongong, as the city is never more than roughly six kilometers at its widest but stretches over forty kilometers 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 recently 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.
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 city centre 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.
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.
The quickest way from Sydney is to take M1/A1 south. You leave Sydney, and enter greater Wollongong just before the freeway starts. Its about 50 minutes drive to this point, and around another 20 minutes down the freeway 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 freeway the Bulli Pass road throws itself straight down the escarpment and along the coast. The exit is well signposted after the end of the freeway. 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. Exit from the freeway 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 north.
From Canberra or Melbourne, you can access Wollongong via the Illawarra Highway or via Picton Road. Picton Road offers a faster, straighter trip, while the Illawarra Highway offers scenery with windy roads and the occasional waterfall and picnic areas. To go the quick, Picton Road route, ignore the first exit sign to Wollongong from the Hume Highway at Moss Vale, and take the second, where the exit is also signposted to Picton.
There are hourly train services between Sydney and Wollongong on the South Coast. 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, and you can pay with a reloadable Opal Card, a single trip Opal ticket, or a contact-less credit card at the Opal gates.
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. The trip takes around 90 minutes.
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 Southern Freeway. 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, catch an airport train one or two stops to Wolli Creek, and then change for a train to Wollongong. All trains to Wollongong stop at Wolli Creek.
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.
- 1 Illawarra Regional Airport (Wollongong Aerodrome WOL IATA) (at 20 min south of the Wollongong CBD in Albion Park rail in Shellharbour is only marginally closer than Sydney airport). It is the site of the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society museum and workshop facilities associated with that society are located at the airport. Fly Corporate operates flights to Melbourne's Essendon Airport and Brisbane using Saab 340B Plus aircraft.
A couple of Royal Caribbean cruise ships a year visit Wollongong.
Wollongong bus services form part of the Sydney public transport network. You can either use the Opal card when boarding the bus, or alternatively purchase a ticket from the driver.
Dions Bus Service. Operates bus services in the northern suburbs of Wollongong, going as far as Austinmer.
Premier Illawarra. Operates buses from the suburb of Bellambi (north of Wollongong), to as far south as Kiama.
There is also the free Gong Shuttle Bus, operating between the University of Wollongong and the City Centre, via Wollongong Station, the Hospital, Burelli St and the UOW's Innovation Campus. On weekends they also stop at North Wollongong station. The free buses 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 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!
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.
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 available in Wollongong. Avis, Europcar and Hertz are located in Flinders St, just north of the city centre.
An extensive cycle track runs from Wollongong north for 10 km to Thirroul, hugging the scenic beaches, or the same distance south south to Windang and Lake Illawarra. This is generally uncrowded and a great way to get a feel for the city and surrounds. Within in the city itself, cycling is a bit more challenging thanks to the numerous inclines. Cycling is not allowed in Crown St Mall, although people can be seen on 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, ☎ . $40 per day.
or in downtown Wollongong:
- Wollongong Bike Hire, 337 Keira St, ☎ . $40 per day.
Wollongong is a pretty walkable city - you can walk from the train station to the Wollongong CBD, and all the way to Wollongong City Beach. Just avoid walking in the middle of the day, especially during summer.
Swimming and surfing
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 city centre.
- 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).
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. Sublime Point is probably the most famous, and best for a picnic or the view. 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.
- Science Space (Science Centre and Planetarium), 60 Squires Way, North Wollongong (Squires Way, Fairy Meadow), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
- 1 Nan Tien Temple, Berkeley Rd, Berkeley, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. 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 the Southern Hemisphere. "Nan Tien" in Chinese means "Paradise of the South". Received awards for its beautiful lighting, gardens and architecture. Free.
- 2 WIN Sports & Entertainment Centres (the WEC), Corner of Crown and Harbour Streets (southern end of the Central Business District), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
- Australia's Industry World - 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, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. 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.
Gardens and Parks
- 3 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.
- Minnamurra Rainforest (Budderoo National Park, near Jamberoo, head along Jamberoo Mountain Road), ☎ . 9am-5pm daily (closed Christmas Day). Visitors centre and boardwalks through subtropical rainforest. Go early in the morning for the best chance at seeing wildlife such as lyre birds and wombats. Park entry is $12 per vehicle, otherwise free.
Walk and pedal
- 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 Kiera Ring Track, 5 km loop. A very popular 5 km walk around Mount Keira. Eucalypt and rain forest 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.
Big trains and little trains
- 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. 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
- 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.
- Sky-Diving. Wollongong's stunning scenery look even more stunning when seen from above. If the mountain lookouts aren't exciting enough for you, the option to skydive is yours. A number of companies operate out of Illawarra Regional Airport, one of these being the Bushsports group.
- University of Wollongong, Main campus-Northfields Avenue, Gwynneville, (next to the Botanical Gardens), (shuttle bus service operates from North Wollongong Station). ☎ tollfree 1300 367 869. For prospective students or general enquiries (firstname.lastname@example.org). . 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.
- Wollongong Central (Crown Street Mall), 200 Crown St, ☎ . The centrepiece of Wollongong shopping. It has a partly-covered pedestrian mall on Crown St, 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 food.
- Warrawong Plaza (Westfield - Wollongong), 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.
- Lederer - Corrimal (Stockland - Corrimal), 270 Princes Highway, Corrimal, ☎ . 9AM - 5PM hours vary.
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 outer suburbs, to find great food. There is something for everyone.
- Coconut Thai. (also located on Keira St), Variety of excellent Thai dishes. Meals range from $10-20 per person. Recommended for vegetarians and vegans, as they offer a lot of excellent non-meat dishes, as well as a wide array of beef, chicken and seafood orientated meals.
- Ahmed's (between North Wollongong station and the Crown Street Mall). A kebab shop run by a sometimes-professor for the University of Wollongong, named, surprisingly, Ahmed. Always open late, recommended is the regular chicken, extra extra extra hot.
- Food World. Chinese and Vietnamese food, big meals and dirt cheap. Mains $8-$10. Great atmosphere. Don't be put off by some of the ugliest decor ever allowed to grace a restaurant, 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.
- 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, ☎ . 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.
- 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.
- FU's (next to Amigos). Chinese food provided in large servings. It is also a great place to go with a group because they do meal deals.
- Roppongi, Market St (Close to Extreme surf store and the Illawarra Hotel). 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.
- City Diggers Wollongong (RSL), 82 Church St, ☎ , fax: . Nice atmosphere, but on weekends reservations are highly suggested. Food gets served within 10-15 minutes. Mains: $13-17. Beer: $4-6.
- Marco's, Corrimal St (Cafe district). Offers a range of dishes concentrating on Italian cuisine. Portions at Marco’s will challenge even the most avid eaters.
- Hideaway Cafe (in the centre of Wollongong city between the amphitheatre and Greater Union cinema). Delicious food and down to earth staff. On Thursday and Saturday entertainment is provided by local artists. From $13-20.
- Jasmine Rice, Corrimal St. 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.
- Thai Carnation (Corner of Corrimal and Crown St). 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.
- The Cheeky Fig, Keira St (Directly across the road from Caveau). Lorenzo Pagnan was the owner of the first restaurant in Wollongong to receive a single hat from the Sydney Morning Herald's Good Food Guide. Modern and some traditional Mediterranean cuisine in very slick modern surrounds.
- Caveau, 122-124 Keira St. Opened mid 2005, the creation of former Banc (Sydney) sous chef Peter Sheppard. Caveau serves French meals, with prices set at either $55 for two courses or $77 for three. The second Wollongong restaurant to receive a hat from the Good Food Guide and as such a friendly rivalry has developed between Lorenzo's and Caveau - one that has seen the North Keira street area develop into an important restaurant district for the City.
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 recently 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.
- Glasshouse. A tavern and nightclub which has recently re-opened, having been redeveloped- but still smelling distinctly of it's trademark vomit and sawdust. It is reasonably popular, with an entry fee charged for the upstairs nightclub. Often somewhat violent, coupled with incompetent security staff can make for an unpleasant night out if you don't keep your wits about you.
- Castro's. Nightclub tucked into Victoria St. A 'three mode' nightclub. Wednesday is Uni Night, with varying crowd sizes and cheap drink specials, as well as free entry before midnight. 2AM lockout, 3AM close. Fridays are often used for "Sensations", an U18 party session, while Saturday is Gay Night with a popular drag queen show.
- Harp Hotel, 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.
- Abbey's Nightclub. Catering to the overflow from the Harp Hotel. A pleasant nightclub, filled with young people, typically. Trying to enter for free via the back balcony is often a quick way for the security staff to indulge in their penchant for brutal beatings, given the camera footage on the stairs is minimal and often turned off by remote control.
- Five Islands Brewery (Win Entertainment Centre) (for directions see below), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. Brew their own beer and the Sixth Island bar serves bar food and has a fantastic terrace with a BBQ. There is also an 80 seat restaurant. Sit and drink watching the surf roll in from the Pacific Ocean just 50 m away. Or don't. Quite nice to take the (older) kids on a Sunday afternoon, with the park in front and the beach close.
- CBD Sports Bar, Auburn St (near the City train station). Very relaxed atmosphere that translates into very high drink prices. Only 'non-leagues club' bar in the city that serves Resches Draught, a traditional Sydney beer that used to be far more common.
- Dicey Riley's. An Irish hotel that is conveniently located 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 City Centre). Mainly older laid back 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.
- The Ivory. A bar catering for the older crowd. Smart casual, 25 years or over for entry.
- Downtown Bar. A bar catering for business people. It is very expensive, upwards of 15 dollars for a schooner of beer in some cases.
- Sovereign Inn Wollongong, ☎ , fax: . A basic motel close the city centre. Good for an overnight stay, or if you are not spending too much time around the hotel. From $85.
- Best Western City Sands, 151-161 Corrimal St, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Part of Wollongong Golf Club and close to the CBD, WIN Stadium, WIN Entertainment Centre, and local beaches.
- ibis Hotel, Cnr Market & Church St, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: H6377@accor.com. In the city's main entertainment and business precinct.
- Novotel Northbeach Wollongong, 2-14 Cliff Road, North Wollongong, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. Beach views, a day spa and is just 5 minutes from the Wollongong CBD and retail precinct. From $175-300.
- Chifley Wollongong, 60-62 Harbour St, toll-free: 1300 650 464, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Ultra-modern hotel adjacent to WIN Sports and Entertainment Centre. A short walk to the beach, restaurants, shopping and entertainment. From $135-700.
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 one of their MVNOs like Boost Mobile.
There are a few coffee shops and McDonalds 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.
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 the Crown Street Mall and around takeaway food shops. Also beware of groups of young men in cars at 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 the Crown Street mall are often similar.
From Wollongong you can follow the coast southwards towards the Victorian border. 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 freeway.
The Illawarra Highway is a scenic route through the Southern Highlands to the Hume 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 Royal 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
If you are staying in Wollongong, Sydney is a fairly comfortable day trip.
|Routes through Wollongong|
|Central Coast ← Sydney ←||N S||→ Kiama → Batemans Bay|