Wollongong

Wollongong

[wool-uhn-gawng, -gong]
Wollongong, city (1991 pop. 211,417), New South Wales, SE Australia. It is an important iron and steel center. There are other industries, including copper refining and textile and chemical manufacturing. Port Kembla, which was absorbed by Wollongong in 1947, is a major port. The Univ. of Wollongong is there.

Wollongong (pronounced woollong-gong, ) is the third largest city in the state of New South Wales, Australia, after Sydney and Newcastle. It is located in the Illawarra region of the east coast of Australia, south of Sydney which can be reached through a scenic coastal road and rail route which takes between 90 and 120 minutes or via main roads, taking between 70 and 90 minutes. The Wollongong metropolitan area has a population of 263,535 and is administered by the Wollongong, Shellharbour and Kiama councils, while the urban area extending from Clifton to Shell Cove has a population of 234,482.

The name Wollongong is believed to mean "sound of the sea" in the local Aboriginal language, although other explanations have been offered, such as "great feast of fish", "hard ground near water", "song of the sea", "sound of the waves", "many snakes" and "five islands".

Known affectionately as "the Gong", Wollongong is a city with a long history of mining and industry, having coal mines, steelworks and an industrial port. The city is also a regional centre for the South Coast fishing industry. The University of Wollongong attracts a number of international students each year. It has two Regional Cathedrals, and numerous churches of many denominations including the well-known landmark, the Nan Tien Temple, the largest Buddhist temple in the Southern hemisphere.

Geography

The City of Wollongong has a distinct geography. It lies on a narrow coastal plain flanked by the Pacific Ocean to the east and a steep sandstone precipice known as the Illawarra Escarpment to the west, most notably the almost separate mountain, Mount Keira. The coastal plain is widest in the south and narrowest in the north. Despite being on a plain there are many hills within it, most notably and closest to Wollongong these include the hill mass west of the railway of Mount Mangerton and Mount Saint Thomas which gives a distinct character to the town, Church Hill and Smith's Hill in the CBD and just north in the high-rise apartment district west of the harbour, Flagstaff Hill at Flagstaff Point, Cobblers Hill to the southwest of Figtree, Flagstaff Hill and Cringila Hill to the south, part of a ridge of hills known as Woonwongarang extending from Mount Kembla, and Hospital Hill to the west, north of a small valley separating it from Mount Mangerton. These hills do not generally exceed a hundred metres in height. Mount Keira road, the first and still used pass over the escarpment and past the mountain of that name, follows a low ridge from Hospital Hill, on top of which the Wollongong Hospital is situated. The plain is much lower than the escarpment, but contains many low hills and small individual valleys, which gives the city a distinct and interesting mix of altitude. Mangerton and Mount St Thomas both have small areas of bushland reserve, but littering and illegal bikeriding have become a problem. However, efforts are being made to the contrary such as bushcare volunteering. To the northwest of the city foothills of Mount Keira travel down towards the coast creating a rippled look, as at the Wollongong Botanic Gardens. Mount Saint Thomas is home to a transmission area.

North of Wollongong is Stuart Park/Fairy Lagoon, part of the Fairy/Para Creek system. North of this is Puckeys Estate Reserve, site of a salt works, and a bushwalking reserve. This reserve is known for its birdlife and coastal wetlands.

To the south of the city is J.J.Kelly Park and south of this the Greenhouse Park, once a waste pile it has been planted into a garden area and has a bike track and lookout over the city and Port Kembla steelworks. It also has fine views over the mountains. This hill has no official name but is known by some locals as 'the overseer'. Below this hill to the west is a small area of wetlands, the remnants of the once larger Tom Thumb Lagoon which once stretched to Swan Street but is now restricted to this small area of nature reserve.

Most of the city's northern suburbs are on more level ground, with some mild hills such as at Sandon Point and Woonona and Bulli Ridges. Ground level in the plain generally lies under twenty metres until reaching the foothills.

To the north of Wollongong the plain becomes so narrow that the coastal road Lawrence Hargrave Drive once precariously hugged the cliffline until rock falls forced its closure. It was replaced in 2005 by the Sea Cliff Bridge. The bridge carries both vehicular and pedestrian traffic just off the coast, crossing the submerged rock shelf. The Illawarra Railway must go through several tunnels to reach the Sydney metropolitan area. The Southern Freeway and Old Princes Highway provide alternative inland routes, descending the escarpment further south at Bulli Pass or at Mount Ousley, entering the coastal plain at Gwynneville, just north of Wollongong's city centre. Pass building was at first done by convicts and some old passes remain as tracks or management trails, such as O'Brien's Road at Mount Nebo and Rixon's Pass west of Woonona.

The Escarpment ranges between 150 and 750 metres (490 - 2,460 ft) above sea level, with locally famous mountains such as Mount Keira, 464 metres, Mount Kembla, 534 metres, Broker's Nose (Corrimal), 440 metres and Mount Murray to the south, 768 metres. The Escarpment contains strata of coal measures, and the adit entrances to many coal mines have been established along the slopes of the Escarpment right throughout Wollongong. The plain itself is traversed by several short but flood-prone and fast-flowing streams and creeks such as Para Creek, Allans Creek and Mullet Creek. These plains consist of highly fertile alluvium, which made Wollongong so attractive to agriculturists in the nineteenth century. The coastline itself consists of many beaches characterised by fine pale gold-coloured sands; however, these beaches are sometimes interrupted by prominent and rocky headlands jutting into the sea.

Just southeast of Wollongong City, near Red Point at Port Kembla, lie five islands, which are known collectively as "The Five Islands". The two northern islands are called the "Tom Thumb Islands" after the vessel used by late 1700s explorers George Bass and Matthew Flinders. The island closest to the point in the southern three is called Rocky Islet and is little more than a rocky projection from the water, the next island is called Gang-man-gang Island or Big/Pig Island, and is made of two almost separated parts, an eastern and western, thus creating the common myth that it comprises two of the five islands. The third is Martins Island, named after Bass and Flinders' assistant. The islands are a wildlife refuge.

A large coastal saltwater lagoon called Lake Illawarra is in the southern part of the city, separated from the Pacific Ocean by a long sandy spit. Just to the north of the lake is Port Kembla, a natural harbour that has been considerably expanded by human-made excavation and reclamation works.

Inner City

The geography is characterised by Flagstaff Point to the east, and Wollongong Beach to the south. To the north is Wollongong Harbour, west of Flagstaff Point and going north, and north of this is North Wollongong or simply North Beach and the lagoon at Puckeys Estate Reserve. Wollongong Beach is a northern extension of Coniston Beach and goes relatively straight north to Flagstaff Point.

This point is a headland with eroded low level cliffs and rocky areas about it, including two 'formations', Pulpit Rock to the north and a similar blockier rock formation to the south. These rocks also include the old Nun's Baths and a seawall of the old fort. This hill is significant historically and contains within it old coke ovens, and was the site of a flagstaff and cottage, as well as military operations during the war. It is the site of several restored canons and two lighthouses, a feature peculiar to the city in the state. The older one, at the harbour entrance, dates to the 1880s and is made of boiler plate, the newer one, constructed in 1937, stands atop the hill and is still in use today, though using an automated system rather than a manned operation system. The point has a lookout and picnic area, a grassy area extends mostly over it and a cliff walk is available along the fence built to stop suicides and other dangers. A trigonometry station, though broken, stands at the eastern tip of the point. The point is shaped like a B and has an inwards facing area to the right of the trigonometry station.

To the west of Flagstaff Point is Belmore Basin and Brighton Beach. Belmore Basin is the man made section of Wollongong Harbour and was built using convict labour and is a heritage site with plaques along a history walk. There are two eastern breakwaters, a small stubby one of cement topped stone for the old lighthouse, and a large artificial boulder one with a light at the end for aiding ships in fog. At the portside is the fish market and a number of restaurants. Along the harbour dock are several charter vessels and private fishing boats. In the main harbour are private yachts and recreational vessels. This is to the west. Brighton Beach has recently been heavily eroded by the sea and is very thin. It stretches from the Lions Park playgrounds to the east to the western breakwater to the west. This is owned by the Department of Lands and used by photographers. From here the coastal cliff runs to North Beach, passing the baths and indoor seapools. Along here the Wollongong to Thirroul Bike Track or Heartcare Walk runs, this section is the Peace Mile section and runs to North Beach. Atop the cliffs, the edge of Smith's Hill mass, is another path and Cliff Drive. Settlement goes up to this road. The cliffs and grass/bushland about them are managed by bushcare groups and include native and invasive weed species. Lantana and Bitou Bush are prevalent, as well as Moreton Bay Figs and Acacias. North of this is North Beach at the end of the cliff. This popular surfing spot is used for competitions and private recreation, though has been damaged by erosion in the June 2007 windgusts.

North Beach stretches to Fairy Meadow Beach at Stuart Park Lagoon. West of this is a four to five metre rise behind which is Stuart Park, a local recreational grounds. The lagoon is salt water and harbours many bird and fish species but is prone to littering.

Climate

Wollongong has a mild coastal climate with average maximum temperatures varying from 17 °C in winter to 26 °C in summer tempered by sea breezes. The highest recorded temperature is 44.1 °C in January, and the lowest 0.8 °C in July.

Hot summer evenings are sometimes relieved by a front of rapidly moving cool air known as a southerly buster.

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. Short high intensity rainfall events may happen at any time of the year and can lead to local flooding. A significant flood event occurred on 17 August 1998 when Wollongong recorded 316 mm of rainfall in the 24 hour period. Wollongong also experiences thunderstorms during the warmer months bringing lightning, heavy rain and occasionally hail.

Yearly rainfall is influenced by the El Niño-Southern Oscillation.

July and August are known as the windy months, with westerly gales that can gust at over 100 km/h.

History

The area was originally inhabited by the Dharwal (or Turuwal) Indigenous Australians. The first Europeans to visit the area were the navigators George Bass and Matthew Flinders who landed in Lake Illawarra in 1796. The first settlers in the region were cedar cutters in the early nineteenth century, followed by graziers in 1812. Charles Throsby established a stockman's hut in the area in 1815. The first land grants were made in 1816. In 1830 a military barracks was constructed near the harbour. Further settlers arrived and in 1834 a town was planned. On the 26th of November, 1834, the town was first gazetted and George Brown erected the first courthouse. The now main road down the Escarpment through Bulli Pass was built by convict labour in 1835-6, though other passes were built during the 1800s as well such as O'Brien's Road and Rixon's Pass. By 1856 Wollongong had a population of 864.

In 1858 the court house was built. In 1861 a horsedrawn tramway from Mount Keira to the harbour was completed. In 1862 a telegraph line was opened between Wollongong and Bellambi. In 1865 the first gas supply in Wollongong was provided from a gas plant in Corrimal Street. In 1868 the extensions to the harbour were opened by Lady Belmore and named Belmore Basin. Patrick Lahiff established a coke works at Wollongong Harbour in the 1870s. He erected two beehive coke ovens between the northeastern end of the basin and Pulpit Rock. The ovens were demolished in 1892. The remains of the coke ovens were uncovered and recovered and are now preserved beneath the hill, a plaque explaining their history.

In 1871 the old lighthouse was completed. In 1880 steam locomotives were introduced to haul coal loads from Mount Keira mine to the harbour. In 1883 gas street lighting was introduced. In 1885 a new court house was erected in Market Street. In 1886 the first town hall was erected. The Illawarra Railway to Wollongong was completed in 1887, and now continues as far south as the town of Bomaderry on the Shoalhaven River. The navigator George Bass first documented the Illawarra coal deposits in 1797. There have been many coalmines in the district. Australia's worst coal mining disaster occurred in 1902, at the Mount Kembla mine when an explosion killed 94 men and boys, the youngest aged 14, the oldest 69. Two other men died attempting to rescue survivors. In 1908 the Wollongong District Hospital was established on Garden Hill. In 1916 the Wollongong High School was opened.

Heavy industry was attracted to the region by the ready availability of coal. In 1928 Hoskins, later Australian Iron & Steel, started a steelworks at Port Kembla, a few kilometres south of Wollongong. The former Broken Hill Proprietary Company (now BHP Billiton after merging with Billiton plc) acquired AI&S in 1935, but has since spun-out their steel division as a separate company, now known as BlueScope Steel. The steelworks has grown to become a world-class flat rolled steel producer, operating as a fully integrated steel plant with a production of around 5 million tonnes per year. Other industries to have set up in the massive Port Kembla industrial complex—the largest single concentration of heavy industry in Australia—include a fertiliser plant, an electrolytic copper smelter (featuring the tallest chimney in Australia), a locomotive workshop, a coal export shipping terminal, a grain export shipping terminal and an industrial gases manufacturing plant.

In 1937 the new Wollongong Lighthouse was finished on Flagstaff Point. In 1942 Wollongong was proclaimed a City. In 1947 City of Greater Wollongong was formed. In 1954 the population of Wollongong was 90,852. In 1956 new Wollongong City Council Chambers were opened. In 1961 the Wollongong University College was established. In 1963 the Wollongong Teachers College was established. In 1965 the Westfield shopping centre at Figtree opened.

In 1985 the railway line was electrified to Wollongong, and in 1993 to Dapto. In 1986 the Wollongong Mall was completed. For a short while trams (trackless trains) were used in the mall, though this ceased due to dangers involved. The mall was re-opened to traffic after the initial test but re-zoned a pedestrian area after and has remained one since.

In 1987 the council chambers and library building were completed, replacing the old council building at the present art gallery site. The Crown Gateway Shopping Centre was completed. Wollongong Mall was opened. In 1988 the current council administration building was completed, as well as the performing arts centre across Burelli Street. A sculpture recognising Lawrence Hargrave was placed via a helicopter on the eastern foothills of Mount Keira. In 1998 the 6000 seat Wollongong Entertainment Centre was opened.

In 1999 the Gateway and Crown Central mall buildings were unified as Wollongong Central and a pedestrian walkway/caf'e was built connecting the buildings in an above ground bridge. In 2000, as part of the Sydney Olympics, the olympic torch was carried through Wollongong as part of its journey. In 2001 the population of Wollongong reached 181,612 people. In 2004 the Wollongong City Gallery celebrated its 25th anniversary. In 2005 Qantas established a daily air service from Wollongong to Melbourne that lasted till 2008.

In 2006/2007 the library was renovated, including new facilities, as part of the tenth anniversary of the library's current site. Also at this time the beachfront was renovated with a new lookout and walkway upgrade. In June 2007 erosion was caused via storms to the beaches, the worst in 30 years.

Despite the decline of traditional manufacturing and blue-collar industries due to the abandonment of protectionist economic policies in the 1980s, many of these industrial installations still exist. This has not stopped Wollongong having the unenviable distinction of one of Australia's highest unemployment rates and rates of drug dependency . The city's economy is, however, on the rebound, thanks to diversification of economic activity including higher education, the fine arts, tourism, residential construction and eco-friendly electricity generation; however, the city's economy still relies primarily on heavy industry, and will continue to in the near future.

Demographics

In 2001 the city of Wollongong had a population of 181,612. The surrounding urban area including the City of Wollongong, City of Shellharbour and Municipality of Kiama comprise a metropolitan area population of 274,072.

Wollongong has a high proportion of residents with southern European ancestries, particularly from Republic of Macedonia, Italy, Greece, Turkey and other former Yugoslav countries, many of whom migrated to Australia due to acute labour shortages and accelerating industrialisation in the boom period after World War II. In recent years migrants have come from Vietnam, Lebanon, Iran, Portugal, Spain, Africa, South America and Bosnia.

More recently, Wollongong has become an attractive destination for new residents moving from Sydney seeking lower real estate prices, less traffic congestion and a less-developed natural environment. Wollongong's cheaper real estate, combined with efficient transport links to Sydney via CityRail's South Coast Line and the F6 Southern Freeway, have seen many young families move to new subdivisions in Wollongong while retaining jobs in Sydney.

Census 2001 statistics

Population: On Census Night, 7 August 2001, there were 181612 people (90213 males and 91399 females) counted in the City of Wollongong. This represents an increase of 2.6% since the 1996 Census, and an increase of 4.5% since the 1991 Census. Of those people counted on Census Night, 96.5% were counted at home. The City of Wollongong has an area of 684 square kilometres, giving a population density of 265.5 people per square kilometre.

Median Age: The median age of people in the 2001 Census was 36 years.

Country Of Birth: The number of people born overseas in the 2001 Census was 41444 (23.0%). Of those born overseas, the three main countries of birth at the 2001 Census were:

United Kingdom: 11876 (6.6%)
Republic of Macedonia: 3793 (2.1%) and
Italy: 3553 (2.0%).

Ancestry: In the 2001 Census, the three most common ancestries identified with were:

Australian: 63659 people (35.1%)
English: 58820 people (32.4%) and
Irish: 16855 people (9.3%)

Indigenous Origin: There were 2661 people (1.5%) who identified as being of Indigenous origin in the 2001 Census.

Language: English was stated as the only language spoken at home by 141179 people (77.7%) in the 2001 Census. The three most common languages spoken at home other than English in the 2001 Census were:

Macedonian: 5859 (3.2%)
Italian: 5181 (2.9%) and
Greek: 2084 (1.1%).

Marital Status: In the 2001 Census, of the 145019 people aged 15 years of over, there were 75116 married people (51.8%), 4466 separated people (3.1%), 10387 divorced people (7.2%), 9894 widowed people (6.8%) and 45156 people who had never been married (31.1%).

Families: In the 2001 Census, of the 173739 people in occupied private dwellings, there were 22902 couple families with children (which comprised 47.1% of all families in occupied private dwellings), 17262 couple families without children (35.5%), 7684 one parent families (15.8%) and 743 other families (1.5%).

In total, there were 146052 people (84.1%) counted in 48591 families. Further to this, there were 1187 unrelated individuals (0.7%) living in family homes, 5500 people (3.2%) in group households and 16278 people (9.4%) in lone person households. There were 4722 visitors (2.7%) staying in private dwellings.

Dwellings: In the 2001 Census, there were 49651 separate houses (72.2%), 5549 semi detached, row or terrace houses and townhouses (8.1%), 11921 flats, units or apartments (17.3%) and 1213 other dwellings (1.8%). Of all occupied private dwellings in the 2001 Census, 44757 were either fully owned or being purchased, which represents 65.1% of all occupied private dwellings, while 19313 (28.1%) were being rented.

Education: In the 2001 Census, 4875 (3.4%) people held a postgraduate degree, graduate diploma or graduate certificate; 11632 (8.1%) people held a bachelor degree; 35629 (24.8%) people with an advanced diploma, diploma or certificate; and 91714 (63.8%) people did not have a qualification.

Industry of Employment: In the 2001 Census, 10880 (14.9%) people were employed in the Manufacturing industry; 5129 (7.0%) people employed in the Construction industry; 10649 (14.6%) people employed in the Retail Trade industry; 7332 (10.0%) people were employed in the Property and Business Services industry; 6861 (9.4%) people employed in the Education industry; and 7647 (10.5%) people employed in the Health and Community Services industry.

Unemployment: In the 2001 Census, 7337 people were unemployed, representing 9.1% of the labour force. The labour force participation rate was 67.5%.

Income: The median weekly individual income for people aged 15 years and over in the 2001 Census was $300-$399.

Journey To Work: On Census day, 7 August 2001, 3017 (4.1%) people travelled to work by train only, 1016 (1.4%) people took the bus only and 233 (0.3%) people took both the train and bus. There were 48905 (66.9%) people who travelled to work by car, either as the driver or as a passenger and 3050 (4.2%) people either rode a bike or walked to work.

Computer Usage: In the week preceding the 2001 Census, 72525 people (40.2%) had used a personal computer at home. The total number of persons who had used the Internet in the week preceding the 2001 Census was 61839. There were 7921 people (4.4%) who had used the Internet at work only, 33068 people (18.3%) who had used the internet at home only and 6148 people (3.4%) who had used the internet elsewhere only. There were 14702 people (8.2%) who provided a multiple response to the question of Internet use.

Census data sourced from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Education

Wollongong has one university, the University of Wollongong, which was formerly part of the University of New South Wales, and the Illawarra Institute of Technology, part of the State's system of TAFE colleges. The university was awarded the "Australian University of the Year" in two consecutive years (1999-2000, 2000-2001) by the Good Universities Guide.

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, and Wollongong High School of the Performing Arts.

Notable Schools

  • University of Wollongong (UoW), A University with more than 22000 students, sporting numerous University of the Year awards. The current Chancellor is Mr Michael Codd AC and the Vice-Chancellor is Gerard Sutton.
  • Cedars Christian College (CCC), A Christian school located in Unanderra , a suburb within Wollongong. Offers both Primary and Secondary education.
  • Corrimal High School , A school of which some notable high profile personalities have attended.
  • Edmund Rice College (ERC), A Catholic boys school, which plays brother school to St. Mary's Star of the Sea. The current headmaster is D. Lear.
  • Elonera Montessori School (EMS) , an independent Montessori school, located in Mount Ousley, offering education from K-10. The current principal (referred to as Head of School) is Mrs. Elizabeth Goor.
  • Figtree High School (FHS), A government high school in Figtree, with an enrolment of over 1200, with that number growing by around 100 each year making it one of the most sought after schools in the area. The current principal is Steve Bouvet, with the Deputy Principals being John Kennedy and Paul Delaney.
  • Holy Spirit College (HSC) , A Catholic school formed from Holy Cross and St Paul's, it is situated in Bellambi. The current principal is Mr. Mark Baker
  • Illawarra Christian School (ICS) , a Christian school with two campuses at Cordeaux Heights and Albion Park, offering K-12 education.
  • The Illawarra Grammar School (TIGS), A private Anglican school founded in 1959. The current headmaster is Stephen Kinsella.
  • Illawarra Senior College (ISC), A public school located in Port Kembla specialising in secondary education for post-compulsory students of all ages.
  • Keira High School (KHS), was reestablished as a technology high school in 1990 but the title "technology" has been removed since. The current principal is Maurie Mulheron.
  • Smith's Hill High School (SHHS) , The only selective high school in Wollongong. The current principal is Rae Mitchell.
  • St Mary Star of the Sea College (SMC), Catholic girls' high school founded by the Sisters of the Good Samaritan in 1873. Current principal is Fay Gurr.
  • Wollongong High School of The Performing Arts (WHSPA), A performing arts school whose current principal is Marian Grant.
  • Woonona High School (WHS), A government high school in Woonona.

Media

Wollongong and the Illawarra region is serviced by three commercial television networks - WIN Television, Prime and Southern Cross Ten. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) also broadcast television services to Wollongong. In some areas it is also possible to pick up Sydney broadcasts including the trial datacasting service, Digital Forty Four, and community station Television Sydney.

The region receives four ABC radio services - ABC Classic FM 95.7, ABC Illawarra 97.3, Triple J 98.9, and Radio National 1431 AM. There are two commercial radio stations i98 FM 98.1 and WAVE FM 96.5, 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 is home to one daily newspaper The Illawarra Mercury issued Monday to Saturday, in addition to several free community newspapers including the Wollongong Advertiser, Local Citizen and the Wollongong & Northern Leader which distributes to the northern suburbs and Wollongong.

Transport

Road

The main road connecting Wollongong is the Waterfall-Yallah Southern Freeway (formerly the F6). The freeway, part of National Route 1, enters the city near the University of Wollongong and exits at its southern fringe. A second freeway, the Northern Distributor, connects Wollongong suburbs north of the university.

Rail

Wollongong is served by the South Coast 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. Freight services connect Sydney markets with Port Kembla and the Manildra factory at Bomaderry. The Southern Highlands line is used primarily for freight, providing an important bypass for Sydney's congested rail network.

Bus

Bus services in Wollongong are provided by Premier Illawarra and other bus companies. Wollongong railway station serves as the network's hub. Services connect Wollongong suburbs to Shellharbour, Lake Illawarra and the Royal National Park.

Air

Wollongong is serviced by Illawarra Regional Airport, also known as the Wollongong Airport and the base for the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS).

Culture

Arts

Despite its industrial heritage, Wollongong maintains an active arts scene. In the area of music the city is home to the Wollongong Symphony Orchestra, BlueScope Steel Youth Orchestra, a jazz club and various groups and ensembles. The Wollongong Conservatorium of Music provides musical tuition for instruments and voice in classical, jazz and contemporary styles. It is one of the largest regional conservatorium in Australia and located in the historic Gleniffer Brae Manor House, part of the Wollongong Botanic Gardens.

Local theatre groups include the Arcadians, Roo Theatre, Merrigong and Wollongong Workshop Theatre.

The annual Wollongong Eisteddfod showcases local talent in music, theatre and dance.

The Wollongong City Gallery houses a significant collection of the art of the Illawarra, contemporary Australian, Aboriginal and asian art. In addition there are a number of private galleries, particularly in Wollongong's northern seaside suburbs.

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, Cooneys, The Glasshouse Tavern, One Five One (Formerly Bourbon St), Castros (Formerly Rusty's), The Illawarra Hotel, The Harp Hotel, The Oxford Hotel and The North Wollongong Hotel.

Recreation

Wollongong has 17 seasonally-patrolled local beaches: Stanwell Park, Coalcliff, Austinmer, Thirroul, Sandon Point, Bulli, Woonona, Bellambi, Corrimal, Towradgi, Fairy Meadow, North Wollongong, Wollongong City, Port Kembla and Windang. Surfing, rock fishing, swimming, skimboarding are common activities. The Wollongong to Thirroul Bike Track, a thirteen kilometre Heart Foundation walking/biking pathway which runs northwards adjacent to the Illawarra coastline starting at Wollongong Beach, is frequented by walkers, joggers, skaters and bicycle riders. Bushwalking on nearby Mount Keira and Mount Kembla, and motorbike riding at the Motocross Track on the escarpment west of Wollongong, are also popular activities.

Wollongong has many parks. In the city centre is MacCabe Park, featuring a playground, the local youth centre, a war memorial, community hall, a sculpture called "Nike" and a brick amphitheatre. Lang Park, adjacent to the city beach, has a number of shelters built in the 1950s. These were subject for demolition but were saved by a community vote. Stuart Park, to the coastal north of the city but south of Fairy Lagoon and Puckeys Estate Reserve, is well known as a landing spot for skydivers as well as a place for outdoor recreation and social gatherings. Stuart Park is also distinctive for its Norfolk Island Pines, planted during the North Wollongong tourism boom in the 1920s. J.J.Kelly Park to the south is used by circuses, as well as a protected area of creek leading to the Greenhouse Park north of the Port Kembla Steelworks, containing a revegetated area of once waste and a lookout, as well as the small remnants of Tom Thumb Lagoon, which once stretched north to Swan Street. Beaton Park in Gwynneville is home to Tennis Wollongong and the Leisure Centre with an athletics complex, indoor heated swimming pool, gymnasium and multipurpose sports hall.

Sport

Rugby league is the pre-eminent sport in Wollongong and the whole Illawarra area and has a rich history in the area. Its culture is interwoven with the tough character of the mining and industrial areas. During one period, an Illawarra football club made an offer for French great Puig Aubert and almost lured him. An Illawarra football club was finally admitted to the Sydney premiership in 1982.

The Illawarra Steelers represented the city between 1982-1998 before it merged to form the St George Illawarra Dragons. The St George Illawarra Dragons are by far the highest drawing sports team in the Illawarra area, averaging over 14,000 spectators per match at WIN Stadium.

The Illawarriors are a rugby union club based in the Illawarra, who contest the Shute Shield NSW club competition. The club play some of their home games out of WIN Stadium.

The Wollongong Hawks basketball team play in the National Basketball League and are one of only two NBL clubs (the other being Brisbane Bullets) to have competed in every season since the league's inception in 1979. Home games are played at the WIN Entertainment Centre, known as the "The Sandpit" in the NBL.

Wollongong F.C. are the region's football (soccer) club who compete in the New South Wales Premier League. Scott Chipperfield, a Wollongong native who became a professional football (soccer) player in Europe, has recently expressed an interest in being involved in a Wollongong football club in the A-League, as well as the Sydney club playing some promotional games in Wollongong. Great South Football are a consortium preparing the Illawarra's bid for entry into the A-League.

Attractions

In addition to numerous swimming and surfing beaches, major visitor attractions to the Wollongong region are:

Sister Cities

Wollongong has a number of sister city arrangements. These are:

See also

References

External links

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