WOLLONGONG – THE AUSTRALIAN TRAVELLER GUIDE
Wollongong – The Australian Traveller Guide Located less than two hours south of Sydney, the scenic drive to “The Gong” should whet even a cynic’s appetite for a city that once had a reputation as nothing more than smog and steelworks. Now a thriving centre for shopping, beach culture and spectacular views, Wollongong also plays host to one of the largest universities in Australia. Perfect for a weekend away, find out why this charming destination was Captain Cook’s first choice to land in 1770 and is a great starting point to discover the Illawara region.
Where to Stay
Students are spoiled for choice when it comes to backpackers’ accommodation, and all come with mixed reviews. If really strapped for cash, try the YHA which is just a five-minute walk to the plethora of retailers located at Wollongong Central.
For those with extra wallet-weight, why not pay Rydges Central City Wollongong a visit? This simple yet sleek hotel comes complete with in-room mini-bar, 24-hour reception and a prime location neighbouring popular local watering hole, The Grand Hotel.
But if accommodation away from the urban buzz is more your style, spend an unforgettable night at the southern hemisphere’s largest Buddhist temple, Nan Tien Temple Pilgrim Lodge. Amidst the temple’s gardens, guests can join in for chanting, meditation or have a cuppa at The Dew Drop Inn Tea House. With rooms starting around $90, inner peace comes at an affordable price.
What to Do
The city centre offers a hub of educational experiences, starting with a bit of town history at the Illawarra Museum, or for something more contemporary the Wollongong City Gallery features Aboriginal and Illawarra colonial artworks. To keep kids’ minds active, as well as adults, experience science shows and interactive exhibitions at FutureWorld or the Science Centre & Planetarium. Alternatively, if you’re kiddie-free for the weekend, try your hand at brewing beer at U-Brew It Wollongong. Best of all, you get to sample your own handiwork.
If you want to get out of the city, take advantage of Wollongong’s stunning beaches and take a relaxing dip at the family-friendly and easily accessed Wollongong City Beach or North Beach. To avoid the crowds and catch a wave, try Coledale beach where you can also camp overnight. For those seeking more of an adrenaline rush, jump headfirst into North Beach’s skydiving deals and get a spectacular birds-eye-view of the coastal strip – the only beach skydive available in NSW. Further south, just out of Wollongong, the Illawara Fly Treetop Walk provides a unique way to discover the rainforest and picturesque panoramas of the Illawara escarpment.
When to Travel
Any time of year makes for a good trip to Wollongong, although the winter months can be a bit chilly with average temperatures under 20 degrees and, more importantly, are not suitable for lazy days at the beach. But don’t be too disappointed if that’s the only time you can go, there are other sources of entertainment such as the Shoalhaven Coast Winter Wine Festival, which takes places just south of the city in June.
Roughly 85 kilometres south of Sydney, taxis (approx $178, 13 33 00), shuttle services (approx $50 one-way, 02 4261 7393) and trains (approx $21 return, www.cityrail.info) all service the station. Free shuttle buses also circulate the city but the best option may be hiring a car to explore the beautiful coastline.
Where is it? 60km south of Sydney, Sea Cliff Bridge on Lawrence Hargrave Drive How to see it for yourself? You can walk, drive or ride a bike over the 655m-long Sea Cliff Bridge, which is part of Australia’s Grand Pacific Drive (Lawrence Hargrave Drive makes up the stretch between Stanwell Park and Thirroul). This particular shot was taken at Clifton, looking to Stanwell Tops. Why I love it “The magnificent structure is an engineering masterpiece, which provides a scenic link to the south coast.” – Jillian Graham, photographer Image by Jillian Graham...
AT's Wheelie Traveller flies high at Illawarra Fly Treetop Adventure One of the things I really miss about reduced mobility is the freedom to wander at will through the glorious Australian landscape. I particularly miss bushwalks through deserted fire trails near my previous home in the Blue Mountains, so imagine my joy at discovering the Illawarra Fly Treetop Adventure which allowed me to 'walk' through a beautiful rainforest in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales. Even more thrilling was the fact that this was no ordinary bushwalk; the trail itself is 500 metres long and has an average height...
AT's guide to the best cheap accommodation for summer and Christmas holidays Thirroul Why do we rate it? The cluster of beaches around Thirroul are reason enough. That this arty, laid-back Wollongong suburb is riddled with holiday home vacancies is a bonus. Where is it? 70km south of Sydney. It’s where D.H. Lawrence wrote most of his novel Kangaroo, apparently. Where to stay Holiday homes in Thirroul can work out cheaper than serviced apartments in Wollongong, and are great for groups. At Bevans Real Estate Thirroul, there are 30 holiday rentals available. The largest sleeps 12 but the majority accommodate...
Sometimes it’s all too easy to become jaded with life in the fast lane - the girls, the cars, the bars and guitars . . . if this happens to you, there is a cure. Wollongong. Wollongong is TISM’s Groundhog Day. Every time we visit, it’s the same: we play atrociously, lose money and go home depressed. Perhaps we’ve been missing the real Wollongong, so this time we enlist some local help and - just to be certain - we check out the Tourism Wollongong website, so we know what to look out for . . . “Whatever your budget...
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