Wollongong combines the best of the outdoors with a burgeoning cultural scene to deliver activities and attractions to suit everyone from the nature lover and adventurer to the refined diner and art lover, with plenty more thrown in for the kids.
Nan Tien Temple, which means paradise of the south in Chinese, is the largest Buddhist temple in the Southern Hemisphere. Since its opening in 1995, the temple continues to draw a steady stream of tourists, intent on walking through the serene gardens and admiring the sheer scale of the temple. Dine at the onsite café for authentic Asian cuisine and a steaming hot cup of tea before you hit the road.
Standing proudly on the northern side of the headland is the historic Wollongong Breakwater Lighthouse. Constructed from wrought iron in 1871, the local heritage site was restored in 2002 but has been inactive since 1974. Not to be confused with its slightly more modern neighbour, the electricity-powered Wollongong Head Lighthouse to its right, was built from reinforced concrete in 1936 and is still in operation today.
Take a self-guided or host-guided walk around the winding paths of the Wollongong Botanic Gardens. There are a large variety of gardens to explore, from the rainforest and the flowering trees and shrubs to the succulents and the Australian open forest and more. There is a playground to keep the kids entertained with maze and climbing net, as well as plenty of green spaces to relax in.
Views don’t get much better than the one you’ll find at Bald Hill Lookout in Stanwell Tops at the northern tip of Wollongong. Not only will you see expansive views of the Pacific Ocean and the iconic Sea Cliff Bridge, but you’ll also watch hang-gliders and paragliders launch themselves off the edge to glide over coastline. The lookout is an internationally acclaimed area for the sport, and is the very spot where Australian aeronautical pioneer Lawrence Hargrave first flew his box kite in 1894.
Wollongong and its surrounding suburbs are home to some of the coast’s best beaches. If it’s a surf you seek, Sandon Point and Windang Island are two of the best spots in Wollongong and the winter months deliver the most consistent swells.
For those more interested in swimming, relaxing on the sand, or picnicking in a reserve, then head to either Wollongong City Beach or North Wollongong Beach. Nearby Stanwell Park Beach, Coledale Beach and the rock pools at Austinmer Beach are also great alternatives. Swimmers can also get in some early morning laps at the Continental Pool right on Wollongong beach.
There are plenty of hiking trails to explore around Wollongong, but the Sublime Point walking track is one of the most iconic. The steep 45-minute climb to the top will reward you with far-reaching views over the city and the Pacific Ocean.
If you’re itching to throw a line in the water head to Wollongong City Beach and fish around the boulders or off the rock platform for tailor, salmon, bream and drummer. The breakwall in Wollongong Harbour is another great option.
Once they’ve had enough of the beach, kids can burn off all that extra energy at MagicZoom. The indoor family play centre is kitted out with soft play, climbing structures, slides and an arcade.
Flip Out is another high-energy activity guaranteed to get your child’s approval. Several of the highlights at the indoor trampoline park include the foam pit, wall running, a human pinball trampoline and the basketball trampoline court.
Take little ones to the Early Start Discovery Space to visit Australia’s only dedicated children’s museum. The life-sized exhibits provide interactive, play-focused experiences that include crawling inside a giant stomach, designing and building a house, acting on the stage, crawling through a cave and much more.