Located 81km south of Sydney is Wollongong , home to approximately 250,000 people. It’s the third largest city in New South Wales and where you’ll find some of the best beaches on the east coast.
But there’s far more to the area than just crystal clear water and expansive sandy beaches. Take a look at the quick guide below, designed to give you a little inspiration and highlight some of the best actives and restaurants Wollongong has to offer.
1. Grab some brekkie at Diggies cafe on beach
Local brothers, Stan and Aaron Crinis, opened Diggies Cafe ten years ago in an iconic, heritage listed building a stones throw from the sand.
The bright, casual cafe with open windows overlooking North Wollongong beach is buzzing all day long starting from 6.30 in the morning.
Joggers, surfers, people on their way to work and good friends all gather here to enjoy their daily brew with a view and ocean breeze.
- Where: 1 Cliff Rd, Wollongong
- Hours: 6.30am until 4pm 7 days a week
- Getting there: Walk along Bourke St from North Wollongong Station, towards the beach. The 1.2km walk should take around 16 minutes.
- More info: www.diggies.com.au
2. Head to Beast & Bread for coffee
Beast and Bread serve some of the Gong’s finest coffee.
The pulled pork and meatball sandwich are two menu items you need to try.
- Location: 8 Crown Ln, Wollongong
- Hours: Monday – Friday 8:30am – 8:30pm & Dinner 10am – 8:30pm on weekends
- Getting there: 7 minute walk from Wollongong Station
- More info: beastandbread.com.au
3. Relax with a piece of paradise on Wollongong City Beach
The picturesque Wollongong City Beach is one of the most popular in the area, and for good reason. With soft white sand, crystal clear water and great surfing conditions it’s the perfect spot to cool down over summer.
Directly behind the beach you’ll also find a picnic area with everything you need to have a BBQ with family and friends.
If you do go for a swim in the ocean please remember to always swim between the red and yellow flags. Surf lifesavers have identified this area as the safest spot to swim in the water. It’s also a good idea to always swim with a friend.
- Where: Wollongong Beach, Wollongong
- Getting there: From Wollongong Train Station take a 21 minute walk to the beach
- More info: visitnsw.com/
4. Watch the hang gliders fly overhead at Stanwell Park Beach
A little known fact about Stanwell Park is that it’s actually a famous landmark in aviation history. Back in November 12, 1894 it was the backdrop where Australian aeronautical pioneer Lawrence Hargrave first flew in his box kite.
The area’s relationship with aviation continues to this day, 123 years later it’s now recognised internationally as acclaimed area for hang-gliding and paragliding.
If paragliding isn’t your thing, the Bald Hill Lookout (located at the Stanwell Tops headland) gives you an excellent viewpoint to watch the hang gliders soar around the cliffs. Close by you’ll also find the Flying High Cafe, which is the ideal spot to grab a coffee and quick bite.
But if you want to lie back and take it easy, relaxing on the beach or nearby beachside park and taking in the view from below is just as good.
- Where: Bald Hill Lookout, Lawrence Hargrave Dr, Otford
- Getting there: Around a half an hour walk from Otford Station, or a short 5 minute taxi ride (2.2km) direct to Bald Hill Lookout.
- More info: visitnsw.com/destinations/south-coast
5. Tuck into a seafood lunch at Shellharbour Fish & Chips
Shellharbour is home to a plethora of fish and chip shops. You can find most locals at the far end of Addison Street at Harbour View Takeaway.
By the way, did we mention the views? They’re extraordinary.
- Location: 5 Addison St, Shellharbour
- Hours: Mon – Fri 10:00am – 8:00pm & 8:30pm on Thursdays. Weekend hours are 9:30am – 8:00pm
- Getting there: Bus route B52 from Shellharbour Junction to Little Park, Wollongong St, and then it’s a one minute walk
- More info: facebook.com/harbourview-takeaway
6. Or drop by Levendi Cafe for a quick bite
If you’re looking for big portions, affordable meals and a spectacular view , then make sure you swing by Levendi for lunch. It’s located at the heart of Wollongong Harbour with exquisite views and a wide range of freshly prepared delights.
They specialise in fish & chips, burgers, salads, handmade artisan gelato, cakes and of course, coffee.
It can get pretty busy and popular here on the weekend, best to get in early to avoid the queues.
- Where: Cliff Rd, Wollongong
- Hours: Open 7 days a week from 6.30am until 6pm
- Getting there: From Wollongong Station catch the 55A Gong Shuttle from Crown Street. Hop off at the 5th stop on Cliff Rd after Harbour St — Levendi is a 1 minute walk away
- More info: facebook.com/levendiwollongongharbour/
7. Take a trip to the amazing Nan Tien Temple
The serene Nan Tien Temple is one of the largest Buddhist temples in the Southern Hemisphere. Set amid beautifully landscaped gardens, the complex is famous for its two giant prayer halls known as the Great Mercy Shrine and the Great Hero Hall.
Despite being one of Wollongong’s biggest tourist attractions, it’s a genuinely peaceful and tranquil place to visit. The centre also offers classes on Tai chi, calligraphy and meditation.
- Where: Nan Tien Temple, Nolan St, Berkeley
- Hours: Open 6 days a week 9am until 5pm. Closed Mondays
- Getting there: From Wollongong Station walk 3 minutes to Piccadilly Shops Princes Hwy near Denison St and catch the B34 Wollongong to Warrawong via Berkeley. The Nan Tien Temple is the 18th stop. The entire journey will take you around 21 minutes.
- More info: nantien.org.au/en
8. Head over to the Wollongong City Art Gallery
The famous Wollongong Art Gallery is one of the largest regional art museums in Australia.
It’s home to an important collection of Australian, Aboriginal and Asian art.
Their exhibitions and activities are designed to highlight the unique energy and creativity of the Illawarra region, as well as those derived from partner institutions around Australia and the world.
- Where: 46 Burelli St, Wollongong
- Hours: Open 6 days a week. Weekdays 10 am until 5 pm. Weekends 12pm – 4pm. Closed Mondays.
- Getting there: From Wollongong Train Station you can catch bus route B11, 24, 31, 34, 35, 39, 51, 53, 55A, 57, 65 or 887 from Station Street. This will take you down Burelli St and drop you outside the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre. From there the Wollongong Art Gallery is 84m away. Total travel time is around 5 minutes
- More info: wollongongartgallery.com
9. Recharge with an afternoon treat at Kurtosh
You’ll also find a top tier selection of slab cakes and delectable pastries. If you are feeling hungry for something sweet, then you definitely need to visit Kurtosh.
- Location:Wollongong Central, Globe Lane, 200 Crown Street, Wollongong
- Hours: Monday – Sun Lunch 8am – 10pm
- Getting there: 3 minute walk from Wollongong station to Crown St mall
- More info: kurtosh.com.au
10. Wander through Wollongong’s Botanic Garden
First opened to the public in 1965, the Wollongong Botanic Garden is a great way to escape the everyday with its network of paths to explore and hidden treasures to discover.
In addition to the many garden collection themes, they have an all abilities playground that includes swings, a sand pit, slippery dip, climbing net, viewing platform and a maze suitable for children aged 2 to 12 years.
Throughout the year they have a wide range of activities from guided walks and community workshops that focus on environmental sustainable practices through to band recitals, theatrical entertainment, and sunset cinema screenings. Check out their event calendar for a list of upcoming activities.
- Where: Murphys Ave, Keiraville
- Hours: Open 7 days a week. 7am – 6pm (6.45pm Sat & Sun)
- Getting there: From Wollongong Station walk 3 minutes to Piccadilly Shops Princes Hwy near Denison St. Catch the 55C Gong Shuttle CW to Wollongong TAFE on University Av. Once at the Uni, take a 16 minute walk to the Wollongong Botanic Garden. The entire trip will take you 27 minutes
- More info: wollongong.nsw.gov.au/botanicgarden
11. Be entertained at the Science Centre and Planetarium
The Science Centre and Planetarium is the largest hands-on science centre in NSW. Each year around 45,000 people visitor the centre making it one of the Illawarra’s leading indoor tourist attractions.
There are different science shows on offer depending on the month, but expect to see experiments with liquid nitrogen, giant bubbles, bursts of fire and all manner of weird and wonderful scientific tricks.
One of the highlights of a trip to the centre is going to the Planetarium show. There you’ll explore the stars as the Zeiss star projector takes you on a fascinating tour of the night sky.
- Where: 60 Squires Way, North Wollongong
- Hours: Open 7 days a week from 9am until 4pm. Hours can vary during school holidays. Check the website for details.
- Cost: Prices start from $14 for adults and $10 for children
- Getting there: From North Wollongong Train Station walk for 14 minutes to Kembla St near Pleasant Av and jump on the 55A Gong Shuttle. This will take you directly to the Innovation Campus and from there, the Science Centre & Planetarium is a 1 minute walk. Total travel time is around 19 minutes
- More info: sciencecentre.com.au
12. Tuck into some Wood Fire Pizza at Da Orlando Pizzeria
Da Orlando Pizzeria cooks in the traditional Roman style. The dough is proved for 72 hours prior to being cooked in the wood fire oven, making extra light and airy.
The menu is extensive, with all kinds of delicious combinations on offer. There’s also pasta and risotto available and a paired down menu for kids that includes schnitzels and chips.
- Where: 348 Keira St, Wollongong
- Hours: Open 7 days a week. Lunch 12pm – 2.30pm Dinner 5.30pm – 10pm
- Getting there: From Coniston Station walk 4 minutes to the bus stop at Auburn St opposition Coniston Public School. Jump on the B65 Port Kembla service. Hop off on the 3rd stop and take a 6 minute walk down West St.
- More info: daorlando.com.au