By John O'Reilly

Coledale is the hub of activity for a series of seaside villages that includes Wombarra, Scarborough and Clifton. It sits nestled between the dramatic escarpment and ocean, and with the hugging the coast, it’s a popular section of Grand Pacific Drive, including the spectacular Sea Cliff Bridge.
  • Population: 2,613 (Wombarra – Coledale – Scarborough – Clifton statistical area)
  • Highlight: 41% of households are made up of couples with children
  • Housing: 78% of households own their home

While the amount of housing reduces as the strip of land between the escarpment and the ocean narrows, the area is home to an impressive array of designer homes. With secluded beaches, stunning views, and being on the doorstep of the Royal National Park, it’s a popular lifestyle destination for people looking for a sea change.

Brief History

Local communities of Aboriginal people were the original inhabitants and Traditional Custodians of Illawarra Land along this strip of coast. Coledale, like many of the suburbs in the northern Illawarra, has a history in timber and coal mining; Coledale was at one stage called Coaldale. In 1902 a new railway platform, incorporating a post and telegraph office, was opened on the South Coast line and called Coledale. In 1903, housing allotments were sold for the miners working in Coledale mine. Mining continued in Coledale until 1973 when the local collieries were closed. For a full history, see Wollongong City Council’s website

Getting around 

Coledale, Scarborough and Wombarra have train stations on the South Coast line, linking residents with Sydney and Wollongong. Many commuters park at Helensburgh to the north or Thirroul to the south for express services. Bus services link the suburbs with Wollongong along Grand Pacific Drive. Car travellers can connect to the M1 and Sydney via Helensburgh, making it a popular base for people working in Sydney. The section of Grand Pacific Drive is also much-loved among cyclists, with morning rides along a stretch of coast with some of the best views in Australia. 

Coldedale pool at sunrise.

Things to do 

Beaches, cafes, bushwalks and majestic views are a feature of life in Coledale and its surrounds. The famous Scarborough Hotel serves up great food and even better views, while the Coledale RSL is another favourite among locals. Coledale, Scarborough, and Wombarra feature iconic ocean pools, and Coledale is also a popular beach for surfers and swimmers. The historic Imperial Hotel at Clifton, originally a watering hole for local mine workers, has been brought back to life. After many years of being closed and left derelict, the two-storey building, built in 1911, will soon be reopened as a cafe, restaurant and venue. For swimmers, surf lifesaving clubs at Coledale, and Scarborough-Wombarra, have a rich history of club activities and keep a watchful eye on beachgoers. The region also features a number of sporting clubs, such as junior and senior soccer. 

Shopping and services

The main hub of Coledale features several lifestyle options, from gift stores to cafes, a liquor store, take away food, and health and beauty. Coledale is also home to a fire station and a hospital that specialises in rehabilitation and aged care services for the northern Illawarra.

Coledale Beach and surf lifesaving club.


Several schooling options exist for families in the area. The suburb, including Russell Vale, is served by three public primary schools and one public high school.

Primary Schools

  • Coledale Public School, K-6
  • Scarborough Public School, K-6
  • Austinmer Public School, K-6

High Schools

  • Bulli High School, 7-12 (nearest high school)

Use the NSW Government’s School Finder to see which school catchment you might be in.

Looking to sell your property? Let John and the team look after you

I was born to be in sales. From a very early age, I was serving and helping clients in my father’s hardware business and giving them advice, which is scary. I love working with people, helping them get what they want, and pushing myself to excel. My friends and family that know me well laugh about all the jobs I have done over the years, but it was all to get me to this point in my life, a real estate agent.