By John O'Reilly

If there’s a suburb that typifies the beachside village lifestyle that draws people to the Northern Illawarra, it’s probably Thirroul.
  • Population: 6,552
  • Highlight: 38% of households are made up of couples with children
  • Housing: 75% of households own their home

From Sandon Point just to the south, and north to Austinmer, Thirroul has a number of sandy beaches that will delight anyone keen on the surf, swimming, and morning walks on the beach. Thirroul’s village-like hub features a number of cafe and dining options, while it’s escarpment backdrop and leafy streets make it a desirable place to live.

Brief History

Before European settlement, Aboriginal people belonging to the “Thurrural” tribe roamed this area. There were many different ways of spelling the name, which translates to “the place or valley of the cabbage tree palms”. In the 1870s when settlement of the region began, all the area north of Wollongong was known as Bulli, and Thirroul was called North Bulli. Thirroul was mostly farmland, and in 1906 the first land parcels were advertised for auction. The town was known as Robbinsville, until a petition by the Department of Railways succeeded in having it changed to Thirroul in 1891. For a full history, see Wollongong City Council’s website

Getting around 

Thirroul is an easy 10-minute drive from Wollongong and located next to Bulli Pass, providing convenient access for people commuting to Sydney. The heritage-listed Thirroul Station is a stop for local and express trains, making it a popular commuter hub for people taking the journey to Sydney. Thirroul is connected to the Grand Pacific Walk, a coastal walking and cycle path that, with further stages of work, will enable people to ride or walk from Lake Illawarra to the Royal National Park.  

Dawn patrol at McMcCauley’s Beach.

Things to do 

Thirroul has no shortage of lifestyle options, particularly when it comes to eating and drinking. Two lively pubs, numerous cafes and restaurants, and an RSL club provide plenty of dining options, while the historic Anita’s Theatre has become a mainstay for live entertainment. The area is home to several surf breaks, the Thirroul pool is popular among swimmers as well as diners, and sits next to a park with play equipment for kids and grassy spaces for picnics. For outdoor lovers, the steep walk to Sublime Point tests even the fittest but rewards all who make it to the top with sweeping views of the coastline. Sports feature heavily in Thirroul, with clubs from surf lifesaving to cricket, netball, rugby league, soccer and more well served in the area. 

Shopping and services

Thirroul’s main street features all the essentials for groceries as well as a number of homewares, fashion, lifestyle, medical, and real estate options. Thirroul also hosts a branch of the Wollongong City library and a branch of Fire and Rescue NSW. Thirroul Beach is patrolled by Wollongong City Lifeguards and Thirroul Surf Lifesaving Club lifesavers. 

Thirroul Village is hub for dining, entertainment and shopping.


Several schooling options exist for families in the area. 

Primary Schools

  • Thirroul Public School, K-6
  • St Michael’s Primary School, K-6

High Schools

  • Bulli High School, 7-12 (nearest 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.