Wollongong

By Grant Reynolds

Combining beachside living with a city lifestyle, it’s easy to see why Wollongong is becoming an increasingly popular place to live.
  • Population: 21,489
  • Highlight: 12.5% of households were made up of couples with children
  • Housing: 36% of households were purchasing or fully owned their home

Wollongong and its neighbouring suburbs are the economic, social and political hub of the Illawarra. With roots in timber, coal, and steel, the city is undergoing constant renewal but still retains its sense of ease it’s known for. Wollongong’s skyline tells the story: cranes dotted across the city show the only way is up as the steel city evolves into a bustling urban hub, with high-rise living and food and entertainment options to satisfy all tastes. The property market has been a key part of the city’s growth. From highly sought after detached houses on larger blocks to affordable units and new, more luxurious apartment developments, there is plenty of property options for first home buyers to investors and everyone in between.

Brief history

The original inhabitants and traditional custodians of the land are the Dharawal people. The name Wollongong is believed to come from the Aboriginal word woolyungah, meaning five islands. Following European settlement, timber was the primary industry. In 1849 the first coal mine in the Illawarra was opened at Mount Keira, and coal became the dominant industry for more than a century. The first stage of Wollongong Harbour was completed in 1844, and it became a centre for the transport of goods between Wollongong and Sydney. For a full history, see Wollongong City Council’s Website.

Getting around

Living in the heart of Wollongong means you won’t need to travel far for amenities and daily living essentials. For those employed locally, it’ll be a simple walk or quick drive to work. The free Gong Shuttle bus also circles the city every 20 minutes and is popular with students and commuters. The network of walking and cycling paths make access to the Wollongong coast a breeze. For Sydney commuters, the South Coast line has regular express services from Wollongong and North Wollongong stations. The suburb is also close to Mt Ousley Road for car commuters.

Things to do

The real question here is, what isn’t there to do? Spend time at one of the gorgeous beaches, with North Wollongong Beach and City Beach providing patrolled swimming areas and more than enough sand to find a spot to yourself. Come evening there’s plenty of food and entertainment options. There is a bustling café scene as well as many speciality bars offering unique cocktails and craft beers. Foodies are spoiled for choice, with a variety of restaurants covering all manner of cuisines and budgets. Wollongong is also home to a lively arts and culture scene, based around the Wollongong Art Gallery and the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre and smaller venues. For sports fans, Wollongong is, of course, home to WIN Stadium and the Win Entertainment Centre. Stand on the famous hill to cheer on the Dragons, or grab a seat inside to see the Hawks fly the flag for Illawarra basketball.

Shopping and services

The advantage of city living is that you have all of the amenities you could need and more right at your fingertips. Whether it’s the daily essentials or a shopping spree, there is no shortage of options in the bustling CBD. Crown Street Mall is the shopping hub, with Wollongong Central at the northern end of the mall providing dozens of specialty shops and dining options. As a major regional centre, Wollongong is served by major public and private hospitals.

Schools

Primary schools

  • Wollongong Public School, K-6
  • Wollongong West Public School, K-6 (West Wollongong)
  • Coniston Public School, K-6 (Coniston)
  • Gwynneville Public School, K-6 (Gwynneville)

High Schools

  • Smith’s Hill High School, 7-12
  • Wollongong High School of the Performing Arts, 7-12
  • Keira High School, 7-12

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