Woonona could just be the place to raise a family. The beachside suburb has a perfect mix of lifestyle and livability.
- Population: 14,616 (Woonona – Russell Vale statistical area)
- Highlight: One in three households (34.1%) are families with children
- Housing: 70% of households were purchasing or fully owned their home
The beachside suburb has a perfect mix of long stretches of beach, ample sporting clubs and playing fields, local schools, a growing cafe scene, and easy access to Sydney via Bulli Pass, or take the Northern Distributor into Wollongong in just a few minutes.
The traditional custodians and original inhabitants of the area were the Dharawal people. Captain Cook attempted to land at Collins Rock, now the site of the much-loved Woonona Rock Pool and its historic bather’s pavilion, in 1770. Following European settlement, land grants were issued for farming, and throughout the mid to late 1800s, the region’s plentiful cedar trees, and later coal, supported the growth of a small township. Several historic buildings can still be seen, including the Woonona School of Arts (1935), Woonona Post Office (1903, now a pre-school), Woonona Industrial Co-operative (1904), among others. For a full history, see Wollongong City Council’s website.
Woonona has ample convenient transport connections. It is served by the Northern Distributor then connects with routes to Sydney, and access to Wollongong, while the Princes Highway, once a main thoroughfare, now provides an alternate route to neighbouring suburbs. A station on the Illawarra line allows commuters to connect with express trains to Sydney, or south to Wollongong for easy access to the University, hospital and other key services. For those wanting a bit of exercise or a beachside commute to work in Wollongong, the Coastal Cycleway runs through almost beachside.
Things to do
It’s hard to go past the surf. Woonona has a number of peaky beach breaks that are renowned for picking up swell from multiple directions, and holding shape when it gets big. For those into organised sports, Woonana has a number of strong clubs in a number of sports and activities. Rugby and football (soccer) are well served, with teams from juniors through to premier competitions, and true to Australian’s love of the beach, the Woonona Surf Lifesaving Club has a 100-year plus history of providing competition, fun, and keeping swimmers safe each summer. Woonona Bowling Club, founded in 1894, is the oldest Bowling Club in the Illawarra.
Woonona’s commercial heart is undergoing a shift from services to lifestyle, as more cafes, restaurants and gyms open. The main strip on Princes Highway features a number of dining options, from takeaway to dine in, including a much-loved pizza restaurant, Thai, Japanese, and for club-goers, the Woonona-Bulli RSL Club is a place to eat, be entertained, get fit, while supporting current and former members of the Australian Defence Force.
Shopping and services
Residents in Woonona are well served when it comes to looking after daily life. A supermarket just near Princes Highway and Woolworths not far away makes it easy to keep on top of the grocery shopping, while the Princes Highway features a number of quality butchers, bakery, chemist, doctors, dentists, banks, and a post office. Perhaps rare for modern living, Woonona remains a place where residents can get to know their postie, barista, butcher, grocer, and other mainstays of a community.
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.
- Woonona Public School, K-6
- Woonona East Public School, K-6
- Russell Vale Public, K-6
- Woonona High School, 7-12
Use the NSW Government’s School Finder to see which school catchment you might be in.