Beautiful Beaches and Charms of Illawarra

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Highlights of the Illawarra Region

  1. Scenic coastal drives offering breathtaking views of mountains and the sea.
  2. The vibrant cities of Wollongong and Shellharbour.
  3. The idyllic coastal town of Kiama with its famous blowhole.
  4. Fascinating coastal ecosystems teeming with unique flora and fauna.
  5. Historic Indigenous sites and Colonial-era settlements.
  6. Awe-inspiring national parks showcasing rainforests, waterfalls, and estuaries.
  7. Enthralling adventure activities like skydiving, surfing, and bushwalking.
  8. Illawarra’s impressive array of local produce and fine wines.
  9. Local cultural festivals showcasing the region’s heritage and community spirit.
  10. Art galleries and museums displaying works of both local and international significance.

Situated just south of Sydney, the Illawarra area is approximately a 90-minute drive away. Opt for a picturesque journey via the Grand Pacific Drive, passing through the Royal National Park. Alternatively, a train from Sydney also reaches the area in around the same time, making stops at most of the coastal towns in the region.

From Wollongong’s vibrant cityscape to Shellharbour’s serene coastal charm and Kiama’s rich heritage, the Illawarra offers super beaches, gorgeous coastline, a good range of restaurants, micro breweries, botanic gardens, boating, fishing, walking, entertainment and first class sporting venues. Wollongong University is one of Australia’s premier universities and has been rated in the top 200 universities around the world.

The traditional custodians of the land are the Aboriginal Wodi Wodi people. European settlers arrived in the 19th century, and the Illawarra has been shaped by many diverse cultures over the years with waves of immigrants moving into the region drawn by the Steelworks and other employment opportunities.

The economy of the Illawarra region thrives on a diverse range of industries. The area is known for its steel manufacturing, with Bluescope being a significant employer. Tourism also contributes significantly to the region’s prosperity, attracting millions of visitors each year with its breathtaking natural beauty and cultural offerings. The local agricultural sector, particularly dairy farming, is another pillar of Illawarra’s economy

Wollongong

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Wollongong lighthouse and harbour with views to the escarpment beyond

As the third-largest city in New South Wales, Wollongong, affectionately known as “The Gong,” pulses with an energy that blends the modernity of a cosmopolitan city with the tranquility of the surrounding nature. This city offers the best of both worlds to both locals and visitors alike.

A Cultural Hub

Wollongong is renowned for its vibrant cultural scene. The city is home to art galleries, a museum, and performance venues. The Wollongong Art Gallery, showcases an extensive collection of Aboriginal and Asian artworks. For theatre lovers, the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre offers an array of performances, from local productions to touring international acts.

Beyond the city’s cultural offerings, Wollongong is graced with a stunning natural landscape. The city’s pristine beaches are an invitation for visitors to immerse themselves in the sun, surf, and sand. Wollongong Harbour, an iconic feature of the city, offers stunning sea views and excellent dining experiences. Bushwalking trails in the surrounding Illawarra Escarpment offer awe-inspiring views of the city and coastline.

Destination Wollongong Website

Shellharbour-Boat_harbour
Shellharbour

Shellharbour

The picturesque village of Shellharbour enchants visitors with its laid-back coastal charm. A modern marina and a pretty boat harbour can be found in the town. It is also known for its seafood restaurants. Local catches, freshly served in waterfront establishments, create a dining experience that is as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the palate. 

Just beyond the city centre, visitors can explore the tranquil waters of Lake Illawarra or venture to the Macquarie Pass National Park, where cascading waterfalls and abundant wildlife await. For those with a keen interest in diving, Bass Point Reserve, a popular marine reserve, offers exceptional snorkeling and diving opportunities.

Visit Shellharbour Website

Kiama: A Coastal Town Steeped in Heritage

kiama_blowhole
Kiama Blowhole

Journey further south to the enchanting coastal town of Kiama. Known for its famous blowhole, Kiama is much more than a natural spectacle. This town, rich in heritage and natural beauty, holds a charm that is deeply rooted in its history. Wander through the town’s centre, and you’ll find beautifully preserved heritage buildings that speak of a bygone era. The Kiama Lighthouse and the Pilot’s Cottage Museum are landmarks that offer insights into the town’s maritime past. The Kiama Blowhole, a natural wonder where sea water spouts high into the air, is a must-visit attraction. Kiama is a bit of a festival town holding annual folk and jazz festivals.

Kiama is fringed by several pristine beaches such as Surf Beach and Kendalls Beach, ideal for a relaxing day by the sea.

The Kiama Coast Walk offers breathtaking ocean views, untouched beaches, and stunning rock formations along approximately 20 kilometers of varied paths, including sealed, grassed, and beach tracks. Suitable for most fitness levels, the walk spans from the Minnamurra River in the north to Werri Beach in Gerringong to the south. The journey is divided into three main sections: the North Section from Minnamurra River to Kiama Blowhole, the Mid Section from Kiama Blowhole to Loves Bay, and the South Section from Loves Bay to Gerringong, ensuring a continuous exploration experience for all walkers.

Visit Kiama Website

Twenty Things to Do in The Illawarra Region and Further Down the Coast to Jervis Bay

  1. Nan Tien Temple: A beautiful Buddhist temple located in Wollongong.
  2. Wollongong Botanic Garden: A serene garden with a wide variety of plants and walking trails.
  3. Grand Pacific Drive – Sydney to Wollongong and on to Shoalhaven: A scenic coastal drive that offers breathtaking views.
  4. Sea Cliff Bridge: A scenic bridge along the Grand Pacific Drive that offers breathtaking views of the coastline.
  5. Macquarie Pass National Park: A nature reserve with lush rainforests, waterfalls, and hiking trails.
  6. The Blowhole: A natural rock formation in Kiama that shoots water into the air.
  7. Jamberoo Action Park: A popular water park with thrilling slides and attractions.
  8. The Australian Motorlife Museum: A museum showcasing vintage cars, motorcycles, and memorabilia.
  9. The Haunted Lighthouse: A historic lighthouse in Wollongong with a spooky reputation.
  10. Pines Surfing Academy: Learn to surf or improve your skills with professional instructors.
  11. Bald Hill Lookout: A scenic lookout point in Stanwell Tops offering panoramic views of the coastline.
  12. Wollongong Head Lighthouse: A historic lighthouse located in Wollongong with stunning coastal views.
  13. Kiama Blowhole: A natural rock formation in Kiama that shoots water into the air, creating a spectacular sight.
  14. Jervis Bay Marine Park: A protected marine park known for its crystal-clear waters, white sandy beaches, and diverse marine life.
  15. Illawarra Fly Treetop Adventures: Experience the thrill of walking on elevated treetop walkways and enjoy panoramic views of the rainforest.
  16. Symbio Wildlife Park: Get up close and personal with native Australian wildlife, including kangaroos, koalas, and crocodiles.
  17. Minnamurra Rainforest: Explore this lush rainforest with its picturesque waterfalls, walking trails, and abundant birdlife.
  18. Science Space: A hands-on science center in Wollongong where you can engage in interactive exhibits and learn about various scientific concepts.
  19. Illawarra Light Railway Museum: Discover the history of steam trains and take a ride on a heritage train at this fascinating museum.
  20. Illawarra Brewery: Enjoy locally brewed craft beers and delicious food at this popular brewery in Wollongong.

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