The city and surrounding conurbation is located on a coastal plain and backed by a forested escarpment. It's modern origins are in coal mining and steel production, industries which persist, notably the BHP steel facility at Port Kembla to the south. A dedicated port exists for the transport of materials whereas private craft and fishing boats use a separate facility nearer the city centre in Belmore Basin.
The population of Wollongong is predominately young, due to the prominence of the University and the many young families living in the area. As a result, everything is reasonably priced.
It is not so much a tourist destination but a base, there being many interesting and beautiful locations within easy reach. The immediate area possesses some fine beaches and reasonable body surfing.
Transport Infoline provides up-to-date information on train, bus and ferry travel statewide.
By car Wollongong is only 60 to 70 minutes south of Sydney's Kingsford Smith International Airport (SYD). There is a link by train to the main Sydney to Wollongong rail service and two private bus companies operate shuttle services from the airport to any destination door to door in the Illawarra / Wollongong region.
The grandly titled Illawarra Regional Airport is more often referred to as Albion Park Airport, and is located to the south of the city at the intersection of the Princes Highway (F6) and the Illawarra Highway. From June 6th 2005 onwards, Qantas will be running once and twice daily flights between Illawarra Regional Airport and Melbourne's Tullamarine Airport, which is about $150 per way. See http://www.qantas.com.au for full details on fares and schedules. The airport is still mostly used by private pilots, flying schools and possibly charter services. It is a base of the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) see See.
From Sydney take the F6 south to Wollongong via Mount Ousley pass. There is an exit from this freeway to the Bulli Pass which throws itself straight down the escarpment (so don't take it unless you are immune to travel sickness). From the South Coast region, take the Princes Highway (F6).
An interesting alternative (if you are in no particular hurry) is to take the road through Royal National Park from Loftus to Otford, then drive through the seaside towns such as Stanwell Park and Coalcliff to Wollongong. Unfortunately rain has washed part of this road away so it will be closed to through traffic until 2007 when they will open a spectacular roadway built over the sea.
The South Coast Cityrail line between Sydney and Nowra passes through Wollongong. This train is very crowded during the morning and evening peaks. The views of the ocean and rain forest from the train are spectacular so sit on the left hand side of the train (looking in the direction of travel) when travelling from Sydney or the right hand side travelling to Sydney.
Diving. Some of the best temperate water diving to be encountered anywhere can be found in Wollongong and areas to the south. Bass Point should be your stopping off point as it offers at least a dozen dives suitable to all standards of diver. Shellharbour SCUBA centre Shellharbour SCUBA Centreis a PADI 5 Star centre about three minutes drive from Bass point offering all facilities including boat dives, nitrox and courses.
Sky-Diving. Wollongong's amazing scenery is even more amazing seen from above. If the mountain lookouts aren't exciting enough for you, the option to sky-dive is yours. A number of companies operate out of Illawarra Regional Airport, one of these being the Bushsports group http://www.bushsports.com.au/skydiving
University of Wollongong NSW 2522 (main campus Northfields Avenue, Gwynneville, next to the Botanical Gardens, shuttle bus service operates from North Wollongong Station). 4221-3555 (fax 4221 4322, email for prospective students <[email protected]>). http://www.uow.edu.au/ Twice awarded the prestigious accolade of Australia's "University of the Year" and always highly rated in the Good Universities Guide, the University sits nestled below a sub-tropical rain-forest overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The campus is one of the most attractive in Australia.
==Eat== The food! The choices! The price! Everything about Wollongong's eateries is excellent. People even flock from Sydney to get an 5 star meal at a great price. There is something for everyone...
Dunes Restaurant and Cocktail Bar A recently opened establishment which serves modern Australian cuisine and quality cocktails. A main meal costs $20 on average. The feature of Dunes is that it overlooks the famous North and South Beaches from Flagstaff Hill (http://larkin.net.au/flagstaff_hill/index.htm)