Wollongong is New South Wales 3rd largest city and is known as “The Gong”. Just over an hours drive south of Sydney, past Stanwell Park, the gateway to the leisure coast, you’ll find Wollongong in all its glory. As you enter Wollongong you’ll see a mixed palette of houses, industrial sites, sand and blue skies.
Known as the Illawarra, an Aboriginal word meaning "between the high place and the sea", this is a region of coastal sandstone escarpments, rocky headlands, and sheltered beaches complimented by a mountainous backdrop.
The area was originally inhabited by the Dharwal Aborigines. The first Europeans to visit the area were the navigators George Bass and Matthew Flinders who landed in Lake Illawarra in 1796.
Captain Cook attempted a landing here in April 1770 but was unsuccessful due to the rough conditions. Eventually settlers arrived and the first of these were timber getters and farmers. The Bulli Pass was established in 1868 and enabled more settlers to arrive from Sydney by land.
In the 1920’s Wollongong’s famous manufacturing steelworks industry began and is now a major economic element of the city owned and operated by BHP, Australia’s largest company.
Science Centre and Planetarium
A great place where kids of all ages will be kept occupied for hours! There are choreographed laser shows, exhibits that are ‘hands-on’, the planetarium theatre shows amazing images from earth shot from outer space and a simulated ride through the Milky Way to galaxies.
The current themes are "Electricity", "The Changing Earth", "Energy and Motion", "Visions", "Microscopes" and "Astronomy".
Australia’s Industry World
Australia’s Industry World (AIW) in Port Kembla is one of the Southern Hemisphere’s largest and dynamic industrial centres.
Nan Tien Temple
Grand Master Hsing Yun has founded over 120 branches world wide, Nan Tien opened in 1995 and is the largest in the Southern Hemisphere attracting about 200,000 visitors per year; many take part in ceremonies, retreats, tai chi courses and vegetarian cooking classes.
Nan Tien meaning “Paradise of the Southern Hemisphere” is dominated by a 7 tiered tapering Pagoda containing 3 shrines lined with more than 10,000 Buddhas.
Surrounded by magnificent gardens, a meditation hall, museum and conference centre – the Nan Tan Temple is designed to promote serenity, harmony and cultural exchange.
Why not stay at the Temple at the Pilgrim Lodge, and wake to the 6am Gong and take Tai Chi or meditation classes. A 3 story building consisting of 100 suites is a peaceful and spiritual escape from the stresses of daily life.
Main Shrine – is the most important building here and is also called the Great Hero Wall. Inside there are 5 Buddhas meaning; Confidence, Longevity, Wisdom, Inner Beauty and Calmness.
Museum – A mirrored gallery where you can see thousands of Buddha’s at once, a display showing a single strand of human hair engraved with 28 words by a sharpened grain of rice done by an elderly Taiwanese Buddhist and various artworks from different artists.
Pagoda – an 8 storey resting place for the deceased. Visually a wonderful building, overlooking the valley. You can make a wish here too!
Meditation Hall – a large peaceful and calming room where you can chill right out and feel the benefits of meditation.
Pleasant Heights Bed & Breakfast
Within minutes from the CBD this ‘exotic sanctuary’ boutique style accommodation is a hidden treasure offering privacy and relaxation in a luxurious coastal, bushland setting. With a choice of 3 self-contained suites in amazing themes, you’ll be surprised at how affordable they are.
One by one, the rooms have been carefully renovated in unique styles, which suit that special weekend escape. Turn your back on the hustle and bustle for a tranquil haven that creates peace and serenity. The rooms even have heated floors!
Each booking includes a hamper filled with delightful goodies such as a fruit platter, cereals, juice, pastries, chocolates, champagne… In-suite aromatherapy massage is up for the taking if you so desire!
The Pleasant Suite – The superior suite, fitted with luxury appointments and exotic furnishings, own private oriental courtyard, balcony and ocean views. Spa bath, king size bed with crisp white linen. Refreshments on arrival and fruit platter replenished daily.
Sante Fe Suite – is a cosy self-contained suite with spa-bath, private terrace in a gorgeous bushland setting. In June 2003 Channel 7's 'Room for Improvement' did wonders to the interiors of this suite adding a mosaic wall, light box and framed the door way with layers of coloured wood.
Seascape Studio – Very slick and very vogue like, this neutral coloured studio has tasteful furnishings with a marble floor… simple yet very striking. Rise from the queen size bed to a million dollar ocean view, plus your very own private balcony.
Right opposite North Beach, this groovy, chic restaurant is the winner in my opinion is this area. Only 3 months old, this restaurant/bar has lots going for it.
With a great outdoor seating area, covered by a red awning, you could find yourself getting rather comfortable! There’s even a nice suede lounge you could kick back on!
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner you are also welcome for just drinks if you like.
Was previously an Asian restaurant, Marina has fully gutted and re designed the layout of the restaurant to create a warm and welcoming feel. Dark wooden floor boards set the tone, with dark tables and bright red chairs, unusual photography on the walls and long rectangle lamp shades with intertwined twigs help create this warm atmosphere.
Five Islands Brewery
One of the most consumed products by the Australian public is beer and us Aussies rank among the world’s top five beer drinking nations. Fierce & rigid dedication to local brews was always the norm until the last decade when the growth & acceptance of a wide range of quality brews began to occur. Once considered yuppified boutique breweries, these local drops are now heralded as enriching of Aussie culture as age old brewing methods & recipes are rediscovered.
The new range of Aussie ales have also inspired interest in brewing techniques and a new fascination of the role of beer through our history. How do they make it? What’s in it? Many breweries across Australia offer tours & tasting and the newest addition to the mix is the Five Islands Brewery opened by former Steelers star Michael Bolt, in Wollongong.
One of the positives about these brews is they are chemical & preservative free with no added sugar so supposedly there’s no hangover! They are all brewed on the premise from grain & served directly from the tanks. Free brewery tours run on Saturdays to learn about how the beer is made and tastings of the local brews are also available.