Featuring the conveniences of big city life, with the easy, breezy pace of a seaside holiday spot. The vast beaches, wide streets and leafy parks of Woollongong compel a visitor to relax. So when you visit the ‘Gong, slow down and enjoy.[fold]
There’s no shortage of beachside cafes in Wollongong, each with distractingly beautiful views. Diggies is your archetypal beachside eatery. The building is light, open and airy; the staff are tanned and chirpy; and the meals are fresh, healthy and delicious. Whether you’re popping in for coffee and a homemade sweet treat (like a slice of the flourless chocolate cake or oven-fresh rhubarb strawberry pie), or something more substantial like the humungous ‘Big One’, featuring bacon, two eggs, roast tomato, house sausage, crispy chats, mushrooms and Turkish toast, you’re bound to leave sated and impressed.
1 Cliff Road, North Wollongong
(02) 4226 2688
For something more upmarket, without the pricelist, try Northbeach Pavilion in Wollongong’s heritage-listed North Beach Bathers’ Pavilion. The crisp, contemporary décor and friendly service – courtesy of waiters in pressed red aprons – alongside the water’s edge make for a delightful dining experience. The menu changes seasonally so there’s always something to go back for, but the house specialty is the pizza. The wood fire pizza oven imported from Naples pumps out tray after tray of charred-to-perfection pizzas and the aromas wafting from the kitchen are irresistible. Come for a long lunch, order a bottle of wine and all your troubles will float away with the sea breeze.
5 Cliff Road, North Wollongong
(02) 4225 2555
Grab a spot by the window and gaze at the beach below. Or tuck yourself inside with wine or cocktail and let the vintage foreign posters whisk you away to another world. The ‘Vegetable Patch’ dish is a highlight of the lunch menu: grilled polenta with layers of roasted Mediterranean vegetables, spinach and feta stacked on top, surrounded by dollops of fresh pesto.
5/16 Cliff Road, North Wollongong
(02) 4229 3141
The Illawarra Brewing Company is the new incarnation of the Five Islands Brewing Company, established in 2001. Their repertoire includes seven staple handcrafted beers and two seasonally changing brews that are supplied to local cafes and pubs. The beers contain no additives, preservatives or added sugars and are made using only the highest grade ingredients. Work your way through the beer list at The Illawarra Brewery Bar and Restaurant. If you bring a group of 10 or more you can order the Beer & Cheese Degustation for $25 per person.
WIN Entertainment Centre, Corner Crown & Harbour Streets, Wollongong
(02) 4220 2854
This town seems to propel its residents outdoors. There are 17 sparkling surf beaches along the Wollongong coastline. The City Beach attracts young and old, while North Wollongong draws in the uni crowds. If you’re not feeling up to the surf, there are plenty of rock pools and free eight-lane ocean pools dotting the water’s edge, perfect for fresh Sunday morning laps. When the water is too cold, jump on a bike and cruise the myriad of bike lanes the weave along 60 kilometres of coastline or head to Osborne Park in North Wollongong, where there’s an outdoor gym circuit featuring a cross-training machine, a stationary bike, weights machines and more.
Adventure seekers should look no further than Skydive The Beach Sydney. Every weekend, beachgoers watch waves of tandem skydivers float to earth like colourful petals in the wind. You can understand why – the view from the 15,000-foot jump spans nearby national parks, coastline communities from Wollongong to South Sydney and stunning panoramas of the vast ocean. Jumpers freefall at over 200 kilometres per hour for up to 65 thrilling seconds, then float under the parachute canopy for between five and seven minutes, before landing next to North Wollongong Beach.
Beach Office, Stuart Park (Corner George Hanley Drive and Cliff Road)
1300 663 634
Nan Tien Temple
For a culture hit, visit the jaw-dropping Nan Tien Temple, which looks like something straight out of Asia (if not a movie set). Overlooking the nearby Mount Keira and Mount Kembla, it is the largest Buddhist temple in the Southern Hemisphere and is known as the ‘Southern Paradise’. Guided tours are available but entry to the temple and gardens is free. There is also a museum, meditation hall and huge dining hall that serves traditional Asian fare (all vegetarian).
180 Berkeley Road, Berkeley
(02) 4272 0600
You can't beat the location of the Novotel Woollongong Northbeach. Everything is footsteps away, if not in the hotel lobby. It's the tallest building on the coastline so it offers unimpeded 360 degree views of the city, along with all the facilities and services (24 hours reception, gym, pool, sauna, etc) you'd expect from the hotel chain. Your stay there might not break any travel boundaries, but who cares when you can watch the sun rise and set from your balcony?
2-14 Cliff Rd Wollongong
(02) 4224 3111