Are you looking for a place to escape to away from the big city? A place full of beautiful views, beaches and delicious food? How about Wollongong? Here are the best things to do in Wollongong.
Wollongong is the 10th largest city in Australia and is a 1.5-hour drive from Sydney. You could easily visit Wollongong as a day trip from Sydney but there’s enough to do if you plan on staying longer.
- 15 Things to do in Wollongong
- 1- Surf or sunbake on a Wollongong Beach
- 2- Visit NanTien Temple
- 3- Have fun at Jamberoo Action Park
- 4- Hangout with wildlife at Symbio Wildlife Park
- 5- Try Hang Gliding from Bald Hill
- 6- Drive the Sea Cliff Bridge
- 7- Illawarra Fly treetop walk
- 8- Discover the Wollongong Science Centre
- 9- Explore Minnamurra Rainforest
- 10- Visit Trainworks
- 11- Explore Illawarra Museum and Marketplace
- 12- Take a helicopter flight
- 13- Photograph the Wollongong Lighthouse
- 14- Explore Helensburgh Tunnel
- 15- Visit the Kiama Blowholes
- Discover Wollongong
15 Things to do in Wollongong
1- Surf or sunbake on a Wollongong Beach
As it is a coastal city, there are many beautiful beaches in Wollongong.
North Wollongong Beach and the Wollongong City Beach are fun and relaxing.
There’s something earthy about feeling the sand between your toes and the flow of the ocean around your feet.
There are numerous things to do in Wollongong, however, going to the beach would have to be high up on the priority list of most visitors.
Take a surfing lesson or a beach fishing tour with a professional.
For an adventure you will always remember, try skydiving over Wollongong’s beaches for an adrenalin rush with a splendid bird’s-eye view.
2- Visit NanTien Temple
Of all the Wollongong attractions, this Buddhist temple is one of the most impressive.
Wollongong’s NanTien Temple is also known as “Southern Paradise” because it is the largest Buddhist temple in the Southern Hemisphere.
Most visitors to Wollongong would not expect to find themselves visiting a Buddhist temple but, trust me, this temple is worth the trip.
The Nan Tien Institute has a programme of regular activities like meditation, retreats, excursions and art seminars. Tourists are welcome at this Wollongong Buddhist temple and participating in the activities is a serene experience.
3- Have fun at Jamberoo Action Park
Jamberoo Action Park is full of fun-packed activities for families and kids of all ages.
If you are travelling with the family, you cannot go wrong here.
Jamberoo recreation park is one of the largest theme parks in New South Wales and has attractions like mini golf, speed slides, wave pools and an exciting funnel web water slide that is part of the new Kangaroo Island development at Jamberoo water park.
4- Hangout with wildlife at Symbio Wildlife Park
Symbio Wildlife Park is in Helensburgh, which is on the outskirts of Sydney.
If you are visiting Wollongong, then this is the place to see wildlife.
Spend the day checking out the Sumatran tigers, meerkats, red pandas and tamarin monkeys.
Symbio zoo has a decent range of animals to attract wildlife lovers and families.
5- Try Hang Gliding from Bald Hill
Being a coastal city, the thermals around Wollongong are perfect for hang gliding, and there are hang gliding lessons for all levels of experience.
However, if you are undecided about whether or not to take the plunge, head to Bald Hill in Stanwell Park to watch the hang gliders throw themselves off the edge of the cliff.
Bald Hill is near the southern boundary of the Sydney Royal National Park and has a splendid view. of the Royal National Park and New South Wales coastline.
6- Drive the Sea Cliff Bridge
Just south of Sydney, at the entrance of the Royal National Park, Grand Pacific Drive is an impressive 140 km route through rainforests and seaside villages.
The star of the drive is the 665-metre Sea Cliff Bridge.
The balanced cantilever bridge cost $52 million and links the coastal villages of Coalcliff and Clifton.
Rent a sports car, put the roof down, crank up the music and head across Sea Cliff Bridge for a drive to remember.
7- Illawarra Fly treetop walk
Take the Illawarra Fly treetop walk through lush rainforests.
The steel walkway sways gently as you meander beneath the forest canopy 50m from the ground.
The Illawarra tree top walk brings you close to nature and is suitable for all the family.
However, adventurous travellers will love the range of Illawarra Fly Treetop Adventures offered.
The Illawarra Fly zip line is the highest zip line tour in Australia and involves soaring 35m above the ground on a series of cable spans and suspension bridges.
The views of the rainforest and coastline are stunning.
Combine the walk and the zip line experience for an Illawarra treetop experience to remember.
8- Discover the Wollongong Science Centre
Wollongong Science Centre and Wollongong Planetarium is an interactive, hands-on science centre with experiences for all ages.
There’s a science theatre and plenty of exhibits to captivate the entire family, especially if it is a rainy day!
Don’t miss the free science shows and planetarium shows.
From dinosaurs to space travel, this is the place to hide away for a few hours to stimulate the mind.
The facility is part of the University of Wollongong’s Innovation Campus.
9- Explore Minnamurra Rainforest
Explore the Minnamurra rainforest in Budderoo National Park, for gushing waterfalls and lookouts with jaw-dropping views.
It is the place to get away from the city and go bushwalking and bird watching.
Spend some time soaking up the energy of Minnamurra Falls.
The national park has decent facilities, including the Minnamurra Rainforest Centre, with riverside picnic areas and well-marked walks along raised boardwalks.
Alternatively, glide along the Minnamurra River in a canoe or kayak.
There are several spots to launch a kayak on your own, but if you are unsure of the Minnamurra tides, a guided tour is a less stressful way to experience the river.
10- Visit Trainworks
Trainworks is Australia’s top railway museum.
The Thirlmere train museum is home to a significant rail heritage collection.
It has more than 100 historical items associated with the history of New South Wales’ railways.
Of all the places to visit in Wollongong, the Thirlmere railway museum is the place that will impress railway buffs.
Thomas the Tank Engine fans will love visiting on Sundays for the heritage train ride between Thirlmere and Buxton.
It is a fabulous day out for families.
Bring a picnic and enjoy some time in the sun after learning about railway history at Trainworks Thirlmere.
Keep an eye out for the Thirlmere Steam Festival, which is in March each year.
11- Explore Illawarra Museum and Marketplace
Illawarra Museum is housed in the former post and telegraph office.
The historic building (1876-92) is a fitting place for the museum’s 19th-century displays.
Here you’ll get insights into the domestic Wollongong’s history and the Mt Kembla mining disaster.
The museum is next to Market Square, the historic town hub, which has a charming bandstand and old lamp posts.
12- Take a helicopter flight
The region around Wollongong is stunning from the sky.
Take a scenic flight to over the Jamberoo Valley and you’ll be wowed by spectacular Carrington and Gerringong Falls.
The bird’s-eye view of mountains, ocean and rainforests reveals the stunning cliff faces and gorges of the Great Dividing Range in NSW
13- Photograph the Wollongong Lighthouse
Did you know that Wollongong is the only point on Australia’s east coast that has two lighthouses?
The historic breakwater lighthouse in Wollongong harbour was restored in 2002 and is not active.
The white Flagstaff Hill lighthouse and sits on Flagstaff Hill, which was built in 1936, has white and red lights light.
14- Explore Helensburgh Tunnel
Helensburgh Tunnel is a hidden treasure near Wollongong. The tunnel was constructed in the 1800s and is a photogenic spot.
The tunnel is sandwiched between two rock cliffs and is home to glow worms and, according to some, ghosts.
The tunnel was part of the railway line, which was abandoned in the 1920’s. The tunnel was recently fenced off so you may or may not be able to get in to see the glow worms.
15- Visit the Kiama Blowholes
A 40-minute drive south of Wollongong lies the sleepy seaside town of Kiama.
Seeing the Kiama blowhole is one of the top things to do in Kiama.
First sighted in 1797 by George Bass, when he anchored his whaleboat in Kiama harbour, the Kiama blowholes are a wonder of nature.
They were formed over 250 thousand years ago.
The larger blowhole has an opening of 2.5m and allows the sea to gush through the opening and up into the air for 30m.
Here’s a map of Wollongong to help you get your bearings.[google_maps id=”41510″]
Hotels in Wollongong range from top international brands to apartment-style stays. There are eight internationally branded Wollongong hotels and plenty of B&Bs. If you are on a road trip, there are some caravan parks in Wollongong to choose from too.
Getting from Sydney to Wollongong by car is an easy one hour’s drive along the Princess Highway and freeway. However, if you have more time, the Bulli Pass is the more scenic route.
Best restaurants in Wollongong
You will not go hungry in Wollongong as there are hundreds of eateries to choose from and a range of cuisines. Here are three suggestions:
Altitude 1148 is a contemporary restaurant that serves up modern Australian cuisine in Bulli Tops. The restaurant has impressive floor-to-ceiling glass doors that open onto a balcony with fantastic coastal views.
Caveau was award a chef hat in the 2017 SMH Good Food Guide Awards. Treat yourself to the seven-course French degustation menu for a dining experience you will not forget.
Samba Brazil is the place for a traditional Brazilian barbecue and a Latin dancing show.
What’s on in Wollongong
Wollongong nightlife is buzzing hidden bars, quirky cafes and new nightspots. The bar and club scene is hopping in Wollongong, and places like His Boy Elroy, Howlin Wolf and The Throsby are fun spots to have a cocktail or a beer with friends.
There are many festivals and events in Wollongong throughout the year, including theatre festivals, art exhibitions and charity walks.
There are many places to visit in NSW along the coast. Here are some Port Stephens things to do. If you like cities, there are lots of amazing things to do in Newcastle NSW and things to do in Port Macquarie.