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Last Updated: Friday, 26 September, 2003, 10:37 GMT 11:37 UK
City guide: Wollongong
Wollongong is Australia's answer to England's Sheffield - the steel-producing capital of the country with the largest steelworks to boot.

Often the area is more commonly known as Illawarra, referring specifically to the hills that overlook the city - the Illawarra Escarpment.

Illawara, in turn, comes from the Aboriginal word allowrie or eloura meaning white clay mountain or high place near the sea.

The misnomer that Wollongong is nothing but an industrial capital lives on but, in reality, it is a charming location.

A picturesque harbour, a plethora of fishing spots, stunning walks and superb beaches are just a few of the city's attributes.

Population: 260,000
Location: South-east coast
Climate: Mediterranean - hot in summer and generally mild but rainy in winter
Geography: Just 81km south of Sydney along the Princes Highway
Interesting fact: Novelist DH Lawrence lived here in 1922 while writing Kangaroo

Belmore Basin is the name of the harbour - the former hub of the region but still worth a visit.

The town's history is all put down at the Illawara Museum from the end of the 18th century to today.

But possibly the area's most novel tourist attraction is the Nan Tien Buddhist Temple.

Situated on 55 hectares of hillside, the vast complex is the largest Buddhist temple in the southern hemisphere, surrounded by beautiful pagodas, shrines and rose gardens.

The city itself has been home to the Wodi Wodi tribe for 20,000 years.

But the first Europeans to make their way there were George Bass and Matthew Flinders, who ended there when their boat capsized in 1796.

Searching for water and repairs, the pair were surrounded by hostilities, but recovered the situation by shaving the locals.

It was not until 1815 that the area's lush pastures were finally uncovered - on this occasion by Charles Throsby.

The increased settlement by whites led to the first true conflict with the aborigines in 1826, which led to soldiers being sent to the area.

Wollongong's first inklings of their industrial future became clear in 1849 when the first coal mine opened. By 1880, there were another nine mines.

Through time, coal and later steel production took off in a big way, helped by an influx of migrants.

As a result, Wollongong still boasts a very multi-cultural society.

Links to more Venues Guide stories



Best boozerBest boozer
Oxford Tavern, Crown St

Best meat restaurantBest meat restaurant
Admirals, 2-14 Cliff Road
Gambler's denGambler's den

Wollongong Central, 200 Crown Mall

Best veggie tuckerBest veggie tucker
Angelo's Trattoria, Stewart Street
Belmore Basin


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