Out and About
Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia
Stop and Smell the Flowers!
Wollongong Botanic Garden
Open weekdays 7am-4:45; weekends 10am-4:45
Nestled at the base of Mt. Keira is the Wollongong Botanic Garden, just three kilometers from the city centre, and adjacent to the University of Wollongong. It is the perfect place to take a walk, picnic or relax! The garden features a rose garden, a water lily pond with a Japanese bridge, rainforest, and wetland habitats. Immaculately landscaped, the gently undulating lawn has many wooden benches and platforms to sit on. I would often visit the garden to eat my lunch in the break I had between classes, choosing a different spot to sit in each time, and I could never get over just how beautiful and peaceful a place it was.
Discover the best views of Wollongong!
Get Your Exercise!
A short distance from the garden is Mt. Kiera Rd., which leads to the mountain’s summit, where there are picnic areas, a restaurant and lookouts for excellent photo opportunities. If you are feeling fit, take the climb up, which starts on Robson’s Rd. and takes about three to four hours round trip. If you choose to do this, pay careful attention to the trail and trail signs, as I, lacking obvious direction sense, mistakenly followed a dried-up river bed and had to navigate some very steep rocks to get to the top. I got some very strange looks when I emerged below the lookout point, triumphant, muddied, and bloodied. If you can get up early enough, drive or climb up to see a spectacular sunrise on the eastern seaboard.
Shop Till You Drop!
Crown Street Mall
Featuring David Jones, Grace Bros, Rebel Sport and over 250 specialty stores.
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday & Friday 9.00am-5.30pm. Thursdays 9.00am-9.00pm. Saturday 9.00am-4.00pm. Sunday 10.00am-4.00pm.
Apparently the American “Let’s keep everything open 24 hours for optimum convenience” bug has yet to hit Australia. You will be surprised to find that besides Thursday evenings, most shops are closed by four or five o’clock; that’s right, even on the weekends. You get your shopping done when the stores are open, and the store employees get their sleep. I mean who really needs to wander the retail aisles at 1 am? Convenience stores were made for these isolated cases of insomniac consumerism!
Every Friday from 9am-3pm the Wollongong Produce & Creative Traders Market takes over the lower half of Crown Street. Fresh, local produce is in abundance and funky handmade jewelry and tarot card readings keep things lively. There are also a lot of good food stalls. Try the homemade Turkish pastries and I promise you will not be disappointed!
Cheer on the Home Team!
Corner of Crown and Harbour Streets
Phone: +61 02 4220 2800
Home to the St George Illawarra Dragons (rugby league), Wollongong Hawks (basketball) and Wollongong Wolves (soccer). Score a cheap lawn-seat ticket on the day of the game for around 10$AUD. You’ll swear you’ve never had this much fun getting pushed, sat and spilled upon! It doesn’t matter if you don’t completely understand the rules of rugby league, just get rowdy!
Be a Beach Bum!
City beach is where you will find most of the surfing action. The beach has great views of the lighthouse on the bluff, as well as great views of Port Kembla’s steel works plant (uggh). The Continental baths (outdoor pools) are located on the other side of Wollongong harbour, before North beach, along the cyclist/pedestrian pathway. Filled with salt water, the baths are a good place to swim laps and avoid the waves, although they do occasionally find their way over the wall. North beach is the lovely strip of sand below beautiful Stuart Park, which has barbeque facilities. The radio station 98.1FM also sits right above the beach, broadcasting music on outdoor speakers on the weekends. Both beaches have excellent food kiosks; a little pricey, but the fresh fruit smoothies are a real treat. Both beaches are patrolled by lifeguards from September to April.
Always swim between the lifeguard flags, unless you fancy getting hit in the head by a surfboard or dragged off in a rip current. Always wear sunscreen, even if it is overcast. There is a huge hole in the ozone layer right above Australia. The sun is hot, the lobster look is not.
Skydive the beach!
ph: (02) 4225-8444
Price: from $268 to $320
NSW’s only beach skydive. Located in Stuart Park.