A seaside town with slow-burning charm, the 'Gong' lies 80km (and dozens of beauteous beaches) south of Sydney. Committed surfers and cheerful retirees are united in their love of Wollongong's beaches, while the bar and restaurant scenes effervesce with the enthusiasm of a town twice its size.
Countless generations of the Wodi Wodi, a sub-group of the Dharawal people, have inhabited the Illawarra region for some 40,000 years, leaving tangible traces such as shell middens. The town's mannered 19th-century history as a seaside resort, and today's surf-centred culture, dominate. But visitors can glimpse Wollongong's Aboriginal past and present at the botanic garden, the art gallery and windswept Bellambi Point.