North Beach generally has better surf than Wollongong City Beach. The harbour's beaches are safer for children. North are the surfer magnets of Bulli, Sandon Point, Thirroul (where DH Lawrence lived during his time in Australia) and pretty Austinmer. The shores around Bellambi Point, a former Aboriginal tool site and burial place, are worth exploring for their long history.

Beautiful beaches are strung like jewels between Royal National Park and Wollongong and Port Kembla; many have their own rail stop.

Sacred Sites

Virgin forest and serene shores have inspired the founding of various spiritual sites in Wollongong's surrounds. Thirty kilometres north of the city stands an extravagantly ornate Hindu temple. Sri Venkateswara Temple was built in 1985 according to ancient architectural principles that urged the construction of temples near forest and water, which this gorgeously leafy location near Stanwell Tops has in abundance. South of Wollongong, just off the Princes Motorway, rises the eight-tiered pagoda of Nan Tien, the largest Buddhist temple in Australia, belonging to the Taiwanese Fo Guang Shan order. Dress modestly to enter prayer halls wall-to-wall with images of the Buddha, tour the manicured grounds or perhaps book a meditation class (from $40, but sometimes free).