The weekend is coming and you feel like a getaway trip far from the city and its crowds? I have a perfect destination to recommend to you.
Wollongong is located 81km south of Sydney in the Illawarra region of NSW. It is known for its coalmining and fishing industries but the most importantly, it’s a beautiful seaside destination, only 1.5 hours by train from Sydney’s Central Station. The trains depart every hour.
What should you visit?
Nan Tien Temple – the largest Buddhist temple in the southern hemisphere
This temple is called a ‘Southern Paradise’. Catch the number 34 bus near the Westfield Shopping Centre in Wollongong, it takes around 15min to reach the Temple. Once you walk through the gate, you’ll instantly become immersed in the Nan Tien vibes. Apart from being an important Temple for Buddhism followers, it’s also an interesting cultural experience, that will help you unwind from your busy everyday life and focus on spiritual renewal. Take your time when wandering through the picturesque gardens, take a close look at the Buddha statues and make sure to enter the temple (remember to cover your legs and shoulders; otherwise you won’t be permitted to take a look inside). Nan Tien Temple offers accommodation too, if you want to enhance your spiritual and religious experience.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday & Public Holidays – 9am to 5pm, closed on Mondays
Wollongong City Beach and North Wollongong Beach
Wollongong is known for its long and wide beaches, with gorgeous ocean views and warm sand. The good part is that they’re not as crowded as Sydney beaches and the atmosphere is more relaxing. Take a 20 minute stroll from the Wollongong city centre to enjoy the soft sand under your feet.
Next to the beach there are designated picnic areas and the Blue Mile training track for runners and cyclists.
Wollongong is the ultimate surfers’ paradise, with more than 15 patrolled beaches. There are also great rock pools along the coastline in: Coalcliff, Wombarra, Coledale, Austinmer, Bulli, Woonona, Bellambi, Towradgi and North Wollongong. Enjoy your relaxing swim and stay safe as these pools aren’t patrolled by lifeguards.
Discover more of the white sand serenity when travelling along the Coast:
Stanwell Park Beach – 26km north of Wollongong, surrounded by bushland
Coledale Beach – Thirroul : 18km north of Wollongong
Thirroul Beach – just 2 km from Thirroul, the beach is 1km long
Bulli Beach – 11km north of Wollongong, there is a large parkland area perfect for family picnics
Wollongong Head Lighthouse
The Wollongong City Beach and North Wollongong beach are separated from each other by this still active lighthouse. It stands on the top of Flagstaff Point and is accompanied by breathtaking views of the coastline. This is a popular tourist lookout point. On the day I was there, I walked into a wedding that was taking place in this marvelous location.
The Lighthouse was built by the Department of Shipping and Transport, being the first new lighthouse built in New South Wales since 1903.
In close proximity to the Head Lighthouse, you’ll see the Breakwater Lighthouse which is smaller and no longer in use, but with great historic value.
A tip for foodies: Have your lunch at the Illawarra Brewery, accompanied by ocean views, live music and great ciders. Get your dessert at Aqua Restaurant and make sure to try their house made ice cream. Both restaurants are located near the Wollongong City Beach.