WollongongWollongong is a city in the Illawarra region of New South Wales. Heading south, Wollongong starts where Sydney finishes. It is the third largest city in the state behind Sydney and Newcastle and is thinly wedged on a coastal plain between an escarpment and the Pacific Ocean. It is pronounced Wool-un-gong.
Geography defines Wollongong, as the city is never more than roughly six kilometers at its widest but stretches over forty kilometers from South to North. Its growth was limited by mountains, which are not so much high as steep, and the sea, Wollongong has grown to include a whole chain of coastal towns, from Dapto and Port Kembla in the south to Bulli, Austinmer, and even up to Stanwell Park in the north. Continuous development has recently stretched the urban area along the coast as far as Kiama in the distant south but those areas are serviced by the growing centre of Shellharbour.
Its modern origins are in coal mining and steel production, industries which persist, notably the BlueScope steel facility at Port Kembla to the south. A dedicated port exists for the transport of materials whereas private craft and fishing boats use a separate facility nearer the city centre in Belmore Basin. New industries, such as financial services, information technology, tourism and education are fast becoming trademarks of the city. Wollongong people are proud of the employment and heavy industry in the area, and choose to be more than just an outer commuter suburb for Sydney.
The University of Wollongong is popular with local, other Australian and international students. Due to post war migration involving heavy industry, Wollongong also includes a large Mediterranean, Indian and Asian population which has left its mark on the city and means there is a great range of food and entertainment options.
There are many interesting and beautiful locations within easy reach. The immediate area possesses some fine, often uncrowded beaches and reasonable surfing.
The very northern suburb of Helensburgh is covered in its own article. In many ways it has closer ties to southern Sydney than to Wollongong.
If you have a little longer, you can take a route via the Bulli Pass and the Wollongong Northern Beaches. At the end of the freeway the Bulli Pass road throws itself straight down the escarpment and along the coast. The exit is well signposted after the end of the freeway. Add 10 minutes for this diversion.
If you have a little longer still, a very scenic way to see more of Wollongong, the escarpment and the cliffs, is to take the Grand Pacific Drive. Exit from the freeway at Helensburgh through Stanwell Park and down the coast. The road is well signposted to Wollongong. The Sea Cliff Bridge is a highlight of this trip, between Coalcliff and Scarborough.
From the south of Wollongong, follow the Princes Highway north.
From Canberra or Melbourne, you can access Wollongong via the Illawarra Highway or via Picton Road. Picton Road offers a faster, straighter trip, while the Illawarra Highway offers scenery with windy roads and the occasional waterfall and picnic areas. To go the quick, Picton Road route, ignore the first exit sign to Wollongong from the Hume Highway at Moss Vale, and take the second, where the exit is also signposted to Picton.
The train services from Sydney to Wollongong are operated by NSW TrainLink, and have a usual weekday frequency of 15-30 minutes and 60 minutes on weekends. Each four-car train has two quiet carriages for those who want peace and quiet during their journey, and one easy access toilet on board. They trains can get pretty crowded during the morning and evening peaks heading towards and away from Sydney respectively (especially if there are only four carriages), but you should usually get a seat. In the weekday evening peak these trains fill to standing room only until you pass Sutherland, as well as on Sunday afternoons heading back into Sydney. Similarly to all trains in the region, you can't book a seat, but rather pay with a reloadable Opal Card, a single trip Opal ticket, or a contactless credit card at the Opal gates.
The train journey is a scenic, albeit a slow one, traversing the Royal National Park with views of the ocean and forest. Sit on the left-hand side and upstairs (looking in the direction of travel) when travelling from Sydney or the right hand side travelling to Sydney to get the best views. The trip takes around 90 minutes.
Wollongong is primarily serviced by scheduled international and domestic airline flights operating into Sydney Airport (SYD) to the north of the city. Connecting links to Sydney are provided by rail and road.
To get to Wollongong by car from Sydney Airport drive 60 minutes south along the A1 Princes Hwy and M1 Southern Freeway. Follow the signs from the airport towards Wollongong and Rockdale to get to the Princes Highway, and from there follow the road and directional signage south to Wollongong.
To get to Wollongong by train from Sydney Airport, catch an airport train one or two stops to Wolli Creek, and then change for a train to Wollongong. All trains to Wollongong stop at Wolli Creek.
Private bus companies operate shuttle services from the airport to any destination door to door in the Illawarra/Wollongong region.
phone: +61 2 4261 7393Call or book on-line.
There is an airport (Illawarra Regional/Wollongong) located south of Wollongong in Shellharbour which mostly caters to general aviation flights, though it also has domestic flights as well.
Illawarra Regional AirportIt is the site of the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society museum and workshop facilities associated with that society are located at the airport. Fly Corporate operates flights to Melbourne's Essendon Airport and Brisbane using Saab 340B Plus aircraft.
phone: +61 419 017 172 (mobile)Call 24/7 or email
By busIf you're coming from south-western Sydney, you can catch the 887 bus from Campbelltown to Wollongong train stations, via Appin and the University of Wollongong. These buses operate with intervals from every half an hour to every hour and a half.
By boatA couple of Royal Caribbean cruise ships a year visit Wollongong, docking at Port Kembla.
Wollongong bus services form part of the Greater Sydney public transport network. You can either use the Opal card when boarding the bus, or alternatively purchase a ticket from the driver (though this takes longer than using an Opal card). Most bus routes have a service every hour or every 30 minutes.
Dions Bus ServiceOperates bus services in the northern suburbs of Wollongong, going as far as Austinmer.
Premier CoachesOperates bus services between Wollongong and Stanwell Park, as well as between Helensburgh and Stanwell Tops.
Premier IllawarraOperates buses from the suburb of Bellambi (north of Wollongong), to as far south as Kiama.
The free Gong Shuttle Bus operates between the University of Wollongong and the City Centre, via Wollongong Station, the Hospital, Burelli St and the UOW's Innovation Campus. On weekends they also stop at North Wollongong station. They run every 10 minutes peak from 7AM-6PM, and every 20 minutes off-peak from 6PM-10PM weekdays, and weekends from 8AM-6PM. These are usually operated by distinctive bright green buses, though the regular blue and white buses are occasionally used. Look out for route numbers 55A and 55C.
Take note that the free buses only stop at bus stops marked by the green Gong Shuttle Bus signboard at the top; they won't stop at ordinary bus stops even if you flagged them down!
There are also the navy blue North Gong (NG) and Gwynneville Keiraville (GK) shuttle buses, operated by the UOW, which are free to ride as well.
The northern coastal suburbs of Wollongong are well serviced by train, however depending on the station, you can still be a kilometre or so from the beach. Stanwell Park, Austinmer, Coledale, Wombarra and Bulli are the best stations to access nearby beaches, with Austinmer the most popular. All stations see hourly services.
A car will take you everywhere in the region you want to go. Parking in the multi-story carparks in the Wollongong CBD is less than $2/hr, up to a maximum of $15. Parking along the Wollongong beaches and foreshore is free. Parking on Sundays is free.
Car hire is also available in Wollongong. Avis, Europcar and Hertz are located in Flinders St, just north of the city centre.
An extensive cycle track runs from Wollongong north for 10 km to Thirroul, hugging the scenic beaches, or the same distance south south to Windang and Lake Illawarra. This is generally uncrowded and a great way to get a feel for the city and surrounds. Within in the city itself, cycling is a bit more challenging thanks to the numerous inclines. Cycling is not allowed in Crown St Mall, although people can be seen on pedalling through the mall regardless.
A good cycle route could take 60 km mostly off-road from Bulli to Kiama, hugging the coast and headlands the whole way, and passing close to all Wollongong has to offer. You can put your bike on the train for the trip back.
You can hire bikes at Thirroul to ride south:
Steel City Cyclephone: +61 2 4267 1747address: 365 Lawrence Hargrave Drive, Thirroul
or in downtown Wollongong:
Wollongong Bike Hirephone: +61 2 4228 7366address: 337 Keira St
The Illawarra Taxi Network (formerly Radio Cabs of Wollongong) serves Wollongong and the surrounding suburbs. The main taxi rank is on Church St next to the Greater Union cinemas. You can also find taxi ranks outside shopping centres in the Illawarra such as in Corrimal, Warrawong, Figtree, and Shellharbour.
Wollongong is a pretty walkable city - you can walk from the train station to the Wollongong CBD, and all the way to Wollongong City Beach. Just avoid walking in the middle of the day, especially during summer.
Swimming and surfing
During the summer months, Wollongong has 17 surf beaches to choose from, each with less crowds and more space than most Sydney beaches. All have free foreshore parking, and most are accessible by public transport and bicycle.
To the north of the city try...
North BeachOne of the most popular beaches, in front of Stuart Park and the Novotel. There is a kiosk right on the beach as well as other takeaway and restaurant options nearby. You can find a shady spot under the trees in the park, just a few steps from the sand.
City (South) BeachRight at the end of Crown St, by WIN Entertainment Centre. Not as popular as North Beach, perhaps because the views to the south take in the steelworks and dunes rather than parks and headlands. Still, it is nice sand and a place to cool off only minutes walk from the city centre.
AustinmerA very pleasant cove and small beach. Cafes and restaurants across the road, park and barbecues behind, some would say the ultimate beach, sometimes suffers from its popularity. Go early or late on a sunny day.
TowradgiA beach you are sure to get your own stretch of sand.
To the south of the city try..
Port KemblaMaybe the Gong's most underrated beach. Possibly associated with the steelworks and the town, but the beach is over the headland, very pretty, and possibly the longest stretch of sand on the Wollongong coastline. Has parking, is on the coastal cycle track, and is about 2km from Port Kembla station.
WindangHas the caravan park, and a feel more like a south coast beach. Just near the entrance to Lake Illawarra, there are also nearby parks and bicycle rides near the lake.
If you just want to do some laps, or for the kids to splash in the water, try the lap and leisure pools at Beaton Park, on Foley St (off Gipps Rd).
The escarpment next to Wollongong provides spectacular views over the coastline and city.
Bulli PassSpectacular views over Wollongong and up and down the coast are available from the lookouts at the top of the Bulli Pass. Barbecues, picnic tables and kiosks are available at the lookouts. There are actually three lookout locations here, including Bulli Lookout and Sublime Point. Sublime Point is probably the most famous, and best for a picnic or the view. Bulli Lookout has a restaurant/cafe on the top of the cliff.
Mount Keira LookoutMore spectacular views from the top, as well as some walks and views of the hang-gliders launching. Cafe at the top, serving Devonshire Teas. Worth a visit at night to see the lights of the town.
Mount Kembla Lookout
phone: +61 2 4286 5000address: 60 Squires Way, North WollongongTwo-storey museum with lots of stuff to do for kids aged 1 to 15 (and their parents, of course). Don't miss the 3PM Planetarium show.
- The HARS Aircraft museum is actually located to the south of Wollongong in Albion Park.
Landmarks and Attractions
phone: +61 2 4272 0600address: Berkeley Rd, BerkeleyOpened in October 1995 it is a branch temple of Fo Guang Shan and the biggest Buddhist temple in the Southern Hemisphere. "Nan Tien" in Chinese means "Paradise of the South". It has received awards for its beautiful lighting, gardens and architecture.
St Francis Xavier Cathedraladdress: 36 Harbour St, WollongongThis is the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wollongong. A wooden chapel was built in 1836, and a larger, more permanent church was constructed three years later. St Francis Xavier was designated as the Cathedral for the new Diocese of Wollongong in 1951, with the diocese officially being established on 11 February 1952.
phone: +61 2 4220 2800address: Corner of Crown and Harbour StreetsThe Sports stadium hosts rugby league (St.George Illawarra), rugby union, and soccer and has a capacity of 18,500 (11,000 seated). The Entertainment Centre is situated to the north of the stadium and hosts a variety of sports and special events.
Australia's Industry World - Port Kembla Steelworksphone: +61 2 4275 7023address: Visitor Centre at the BlueScope Steel Northgate Entrance, Springhill Rd Coniston. The entrance is marked with extremely large Australian and BlueScope Steel flagsThe Port Kembla Steelworks is located 80 km south of Sydney in the heart of Port Kembla, an industrial suburb in the Greater City of Wollongong, A fully integrated plant with steelmaking capacity of 5 million tonnes a year, the Steelworks is situated on an area of 800 hectares and directly employs up to 6,000 people. The Steelworks is one of the world's most technically advanced producers of high quality slab, plate and strip products. It has become arguably one of Australia's most valuable industries, competing for overseas markets and providing valuable export dollars for the Australian economy. A drive through the area at night can be interesting, with the flames more visible. You can even sometimes see the glow of the hot steel.
Gardens and Parks
address: Murphys Ave, KeiravilleA usually uncrowded open space, with duck ponds and short walks. Bring some bread for the ducks, and a picnic.
phone: +61 2 4236 0469Visitors centre and boardwalks through subtropical rainforest. Go early in the morning for the best chance at seeing wildlife such as lyre birds and wombats.
Walk and pedal
CycleThere are designated cycle routes all across the Wollongong Region. If you want coastal scenery, cycle north from Wollongong towards Bulli, all off road and long stretches through parks. If you want to see Wollongong industry close up, cycle south to Port Kembla, passing the steelworks along the way.
Mount Kiera Ring Trackaddress: 5 km loopA very popular 5 km walk around Mount Keira. Eucalypt and rain forest scenery. However, beware of leeches if there is the slightest bit of rain.
Mountain BikeThere are rides for all levels of fitness and technical abilities on or around the escarpment. Rides include fire trails, single track and lightly used roads which provide a good workout for all ages.
Big trains and little trains
Cockatoo RunThe Cockatoo Run is a vintage train that climbs through the Morton National Park Rainforest to Robertson and Moss Vale. The services run irregularly, and the best place to check for timings in on the Facebook page of the operator.
Illawarra Live SteamersModel train rides are offered to the public on the 4th Sunday of every month down at Stuart Park. Fun for all the family just remember to wear enclosed shoes and no drinking on trains
Shellharbour Scuba CentreA PADI 5 Star centre about three minutes drive from Bass point offering all facilities including boat dives, nitrox and courses. Some of the best temperate water diving to be encountered anywhere can be found in Wollongong and areas to the south. Bass Point should be your stopping off point as it offers at least a dozen dives suitable to all standards of diver.
Sky-DivingWollongong's stunning scenery look even more stunning when seen from above. If the mountain lookouts aren't exciting enough for you, the option to skydive is yours. A number of companies operate out of Illawarra Regional Airport, one of these being the Bushsports group.
address: Main campus-Northfields Avenue, GwynnevilleThe campus is one of the most attractive in Australia, nestled below a subtropical rainforest overlooking the Pacific Ocean at the base of Mount Keira Streams and ponds run throughout the area. Cars are kept to the perimeter of the campus. It is worth a visit purely as an attraction of the city. The university punches above its weight in academic achievement and accolades as far as regional universities go.
phone: +61 2 4228 5999address: 200 Crown StThe largest shopping centre in the Illawarra, Wollongong Central incorporates what used to be known as Crown Central and Crown Gateway malls. Its architecture is a reflection the region - the steelworks, the escarpment, and the ocean.
Crown Street MallA pedestrian mall on Crown St, with the main department stores, cafes and specialty stores lining both sides. At the centre is a small stage, where local talent (schools and dance groups) often perform on weekends. Every Thursday from 5PM-9PM there is an evening market called Eat Street, which has numerous stalls serving a variety of local food.
address: Cnr King & Cowper St, WarrawongThe usual obligatory and formulaic chain stores, food halls, and supermarket shopping, with cinemas and shopping strips in most of the northern beachside suburbs along the Princes Highway.
phone: +61 2 42831133address: 270 Princes Highway, Corrimal
Everything about Wollongong's eateries is excellent. Most restaurants are located on either Keira St or Corrimal St, but don't be afraid to venture down a laneway, or further North or South to outer suburbs, to find great food. There is something for everyone.
Coconut Thai(also located on Keira St), Variety of excellent Thai dishes. Meals range from $10-20 per person. Recommended for vegetarians and vegans, as they offer a lot of excellent non-meat dishes, as well as a wide array of beef, chicken and seafood orientated meals.
Ahmed'sA kebab shop run by a sometimes-professor for the University of Wollongong, named, surprisingly, Ahmed. Always open late, recommended is the regular chicken, extra extra extra hot.
Food WorldChinese and Vietnamese food, big meals and dirt cheap. Mains $8-$10. Great atmosphere. Don't be put off by some of the ugliest decor ever allowed to grace a restaurant, they have some of the most satisfying Chinese food for prices that don't ever seem to be affected by inflation. Highly recommended if you want a quick, cheap and filling meal, try the Chicken and Rice.
Amigo's Mexican RestaurantA casual Mexican place which serves huge tasty Mexican meals. Recommended are the Lunchtime Special (meal and drink for $8.50) and $3 tacos (Tuesday nights, 5:30PM - 9:30PM), which is very popular with students.
phone: +61 2 4283 8830address: 12 Daisy St, Fairy MeadowJapanese and Chinese restaurant. Chefs cook the food at the BBQ in front of (and sometimes behind) your eyes. A delight to the senses at budget prices.
MylanThere are a number of Vietnamese restaurants around (Mylan, Twins, Ha Long Bay etc) Mylan is by far the best and is always busy. Book ahead if you can.
FU'sChinese food provided in large servings. It is also a great place to go with a group because they do meal deals.
address: Market StJapanese styled restaurant. Choose from the sashimi (raw fish) to delicious Japanese salad and schnitzel with special sauce. If you want to indulge in a more cultural experience you can also sit in the Japanese style room where you sit on cushions. The lunchtime special is also great for those on a budget as they continue the Japanese tradition of offering cheaper prices for the dinner meals.
phone: +61 2 4225 2563address: 82 Church StNice atmosphere, but on weekends reservations are highly suggested. Food gets served within 10-15 minutes.
Marco'saddress: Corrimal StOffers a range of dishes concentrating on Italian cuisine. Portions at Marco’s will challenge even the most avid eaters.
Hideaway CafeDelicious food and down to earth staff. On Thursday and Saturday entertainment is provided by local artists.
Jasmine Riceaddress: Corrimal StThai food with traditional seating on cushions in one room or tables and chairs in another. The food is consistently good, although dearer than some of the other Thai restaurants.
Thai CarnationPopular Thai restaurant. Duck curry is served with lots of fresh vegetables and some fresh grapes, the duck is succulent and tender while the broth is mild but tasty.
address: Keira StLorenzo Pagnan was the owner of the first restaurant in Wollongong to receive a single hat from the Sydney Morning Herald's Good Food Guide. Modern and some traditional Mediterranean cuisine in very slick modern surrounds.
address: 122-124 Keira StOpened mid 2005, the creation of former Banc (Sydney) sous chef Peter Sheppard. Caveau serves French meals, with prices set at either $55 for two courses or $77 for three. The second Wollongong restaurant to receive a hat from the Good Food Guide and as such a friendly rivalry has developed between Lorenzo's and Caveau - one that has seen the North Keira street area develop into an important restaurant district for the City.
A growing city, Wollongong city holds a wide variety of bars. Generally, pubs close to the city but not in the actual CBD/North Wollongong proper tend to have unsavoury reputations. Wednesday nights are 'uni nights', and at places such as Castros and the Grand feature drink specials and cheap or free entry - expect a lot of young patrons.
The North Wollongong PubThe "local" for the University of Wollongong, across the Princes Hwy from the North Wollongong train station. Major renovations in 2006 provided several bars, including a spacious outdoor garden, a bistro and bar inside, and a more formal (and dress-coded so you can't just wear your thongs/flip-flops) upstairs cocktail lounge. Although frequented by UOW students, North Gong remains popular with all ages.
Hotel IllawarraLarge hotel/pub recently refurbished in wood and chrome. It receives the early morning crowd as it is the only bar that consistently closes at 3AM most nights of the week. Somewhat upper-class. Dress in smart casual.
The Grand HotelA three part hotel. One features a number of 'pokies', pool tables, a bar, game machines and a lounge area. The second is a large outdoor beer garden and smoking area, while the third is a proper nightclub, complete with DJ booth and impressively sized dance floor and two separate bars. Hosts local and international acts on occasion.
GlasshouseA tavern and nightclub which has recently re-opened, having been redeveloped- but still smelling distinctly of it's trademark vomit and sawdust. It is reasonably popular, with an entry fee charged for the upstairs nightclub. Often somewhat violent, coupled with incompetent security staff can make for an unpleasant night out if you don't keep your wits about you.
Castro'sNightclub tucked into Victoria St. A 'three mode' nightclub. Wednesday is Uni Night, with varying crowd sizes and cheap drink specials, as well as free entry before midnight. 2AM lockout, 3AM close. Fridays are often used for "Sensations", an U18 party session, while Saturday is Gay Night with a popular drag queen show.
Harp Hoteladdress: Corrimal StA 'working class' pub with two bars (And a third that is only open day times or during special events, such as Australia day, for punters) featuring pokies, karaoke on Saturday nights, some live music Thursday evenings and a crowd of locals the rest of the time. The 'new bar' features a night club and a window onto the smoking section and the old bar is an area with a stage and a number of seating options.
Abbey's NightclubCatering to the overflow from the Harp Hotel. A pleasant nightclub, filled with young people, typically. Trying to enter for free via the back balcony is often a quick way for the security staff to indulge in their penchant for brutal beatings, given the camera footage on the stairs is minimal and often turned off by remote control.
phone: +61 2 4220 2854Brew their own beer and the Sixth Island bar serves bar food and has a fantastic terrace with a BBQ. There is also an 80 seat restaurant. Sit and drink watching the surf roll in from the Pacific Ocean just 50 m away. Or don't. Quite nice to take the (older) kids on a Sunday afternoon, with the park in front and the beach close.
CBD Sports Baraddress: Auburn StVery relaxed atmosphere that translates into very high drink prices. Only 'non-leagues club' bar in the city that serves Resches Draught, a traditional Sydney beer that used to be far more common.
Dicey Riley'sAn Irish hotel that is conveniently located near Wollongong Train Station. Once known for being 'dicey', it is now one of the only venues in Wollongong to have live music on Friday and Saturday nights. With a new bistro, The Red Fox, it is the place to be. Especially on St Patrick's Day.
Fever NightclubOpens at 9PM yet is the only bar in town open past 3AM. Fever closes at 6AM weekend evenings, so if you want to make the most of a night out, it is the place to be! The club is smaller than some of the other venues in town, but makes up for it in atmosphere. The bar staff are entertaining, drink prices low and the music always lures you to the light-up dancefloor.
address: 61 Church StMainly older laid back crowd but The Builders is also very popular with students taking advantage of cheap drinks and $2 pool. The Builders is fantastic for a few early drinks and then maybe kicking on to the nightclubs later. Worth visiting to see the huge mural painted on the front wall. Thursday night and Friday day poker games.
The IvoryA bar catering for the older crowd. Smart casual, 25 years or over for entry.
Downtown BarA bar catering for business people. It is very expensive, upwards of 15 dollars for a schooner of beer in some cases.
phone: +61 2 4271 1122A basic motel close the city centre. Good for an overnight stay, or if you are not spending too much time around the hotel.
phone: +61 2 4222 3111address: 151-161 Corrimal StPart of Wollongong Golf Club and close to the CBD, WIN Stadium, WIN Entertainment Centre, and local beaches.
phone: +61 2 4223 6000address: Cnr Market & Church StIn the city's main entertainment and business precinct.
phone: +61 2 4224 3111address: 2-14 Cliff Road, North WollongongBeach views, a day spa and is just 5 minutes from the Wollongong CBD and retail precinct.
address: 60-62 Harbour StUltra-modern hotel adjacent to WIN Sports and Entertainment Centre. A short walk to the beach, restaurants, shopping and entertainment.
Most of Wollongong has good mobile phone and data reception with all three carriers. You can easily get download speeds of at least 30Mbps in the CBD. However in the northern suburbs like Fairy Meadow and Corrimal, the Vodafone and Optus reception are quite poor (more so if you're not close to Princes Highway). If you'd be spending most of your time away from the downtown area, it's best to have either a Telstra SIM card or one of their MVNOs like Boost Mobile.
There are a few coffee shops and McDonalds that offer free WiFi. Wollongong Library has free internet access at all libraries, and free WiFi at the City Library (ask staff for a ticket with username/password). The city library is in the council building on Burelli St, which runs parallel to and one street south of Crown St.
There are some cases of drink-spiking so never leave your drink unattended. If you believe your drink has been spiked, speak to the security staff immediately. They will determine whether you have been spiked or not, and if so will call an ambulance for you to ensure your safety. Alcohol-fueled violence is common in town at night, primarily in the Crown Street Mall and around takeaway food shops. Also beware of groups of young men in cars at South Beach at night and the Lagoon carpark. Do not wander around Unanderra and Dapto at night - both are unsafe, and sometimes during the day. Figtree can be nearly as bad, and Thursday nights in the Crown Street mall are often similar.
From Wollongong you can follow the coast southwards towards the Victorian border. This road is quite an interesting stretch of highway in Australia in that it follows the coast and headlands, giving you views as you drive along it. Many other coastal Australian highways usually stay a small distance from the coast, requiring side trips to see the scenery. At Batemans Bay you can turn inland to the Hume Highway via Braidwood to Canberra and Melbourne via the freeway.
The Illawarra Highway is a scenic route through the Southern Highlands to the Hume Highway. The road winds its way up through the Macquarie Pass, through Robertson and then on to the open road.
Royal National ParkTravel north to the Royal National Park and camp by the beach.
Kiama BlowholeTravel south by train or car to Kiama, and visit the blowhole. The wait is worth it.
Kangaroo ValleyKangaroo Valley is a peaceful location, inland of Nowra, and hour south of Wollongong
If you are staying in Wollongong, Sydney is a fairly comfortable day trip.