Wollongong is a seaside city in the Illawarra region of NSW. It lies on the narrow coastal strip between the Illawarra Escarpment and the Pacific Ocean, 82km south of Sydney.
With a population of almost 290,000 Wollongong is the 3rd largest city in NSW after Sydney and Newcastle, and the 9th largest in Australia. The metropolitan area extends from Helensburgh in the north to Gerroa in the south, and is administered by Wollongong, Shellharbour and Kiama councils.
Wollongong has a long history of mining and industry. Major sources of employment include education, steel and food service.
The city also attracts numerous tourists each year and is a regional centre for the South Coast fishing industry. Wollongong has numerous surfing beaches, scenic lookouts and botanic gardens. It has two regional cathedrals, churches of many denominations and the Nan Tien Temple, one of the largest Buddhist temples in the southern hemisphere.
The CBD is a major commercial hub containing many department stores and specialty shops, offices, restaurants and entertainment venues. Surrounding the CBD is a mixture of parks, reserves, light commercial property, houses and multi-story residential units. Multi-story housing is evident particularly on Smith’s Hill north-east of the CBD, reflecting the popularity inner-city living and a beachside lifestyle.
Wollongong has a distinctly multicultural population and the university continues to attract students and staff from all over the world, with about 5000 overseas enrolments. The University of Wollongong has about 22,000 students and is internationally recognised. The city has several primary and high schools, including public, denominational and independent. Specialist high schools include the selective Smith's Hill High School, Illawarra Sports High School, and Wollongong High School of the Performing Arts.
About 20,000 people commute daily to Sydney by road and rail, making it one of the busiest commuter corridors in Australia. Wollongong is served by the South Coast railway line. Passenger rail services connect the centres of Nowra and Kiama to the south and Sydney to the north. A branch line connects suburbs between the CBD and Port Kembla. A passenger rail service connecting Wollongong to the Southern Highlands has been replaced with a coach service.
Wollongong railway station serves as the network's hub, with bus services connecting Wollongong suburbs to Shellharbour, Lake Illawarra and the Royal National Park.
Despite its industrial heritage, Wollongong maintains an active arts scene and is home to the Wollongong Conservatorium of Music, Wollongong Symphony Orchestra, BlueScope Steel Youth Orchestra, a jazz club and various groups and ensembles.