Before European settlement in the Illawarra, the region was home to the local Aboriginal people. The name Wollongong originated from the Aboriginal word woolyungah meaning five islands. Archaeological evidence indicates that Aboriginals have lived here for at least 30,000 years. Wodi Wodi is the tribe name of the Aboriginal people of the Illawarra.
Dr Charles Throsby first established a settlement here in 1815, bringing down his cattle from the Southern Highlands to a lagoon of fresh water located near South Beach.
The earliest reference to Wollongong was in 1826, in a report written by John Oxley, about the local cedar industry. The area's first school was established in 1833, and just one year later the Surveyor-General arrived from Sydney to lay out the township of Wollongong on property owned by Charles Throsby-Smith.
Our local steel industry commenced in 1927 with Charles Hoskins entering into an agreement with the state government to build a steelworks at Port Kembla, thereby commencing a long history of steel production that still continues to this day.
For a full history visit the Wollongong City Council website.
wollongong museum trail
Wollongong is home to a diverse range of museums that highlight all aspects of the region's history.
They're all open on the second Sunday of the month* so why not hit the road to find out more about our social, industrial and environmental heritage.
Download your copy of the Wollongong Museum Trail flyer to learn about the museum's you can explore on these Sundays and their individual opening times and entry rates.
*Check individual opening times
wollongong city centre heritage trail
Immerse yourself in Wollongong's rich history with the self-guided Wollongong City Centre Heritage Trail Map. Market Square, Wollongong Town Hall and the site of Throsby's Stockman's Hut are all must-see stops on the trail which takes approximately two hours to explore.
The Heritage Trail features 23 locations across the city, including some of the most significant and historic landmarks post-European settlement. This is a must-see for locals and visitors alike that have an interest in history and heritage.
Get started by collecting your copy of the map from the iHub on 93 Crown Street or from the Southern Gateway Centre on Bulli Tops.
Alternatively you can download your copy of the map from the Wollongong City Council website.
Illawarra heritage trail
Wollongong Harbour is situated 80km south of Sydney on the Australian east coast. It is the only point on the east coast to have 2 lighthouses, the other being Wollongong Headland Lighthouse.
With the expansion out of Sydney in the early 1800's, Wollongong Harbour was developed to serve the new township of Wollongong and the Illawarra region. In the 1860's work on the harbour included the construction of a basin and breakwater. At this time "... at the end of the pier a red light was fixed to guide boats into the harbour."
In 1869 tenders were invited for the construction of lighthouses at Wollongong and Ulladulla. Manufactured in England, shipped to Australia and assembled, construction began in November 1870 and although completed in March 1871, it stood unfinished until the lantern arrived from England in June 1871. More delays occurred until finally it was brought into permanent use on 1st March 1872. The lantern was manufactured by Chance & Co Birmingham England and was described in 1873 as being "... a fixed Dioptric system of the 4th Order with a fixed red light." The original apparatus was dismantled around 1970, as it was proposed to use this at Eden. The light was permanently extinguished in 1974.
In 2000 the light was fully restored.
the bathers pavilion
Looking for one of the best spots in town? The Bathers Pavilion location on North Beach is one of our top picks. Boasting a rich history, the Pavilion was originally built to accommodate 2,000 people as a place to dress before and after ocean bathing. The Pavilion was opened on 12 November 1938 in front of several hundred spectators by the Minister for Works and Local Government, E.S. Spooner.
In September 2012, Wollongong City Council completed major works on a complex renovation of the much-loved building and its surrounds.
Today it still serves the original purpose for which it was intended with the addition of a cafe and new pedestrian promenade.
The Northbeach Pavilion Cafe Restaurant and Takeaway Bar is located inside the structure and is the perfect place to grab a bite to eat (and even indulge in their amazing Nutella Calzoncino) with friends.
Do you love learning about the heritage of the Illawarra Region? The website, Lost Wollongong showcases the Illawarra's history, heritage organisations & events.
There are over ten thousand members ('Losties') for you to connect with. It is where everyone who loves the Illawarra can hangout and discuss everything including local history, memories, community events, news and anything else to do with our beautiful region. Explore here.