Neighbourhood Guide: Wollongong

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There was a time when Wollongong’s chief drawcard was its proximity to big sister Sydney. But it’s safe to say those days are long gone, as the city’s fine dining and small bar culture, coupled with its beautiful beaches and bike tracks, make it a superb destination in its own right.

Wollongong has always possessed more than its fair share of natural beauty: the difference now is the plethora of ways to enjoy it. For the more traditionally minded, a swim in the ocean and a bike ride along the coast is hard to beat. Of the two main beaches, North Beach is the more swimmer friendly while wilder City Beach, on the other side of Flagstaff Point, makes for great wave watching and sandy strolls.

The waterfront cycleway runs between Port Kembla, just south of Wollongong, to Thirroul, around 18 kilometres north. We suggest going north: Thirroul itself is a gorgeous town with lots to entertain and the ride up there is beautiful, with ample opportunities for coffee and food stops along the way. Hire a bike from Wollongong Bike Hire and pedal away to your heart’s content.

For those seeking a more adrenalin-packed method of enjoying the scenery, Just Cruisin’ offers a Born To Be Wild tour, which includes a tandem skydive with fantastic views of Wollongong harbour, a ride in the sidecar of a Harley Davidson or on a trike, and a drink at Illawarra Brewery. Guaranteed, it will be a day to remember.  

When it comes to eating and drinking, Wollongong is spoilt for choice. For casual daytime fare, Lee & Me gets our vote. Operating out of a charming 1980s terrace house, its menu ranges from healthy to decadent, with the zucchini, haloumi and chickpea fritters in the former category and the house-made waffle with chocolate, mascarpone, fig and honeycomb firmly in the latter. Both are delicious and will no doubt tousle for top place depending on your mood.

Lili.J is another charming café, doubling as a plant nursery with a pet-friendly courtyard and a sunroom furnished with vintage finds. Seasonal ingredients and European flavours dominate the menu at the lovely K.Malu, located where the award-winning Caveau restaurant used to be.

It’s location, location, location for Diggies at North Beach. Perched overlooking the beach, this stunning venue has an enticing menu and cocktail list. The fish tacos with chipotle, southern fried chicken, and fantastic fish pie are all winning options but even the basics are impeccably done.

The small bar culture is alive and well in Wollongong and possibly best encapsulated by the Howlin’ Wolf Bar on Crown Street. Located in the heart of the city’s arts precinct, this underground Blues venue has a moody cocktail list to match, making it the perfect spot to disappear to for a pre- or post-dinner drink. It’s a whisky lover’s dream with more than 260 whisky options from around the globe, as well as an extensive selection of gin, rum and craft beer.

The Throsby is another intimate space but the focus here is well and truly on wine, with a list boasting a huge number of labels from boutique producers around the world. If beer is more your taste, there’s nowhere better to enjoy a pint than The Illawarra Brewery which offers a true taste of Wollongong in its range of locally brewed craft beers.

And, when the sightseeing is done, retire to your home away from home at Adina Apartment Hotel Wollongong... where there's space to stretch out, a kitchen to cook in and all the amenities you know and love from an Adina.

** Peace of mind when you stay with us: Introducing Clean Touch. Note some activities listed may be subject to Covid restrictions.**

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