City Discovery: What’s There to do in Wollongong?

Located about 50 miles south of Sydney sits the seaside city of Wollongong, Australia‘s 10th largest city.

The name “Wollongong” is believed to mean “the sound of the sea” in the local Aboriginal language. Perhaps that is because there are over 17 beaches just in Wollongong!

Wollongong is the only city on the eastern coast of Australia to have two lighthouses, the Wollongong Head Lighthouse and the Wollongong Breakwater Lighthouse!

Don’t miss these Discovery Compass activities in Wollongong!


Intercultural experiences highlight exposure with the local culture, promoting a multilateral exchange of ideas, language and opinions.

Visit the Nan Tien Temple, the largest Buddhist Temple in the Southern Hemisphere. Located just south of the city, students can learn about Buddhist culture, take yoga classes and enjoy guided meditations.
Enjoy the city’s incredibly diverse cuisine. As a reflection of the diverse population of Wollongong, numerous ethnic restaurants and grocery stores offer foods from Persian and Vietnamese to Mexican and Thai.


ISA excursions and cultural activities highlight historical parts of the local culture to help students better understand their new environment.

Attend the Wollongong Heritage Festival. This annual festival held in April and May, highlights places of historical significance and events of importance throughout the Illawara, the coastal region of New South Wales in which Wollongong is situated.

Spend a day at the Royal National Park. Located less than an hour’s drive from Wollongong, this is the second oldest national park in the world and offers visitors everything from beaches to rain forest to explore!


Sociopolitical discovery highlights social and political activities or experiences.

Get involved in an on-campus club. The University of Wollongong is very student focused and wants to ensure all students feel heard and appreciated – because of this, students are encouraged to join one of the many political clubs on campus or be a part of the student government.

Take time to get immersed in political events. Being so close to Canberra and Sydney, students have the opportunity to immerse themselves in any significant political events and really understand how the Australian government works.


Professional experiences provide exposure to professional development opportunities during an ISA program.

A great way to gain exposure to the local culture and build professional experience in Wollongong is to volunteer. While there is no structured volunteer program, students are encouraged to work in conjunction with ISA on-site staff to identify local volunteer opportunities suited to their particular interests.


Environmental experiences expose students to different environmental aspects of the host country.

Take a hike up to the Mt. Keira Lookout. A major landmark of Wollongong, this lookout located less than 2 miles northwest of the city provides sweeping views of the entire region.

Take an afternoon to enjoy the Wollongong Botanical Gardens. Located right next to the University, the gardens feature various themed areas, including a rose garden, herb garden, woodland garden, azalea bank, succulent plants and several rainforest areas to give you a feel for the various climates of Australia.

It’s got a unique name and once you visit, you’ll come to understand that its name isn’t the only unique thing about this Australian city.

Learn more about Wollongong.


The 2015 City Discovery Series aims to showcase one of ISA’s program locations each week. Facts about each location and Discovery Compass activity examples are given, highlighting the areas of Intercultural, Historical, Sociopolitical, Professional and Environmental discovery. The Discovery Compass aims to help students have the best possible study abroad experience by helping them to gain a better understanding of the local environment, customs and people through a variety of experiences.

Author: International Studies Abroad (ISA)

Since 1987, International Studies Abroad (ISA) has provided college students in the United States and Canada the opportunity to explore the world. ISA offers a wide variety of study abroad programs at accredited schools and universities in 73 program locations throughout the world.

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