Page Sections: Local History | Suburb Profiles | Wollongong Maps
Wollongong Heritage Festival
From 12 April to 26 May 2014, we'll be celebrating our local history with the Wollongong Heritage Festival. Go to the Heritage Festival webpage for details of the program.
Located 80 kilometres south of Sydney, Wollongong covers 714 square kilometres and occupies a narrow coastal strip bordered by the Royal National Park to the north, Lake Illawarra to the south, the Pacific Ocean to the east, and the Illawarra escarpment to the west.
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. Operations began in 1930 with one blast furnace of 800 tons capacity. In 1936, BHP acquired Australian Iron and Steel Limited and production at Port Kembla increased rapidly. The steel industry was a catalyst for growth for many decades, and laid the foundations for the city's economy, lifestyle and culture.
Wollongong is proud of its industrial roots, and is still known and acknowledged as one of Australia's leading industrial centres. While steel and other manufacturing industries remain an essential part of the local economy, the city has long recognised the need to diversify its economic base. Construction of the spectacular Sea Cliff Bridge to the north has given even more focus to the burgeoning tourism industry, and information technology, hospitality, health services and telecommunications continue to grow as key industries of the region.
Wollongong enjoys a rich sense of community and cultural heritage, with people from more than 30 different language groups and 20 religious backgrounds living in harmony. A deep respect for others' traditions and regular celebrations of diverse customs add to the vibrant tapestry of community life and provide another dimension to our increasingly sophisticated city.
More information on local history on the Wollongong City Libraries website.
We have created profiles of Wollongong's suburbs that contain historical and factual information. Details of resources used in preparing these pages are available in the bibliography. The profiles also include links to other websites that contain useful information about the suburbs.
We are still working on a few suburb profiles. If you cannot find information for the suburb you are interested in please ring our Wollongong Central Library - Local Studies section on 4227 7418. Staff will be happy to help you find the information you need.
More information on suburb profiles on the Wollongong City Libraries website.
You'll also find information about our city's current and forecast population on our Demographic Information page.
Images of people, places and events dating back to the mid 1800s. The collection may include images or names of people now deceased.
We need your help
We’re looking for more information to add to our files for the Illawarra Images database.
If you have detail such as names of people places and events contained in the images, you can email from the link online, visit the Local Studies Library on level 1 of the Wollongong Central Library or call us on 4227 7418.
Images can be viewed online at home or at any branch libraries at the Wollongong City Libraries website.
Our online maps allow you to search for information about locations in the Wollongong Local Government Area (LGA) and view information held by Council about a specific location.