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Snapshots from Wollongong – Unanderra

U is for Unanderra

Let’s face it! Some parts of Wollongong are going to be more exciting than others, but it would appear that Unanderra is the spiritual centre of Wollongong.  According to Wikipedia, its only attractions are a Catholic Church, an Orthodox Syriac Church and the biggest Buddhist temple in the Southern Hemisphere – The Nan Tien Temple.

Apart from this, Unanderra has a railway station, a couple of primary schools, a small shopping centre and that’s about it. There is one pub and a large leagues club, Wests Illawarra. Wests is open 21 hours a day, every day of the year. You can’t tell me that place is not sucking people dry with its poker machines.

Artwork on the Unanderra Hotel.
Unanderra Hotel

Unanderra is near Lake Illawarra on one of the broadest, flattest parts of the Illawarra coastline. It is a mixed bag of residential dwellings and industrial properties. Many of the business located here are related to the steel and coal industries.

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Unanderra’s numbers.

 

Unanderra 4 Infographic

 

Nan Tien Temple

The Nan Tien Temple is set in magnificent gardens and is right on the border between the suburbs of Berkeley and Unanderra. The temple is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. The complex boasts a large conference centre,  100 rooms of accommodation and a popular vegetarian restaurant. More recently the Nan Tien Institute has opened and offers courses for postgraduate studies as well as professional learning in applied Buddhist studies, wellbeing and mental health.

You can stay at the temple for a 2 or 3-day weekend retreat or a week-long monastic stay. These retreats offer participants an opportunity to understand the tenets of Buddhism.

Some other random facts about Unanderra

The RSPCA shelter for Wollongong is in Unanderra, so if you are looking for a rescue pet that’s the place to go.

It is home to the Illawarra Hockey Stadium, and it would seem most of their local couriers have the offices there so if you miss a delivery you have to head there to pick it up!

On the down-low, I shop at the Woollies (Woolworths)  at Unanderra because I had read somewhere that it is the cheapest one in the Illawarra. I never knew that the prices varied between Woollies stores, but apparently, they do. It’s not my closest one, but it is a bigger store, and I know the layout!

 

My 200th Post

WOW! This is my 200th post. I chalked up the 100th post on January 1 2019.  So it’s been a busy year, and I am not quite at the end yet.

Although not as eventful as previous years, I have still been trying new things and keeping my mind active.

Including

  • Travelling to Scotland
  • Two courses with the Australian Radio Film and Television School; one on documentary making and the other on mobile video content creation.
  • A jewellery making course with a local Illawarra designer
  • Completing an online SEO course which will hopefully boost visits to this blog.

I have continued running and entered into 3 x 10km events.

I remain proud of the fact that I have posted at least once every week and recently twice a week with the introduction of my Photo Of the Week challenge.

Thank you to those who visit frequently and take the time to like and comment. It’s always nice to know there is someone out there. I think my 60 for 60 goal of 1000 followers is a pie in the sky, but you never know!

 

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Snapshots from Wollongong – Port Kembla

P is for Port Kembla

Port Kembla is the industrial heart of Wollongong. Home to a massive steelworks which dominates the horizon from many vantage points, it is often considered grubby, polluted and frankly, a place to avoid. The main street has a reputation for being a cruising zone for those seeking the services of prostitutes.

Port Kembla Harbour
Port Kembla from Mt Kembla

Cloud factories are continuously pumping out steam and presumably other chemicals, and there is an eternal flame burning off gases which lights up the night sky.

Wentworth Street, Port Kembla
Wentworth Street, Port kembla

Sounds delightful heh!  But if you look a little further, you can find a beautiful beach, a heritage park and a quirky commercial district.

Port Kembla Location map
Just south of the CBD and right on the coast

 

BHPBiliton  (and its predecessors) have had a presence in the Illawarra since the late 1920s. While its operations have scaled-down over the last few decades, there is still a large and rambling complex of sheds, smokestacks and railways that take up an area from Cringilla, Coniston and Warrawong.

 

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Port Kembla Beach and Ocean Pool

At the end of Cowper Street, you’ll find a long sandy beach and a spectacular ocean pool. Unlike other sea pools in the Wollongong area, the one at Port Kembla is not fed by the tide, but it is filled with seawater. It stands a little above the beach and is surrounded by gorgeous rich yellow walls which give it a very Mediterranean feel. The kid’s pools are well shaded, and there are plenty of places to lie about in the sun on the grassy hill.

The adjoining beach is a long curve that stretches nearly 7 km and ends at Windang on the mouth of Lake Illawarra. The section near the pool is patrolled during the season. The Surf Life Saving Association of NSW rates it as a hazardous beach so it would be best to stick to swimming between the flags.

Port Kembla Beach

Wentworth Street.

The main retail strip is along Wentworth Street. It boasts 3 pubs (one of them closed) a night club (The Vault) and a few cafes and the quirky Wentworth Emporium. At 3 pm on a Saturday afternoon, most of the shops were closed. Through the glass, the cafes looked pretty hip and funky.  Joanne, who opens the Emporium on Fridays and Saturdays, said that business is pretty slow. Her primary source of income being her adjacent upholstery shop. The Emporium is a mix of homewares, bric-a-brac, and potted succulents.

Adding to the ghost-town-like feel, most of the shops are actually empty and for lease. The interiors of some are showing signs of refurbishment while others are filled with chaotic trash.

On the bright side, the area is rebranding itself as an artist’s colony.  The Red Point Artists’ Association is a cluster of businesses which includes a gallery, cafe and several studios from which local artists run workshops and sell their wares.

Another theme is also developing with bridal and bridal accessory businesses filling up the empty shops.

Street Art.

As part of a deliberate rejuvenation program, the annual Wonderwalls Street Art Festival was held in Port Kembla in February 2019. The festival is responsible for brightening up many boring walls in the main part of Wollongong. There are now several very large murals brightening things up in the streets and laneways of Port Kembla.

Heritage Park at Breakwater Battery

There is a small museum near the eastern breakwater wall of the deep water harbour. Originally an observation station built in WWII, it is now home to the Maritime Services Board and the NSW Water Police. The outdoor area has several battery points and some intriguing white pyramids that were moved there from Berkeley Beach. The pyramids were tank barriers and placed on the beach to prevent Japanese tanks from landing on our shores in the 1940’s. Now they serve as fascinating photographic subjects!

 

I get the feeling that Port Kembla is a sleeping giant and waiting for a boom. It would be a great time to get in and buy some property on the cheap and wait for gentrification to happen.

 

Snapshots from Wollongong Series.

Introducing an ongoing Snapshots from Wollongong series

My home town of Wollongong is a fabulously, diverse place. Although a small city by world standards, it is the third-largest in NSW and the 10th largest in Australia. I wrote my first snapshot post back in December 2017. Since then,  I have written a few more posts about things to see and do here.

Click on these links to read my posts about

An A-Z of Wollongong

Over the next few months, I am going to concentrate on a series of “Snapshots from Wollongong”. I have mapped out an A-Z of suburbs and will show you around. It not going to be all glitz and glamour but hopefully a truthful overview of the place I intend to call home till I fall off the perch.

The series is more likely to appeal to ‘Gong locals although if you are thinking of travelling to Australia, Wollongong is an excellent place to get away from the hustle and bustle of Sydney. Some days you can get the whole beach to yourself!

True to my scattered form, I will not be approaching it in strict alphabetical order but just as the fancy takes me and when I can get to where to do the research. At this stage, I have nothing for Z! We don’t have a zoo.

The series starts proper,  this Friday, with P for Port Kembla! It won’t be every week and given I have identified 62 named suburbs in Wollongong’s Local Government Area, it’s going to take me a while!

BTW: I have some wooden postcards featuring Wollongong in my shop.

If you have an idea for Z, let me know in the comments below!

 

Photo of the Week 36

Photo of the Week Challenge

Street photography

I really enjoy making street photos, but I am not very brave and tend to lurk and use a long lens to avoid detection. On this day, in June 2019, I was very brave and stopped and asked this fellow if I could take his photo. He agreed.

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Man and his dogs

 

The dog on his shoulder is called Sasha. The two dogs not on his shoulder are Sasha’s cousins and belong to the man’s sister.

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Man and his shoulder dog

I regret I don’t know the man’s name. We chatted for a while he told me that Sasha had just started sitting on his sholuder when she was a little puppy.

Taken in Inverary, Scotland, using my Panasonic FZ1000 and  processed with Lightroom and Nik’s Silver Efex Pro 2.

 

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Humans of Inverary.

 

St Kilda, Scotland.

St Kilda Island - Sea Stack

St Kilda Island

I often develop a theme for my travel photography. For instance, when I went to France for my 50th birthday, I took pictures of the numbers from 1 through to 50. In Italy, it was doors. In New York, it was taking photos of photographers taking photos.

My original intention on my vacation to Scotland was to take photos of place names that were the same as places in Australia. I was quickly overwhelmed, with nearly every place name having a twin somewhere in Oz. I would have had to of stopped at every suburb, so I ended up abandoning the idea.

St Kilda is a case in point. In Scotland, it is a tiny remote island in the outer Outer Hebrides. Two and a half hours from Harris (on a relatively speedy boat)  which is already about an hour from mainland Scotland on the ferry. In Australia, it’s a hip inner-city Melbourne suburb. They don’t seem to have a lot in common!

St Kilda is a dual World Heritage site and managed by the National Trust of Scotland. It is listed for both its historical value and its wildlife.  It has a fascinating history. Now abandoned, it was once a small community of only 36 people. These hardy souls were evacuated in 1930 because they had no food and no way of supporting themselves.

These days, St Kilda is a defence base, a tourist destination and a place for scientific research. It’s not easy to get to, so visitor numbers are relatively low, although smaller cruise ships can come into its harbour.

Kilda Cruises

I took a trip out to St Kilda with Kilda Cruises.  Kilda Cruises takes small groups (max 12) out to the island from Leverburg, on Harris Island, a few times a week, depending on the weather. When you book, you need to make allowances for a two-day travel window. If the seas are too rough for travel on one day, you need to be available the next day. If it is still too rough, you will get a refund.

It takes about 2 and ½ hours cruising to get to the island. If you are prone to seasickness, I suggest you stay out on the back deck. Here you will be able to watch the sea birds following the wake and breathe in the fresh sea air. It is, however, noisy, so you may want to consider noise-cancelling headphones.  You may catch sight of puffins diving into the water and coming up with mouthfuls of small, silver fish. You might also be lucky to see some whales or dolphins.

St Kilda

The boat leaves Leverburg at 7:45AM and returns at around 7:30PM. You can get a great cup of tea and a bacon butty at the Butty Bus before you depart. The Kilda crew will drop you off at St Kilda’s little harbour where you will transfer to the island in a small dingy. A ranger from the National Trust will give you a run-down on  the island and its history. After this introduction, you’ll have around 5 hours to explore, walk and take in the scenery on your own.

Swamp Orchid - St Kilda

There is no place to buy food, so you need to take your own food and water for the whole day. There is a toilet in the village, near the museum, but away from there, it is a matter of “hide and squat” behind one of the many stone walls!

On the way back, Kilda Cruises provides a lovely hot cup of tea, cake and a shot of whiskey to warm you up. Even though I went in “summer”, I was dressed in fleece-lined Gortex pants, a Gortex jacket, beanie, gloves and a few other layers! Make sure you wear good shoes and be prepared to step in a lot of sheep shit!

Here is a short (long) video of my day on St Kilda. Sorry about the wind noise! While too late for this post, I now have a proper mic for connecting to the phone to cut out the wind!

 

This video shows some of the histories of the island and is obviously (!!!!) not made by me!