Snapshots from Wollongong – G and K

K is for Keiraville and G is for Gwynneville

This post gives the profile for two adjoining suburbs, that while small in area, pack a lot of punch in the facilities they offer.

These two small villages are well-established suburbs which have been part of Wollongong more or less since land grants were made in the area. Once again the Spearing family were the first to own a parcel of land here. Keiraville is named after Mt Keira which rises above it at the end of Gipps Road. Gwynneville is named after John Gwynne, a farmer who lived in the area in the late 1880s.

The small commercial centres for both Kieraville and Gywnneville run off Gipps Road.

G is for Gwynneville

Gwynnevilleinfo

For a small place, there is a lot happening here! Gwynneville offers some major sporting venues. Firstly, Beaton Park Leisure Centre which has a 25m indoor heated pool as well as a well-equipped gym. The gym is owned and operated by the Wollongong City Council. There are lots of group exercise classes plus the regular gym weights and machines. A full-size basketball court is also used by local clubs for badminton and other sports. In case you pull a muscle, there is a Sports Medicine clinic in the grounds too.

Beaton Park Gym
Beaton Park Gym

Within the same complex is the Kerryn McCann Athletics Centre which has an 8 lane running track, long jump and pole vaulting facilities as well as a shot put and discus areas.  Members of the gym can use the running track when it is not being used by the Athletics Club. Nearby and sharing the same car park, is Wollongong Tennis Club which has 14 full-size courts (10 synthetic and 4 clay) and 8 mini-courts for kids. The Clubhouse is licensed, and they serve drinks and meals most days. It is closed on Mondays and only open every second Sunday. Just across the little stormwater drain is the Snakepit Basketball Stadium, which is the home of Illawarra Basketball. The major league’s games are not played here anymore as they moved to the bigger Wollongong Entertainment Centre.

We are not done yet.

Across the road from the  Beaton Park cluster is Wisemans Park Bowling Club which has three greens and a large licensed club. Next door to the Bowling Club, is a  cricket oval. There is a second cricket oval adjacent to the Kerryn McCann track which is used for soccer in the winter.

The small shopping centre has a pharmacy, a mixed business which doubles as the Post Office, a greengrocer, a chicken and chips place, two cafes, one of which includes a boutique, a bakery which also has a cafe,  an Asian grocery store, a Turkish takeaway and pizza place and a Chinese take-away. There is also a petrol station, a small community theatre company, Senior Citizens Centre, a beautician and hairdressers!

Another feature is the Omar Mosque, one of three mosques in Wollongong.

There is a public primary school as well as a catholic primary school. The designated high school is Wollongong High School of Performing Arts which takes local students and students by audition for its performance program.

All this, within walking distance of the main town of Wollongong and the University, make it a very desirable place to live. It is well serviced by buses, and North Wollongong station is very closeby. It should be noted that Gwynneville is dissected by the Princes Motorway, a 4 lane highway with lots of traffic!

 

K is for Keiraville

Keiraville

A little further up the hill towards Mt Keira, you’ll find Keiraville. This pleasant suburb also has lots to offer. It has two of the city’s big guns: the University of Wollongong and the Wollongong Botanic Gardens.

The Wollongong Botanic Gardens is one of my go-to places when I am looking for a little photography inspiration. While only small, it has an impressive collection and I especially love the succulent and cactus collections. My grandson loves to feed the ducks (as do most of the toddlers in Wollongong.) There is a coffee van, which at the time of writing is open 7 days a week, where you can get snacks as well as tea or coffee while browsing the street library collection. There is an enclosed playground for kids and plenty of lawns and delightful nooks for big family gatherings or romantic picnics.

On the high side of the Gardens and up the grassy hill is Gleniffer Brae, a heritage-listed residence that now houses the Wollongong Conservatorium of Music. Built in 1937-39.  It is described as being a Tudor Revival style. There has been some controversy in recent years about its use and redevelopment.

Keiraville also has a  small shopping centre with three cafes, a pharmacy and petrol station, a bottle shop, a small supermarket, a post office, a travel agent and a homewares/clothing boutique. An alternate medicine/clinic offering “new age” treatments as well as a physiotherapist has also opened up in the last year. There is also a small Polish Museum.

Keiraville Primary School which opened in 1891, is a quaint collection of weatherboard buildings.  The local designated high school is Wollongong School of Performing Arts.

 

Parking near Wollongong University.

Since both Keiraville and Gwynneville are close to the University, parking is an issue. There are clearly marked parking bays on the residential streets surrounding the Uni. While the Uni and the Council have done their best to make public transport an attractive option by providing a free bus that loops around the central Wollongong area and a free shuttle bus from North Wollongong station, plenty of students still drive. Parking in the Uni is probably beyond the financial resources of students.

Snapshots from Wollongong – Mt Keira

Gum leaf on the track

M is for Mt Keira.

Mt Keira and Mt Kembla although not mighty alps, dominate the Illawarra Escarpment.  These landforms are of considerable significance to the local Dharawal people,  who refer to Mt Kembla as the men’s mountain and  Mt Keira as the women’s mountain.

Along with Mt Keira and Mt Kembla, there are also other suburbs called Mt Pleasant, Mt St Thomas, Marshall Mount and Mt Ousley.

Mt Keira

 

Mt Keira is a small residential suburb on the side of Mt Keira itself. This flat peak of mostly sandstone rises 434 M above sea level.  Only 460 families call Mt Keira home, but it is a very popular recreational venue for visitors and locals alike. There is a charming picnic ground at Byarong Park which is also one of the trailheads for the Mt Keira Ring Track. In addition to this walking track, there are few sidetracks and other mountain bike tracks which are well used.

There is both a Scout Camp and a Guides Camp, parts of which can be hired for private functions.

Mt Keira Ring Track

The Ring Track is around 5.5 km long and encircles the Mt  Keira Summit. The track has recently been renovated, and you can now walk all the way around. Before this, the section below the Mt Kiera Lookout was closed due to rock falls. The renovation has seen the installation of hundreds of steps and a few boardwalks.

There is a Summit Park, which has a cafe. The cafe opens Thursdays – Sundays and has a magnificent view over the entire Wollongong coastal plain.

I walked the Ring Track on the first weekend in October 2019.  It took me longer than I expected because I took wrong turns, twice. While it is well signposted there are a few anomalies with the directional markers which meant I missed the two crucial turns. The 5.5 km walk became 10.7 km!

I was pleased to come across a stand of waratahs which I otherwise would have missed so being lost was a serendipitous adventure.  Waratahs are NSW State emblem and are relatively rare. Their showy, glossy red flowers really stand out in the olive green Australian bushscape.

Mt Keira is definitely worth a visit. Take your walking shoes and a picnic basket.

 

Snapshots from Wollongong – Woonona

W is for Woonona

Wollongong has more than its fair share of suburbs starting with W. There is Wollongong itself, Woonona, Windang, Warrawong and Wombarra.

 

Woonona (including Woonona East) is in the “northern” suburbs. Here, the coastal strip is narrow, and the escarpment rises sharply only 3 kilometres beyond the beach. The suburb is divided by the Princes Highway and the railway line. East Woonona is east of the railway, and while not officially its own suburb, there is a significant demarcation in terms of house prices once you go across those tracks.

Woonona’s Numbers.

Woonona Infographic

Cook’s foiled landing attempt in Woonona.

Woonona has a big claim to fame in that it was the place where Captain Cook first attempted to land on Australian soil. Rough seas prevented the landing party coming to shore, and they continued to head north to Botany Bay.

 

Sea birds at Woonona Beach
Taken at Collin’s Point, Woonona

 

Woonona’s retail sector.

There is a small shopping area at “the Circle” at East Woonona where there is a newsagent, a bottle shop (AKA liquor store), a couple of fish and chip shops, a bakery and a small supermarket. There is (was)  also a hair salon.

Woonona itself has a largish shopping precinct with an IGA Supermarket, a McDonalds,  a very large RSL Club which includes a gym and many speciality shops. This shopping centre runs along both sides of the Highway and parking can be a bother. There is a car park in the street that runs parallel to the Highway on the eastern side.

It is well serviced by restaurants, and Samara’s (a Lebanese restaurant) is one of my favourites. They serve great food, and there is an amiable vibe. There is also a very good Thai place and terrific sushi place – Moon Sushi a bit further north.

If you are looking for coffee close to the beach, there is a cafe at 1 Park Road which has gone through a few iterations. Right now it’s called North Break Cafe.

Beach Fishig at Woonona

Woonona has two public primary schools and a High School. Woonona Primary opened in 1885, and some of the original buildings are still on site. The High School opened in 1964.

If you are looking for interesting architecture, the Woonona Co-operative Building in Ball Street is a bit of a standout. Built in the Spanish Mission Style in 1928 it was first a bakery (the largest on the south coast) and later a department store. It is now home to a pizza parlour and a self-storage business.

Flooding in Woonona

Because of the geography with the narrow coastal strip, the steep escarpment and small creek systems, the northern suburbs including Woonona are subject to flash flooding. In 1998 one person was killed and hundreds of homes damaged when 314mm (more than 12 inches) of rain fell in 6 hours.

Angels singing at Woonona Beach

 

Woonona Beach

The Woonona Beach is well known as a good surfing beach, and there is an ocean pool and changing rooms at its northern end. Like Bellambi, the cycleway runs right past the beach, and there is a series of sports’ ovals and a childrens’ park which has excellent views. If you had a mind to, you could walk from Wollongong to Woonona and beyond along the beach with the headlands being easy to scramble over in low tides.

 

 

Ocean Pool, Woonona
Woonona’s Ocean Pool at night.

 

I used to live in Woonona and hence have a bit of a soft spot for it and quite a few photos in my archives!

 

 

Snapshots Of Wollongong – Bellambi

B is for Bellambi

B might be for Bellambi but it’s  also for Balgownie, Berkeley, Brownsville and Bulli, some of which will be covered in their own posts.

 

Screenshot 2019-10-01 10.48.33
Bellambi is located to the north of Wollongong

 

Bellambi is a beachside suburb with significant indigenous connections and it remains important for the local Dharawal people. Large middens that existed near the beach have been destroyed by industrial development, transport infrastructure and residential housing. There is an active indigenous community which support events such as a large Reconciliation Walk which occurs during NAIDOC Week.

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Things to do in Bellambi

Bellambi has some tremendous recreational features which means there is plenty to do. It is right on the Wollongong – Thirroul cycleway which passes within metres of the sandy beach, Bellambi Lagoon and several picnic and bbq areas. There is a public toilet and a children’s playground at Bellambi Point Park.  The beach is patrolled, and there is a fabulous ocean pool.

Bellambi Ocean Pool 4a

The pool is fed directly from the ocean and is not treated in any way.  The beach is within easy walking distance from the Railway station.  There is a bowling alley on the western side of the Highway.

 

Bellambi’s stats and numbers

Bellambi infographic.jpg

 

Bellambi doesn’t really have a commercial area, but there are a few shops, (pharmacist, doctors’ surgery, a petrol station) a pub and a bowling club on or near Pioneer Drive.  This means you will have to go to the next closest retail centre, in  Corrimal. There is a large co-educational Catholic High School – Holy Spirit College and a primary school. The designated local public high school is Woonona High.

Bellambi is a social housing hub, with 40% of residences being rented and the majority of these from the Department of Housing.  This aspect has given Bellambi a “bad reputation”  as an economically depressed suburb.  On the plus side, the housing blocks are large and flat with most being the old 1/4 acre block with the three-bed fibro house plonked in the middle.  Once again, another suburb ripe for gentrification.