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.


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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.


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.