The Illawarra Region
|Avg. Annual Growth (2006-11)
|Growth Rate 2006-11
|Key Industry Sectors
||1. Retail Trade (12.9%), 2. Education and Training (11.4%), 3. Manufacturing (11.1%), 4. Construction (9.6%), 5. Accomodation and Food Services (9.0%)
||Wollongong, Shellharbour, Kiama, Shoalhaven,
The Illawarra is a key region of Australia, contributing considerable
resources to the national economy. The region possesses extensive livestock, wood and maritime
enterprises, an internationally recognised university, substantial
tourism capacity, a population of more than 400,000 and a
labour force in excess of 180,000 people. This wealth of resources
is perfectly complimented by the region’s stunning physical
beauty, making it an ideal place to combine outstanding business
success with a great lifestyle.
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE REGION
Geography and Climate
The Illawarra Region lies directly south and southwest of
metropolitan Sydney and northeast of Australia’s capital
city, Canberra. Within its 8,485 square kilometre territory
are five local government areas - Wollongong, Shellharbour,
Kiama, Shoalhaven and Wingecarribee.
The Region displays exceptional physical geography. On its
eastern boundary the region embraces 242km of stunning coastline
and a long coastal plain. The coastline features long, sandy
beaches, harbour inlets, rivers, large protected estuaries
and bays offering unlimited opportunity for recreation and
leisure activities. To the west are the rich agricultural
soils and rolling hills of the Southern Tablelands. The divide
between the coastal plain and the Tablelands is clearly defined
by the sharp rise of the Illawarra Escarpment, which offer
spectacular views of the Region.
The climate is warm and humid with moderate to high rainfall.
Summer is generally warm and wet and winter is generally mild
and dry. The average temperature in the region varies depending
– Av. yearly
Population growth in the Illawarra Region is above the State
average. According to Census data,
the population of the Illawarra Statistical District in 2011
was 413,210. Between 2006 and 2011 the region’s population
is rose by 19,000 people, an increase in
population of 4.9% over the period.
The Department of Urban Affairs and Planning has projected
that the Illawarra region’s population will stand at
around 455,100 by 2016. Such a figure would represent
an increase of approximately 10.1% on the present population.
According to Census of Population and Housing figures, in
the decade between 2006 and 2011 the Illawarra Region’s
resident workforce grew from 173,022 to 184,799 people, an
increase of 6.8%. As the Illawarra’s economy has diversified
the workforce has shifted from employment in traditional heavy
industries to the services sector.
The resident and business communities of the Illawarra have
access to a vast and sophisticated infrastructure. The region’s
essential services such as transport, public utilities, education
and health are world-class.
The Illawarra Region has a well-developed system of transportation
links. Its extensive road network includes the Southern Freeway
and Princes and Hume Highways, which form part of the State’s
main road network. Rail links comprise of the Illawarra line
from Sydney extending through the coastal belt to Bomaderry
near Nowra. The main national rail line (Sydney to Melbourne)
passes through the western region of the Illawarra, stopping
at Moss Vale. The western and northern coastal regions of
the Illawarra are linked by the Moss Vale-Unanderra line,
which is predominantly used for goods traffic.
The region also possesses three airports, located at Albion
Park, Mittagong and Nowra providing links between the region
and intra/interstate destinations for both business and pleasure.
The region also possesses the deepest harbour on the NSW seaboard
at Port Kembla, offering enormous potential for new development
and trade opportunities.
Water, gas and electricity are well supplied to the region.
The main water resources of the Illawarra Region are the catchment
areas of the Shoalhaven River and the upper reaches of the
Wingecarribee, Nepean and Catti Rivers. Water and sewerage
supply for residential and commercial areas is comprehensive,
with the exception of some rural areas of Wingecarribee and
Shoalhaven LGAs. Electricity is distributed throughout the
entire region by Integral Electricity. Natural Gas is available
in most areas of Wollongong, Shellharbour and Wingecarribee
with all new residential subdivisions automatically gaining
supply. The Kiama LGA is supplied with tempered liquid petroleum
whilst the Shoalhaven LGA is also supplied with Liquid Petroleum
The region has an exceptional education infrastructure. There
are a total of 181 primary and secondary schools in the Illawarra
region. The Illawarra
Institute of Technology operates 14 TAFE NSW Campuses throughout
the region, providing a wide variety of vocational skills
training to over 34,500 enrolled students. The internationally
recognised University of Wollongong has four campuses in the
region (Wollongong, Shoalhaven, iC Campus and UOW Southern Highlands), catering for approximately 24,467 enrolled students.
The region has an extensive network of community services
available to its residents. The Illawarra Shoalhaven Health District
oversees the provision of an extensive range of essential
public health care services within the region, including 9
public hospitals and 14 Community centres. There is an abundant
supply of childcare facilities in the region’s major
Local Government support for business and the community is
strong in the Illawarra. The five local councils of the region are members of the Southern Councils Group, a voluntary association that has been set up to provide a forum for a unified approach to economic and social issues of regional significance. Each council has adopted policies
designed to provide developers with the utmost priority in
processing building and development applications and assistance
is available at a local government level for businesses seeking
to relocate or expand into the region.
The natural attractions of the region are well supplemented
by high standard tourism services and facilities. The region
provides a wide range of accommodation, restaurants, entertainment
and conference facilities and the local governments of the
region are continually seeking to encourage sustainable new
developments. As of June 2012 the region had 85 hotels
and motels with facilities.
The region’s tourist precincts are well serviced by
transport links with the major tourist hubs of Sydney and
Sporting & Recreational Facilities
The Illawarra Region owns an impressive array of sporting
and recreational facilities. Facilities such as pools, sporting
fields, golf courses, bush-walking tracks, patrolled beaches
and horse and dog racing tracks are in abundance throughout
the region. Wollongong’s Beaton Park sporting complex
has a world-class athletics track, which was used by visiting
international teams in preparation for the year 2000 Olympic
Games in Sydney.
The Illawarra possesses a world-class communications infrastructure.
Apart from existing networks of high standard telephony and
Internet services, the region has been part of an innovative
piloting program of new optical fibre technology. Mass communications
infrastructure is advanced, with three regional television
stations and a number of local AM and FM radio stations providing
an excellent medium for cost effective business promotion
within the region.
The Illawarra has diversified its economy over the last few
decades. What was once a very narrow economic base, focusing
almost exclusively on heavy industry manufacturing, mining,
agriculture and fishing, has expanded to include a broader
range of economic activities. Significant growth has occurred
in new areas of manufacturing and in tertiary industries such
as business services, tourism and education.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics Business
Register, the Illawarra Statistical District had 28,853 business counts
in operation as at June 2011. The industry
sectors with the largest number of business locations recorded
were Construction (5,500), Professional, Scientific and Technology (3,150) and Rental, Hiring and Real Estate Services (2,832).
The region’s agricultural industry has remained robust,
with the gross value of produce in the 2001 season valued
at around $89 million. Dairy and beef cattle grazing provide
the main source of agricultural activity in the region with
growth evident in fruit and wine grape growing industries.
Retail trade is a significant employer in the region, providing
jobs for over 17,300 people.
The Illawarra is well positioned both geographically and
economically to take advantage of the challenges of the 21st
Century. As one of the leading heavy industry centres of the
Southeast Asian Region, the Illawarra’s economy is already
well entrenched in the global economy. Strong growth in tourism
and educational industries, an emphasis on value-added agricultural
products, an emerging role as a centre of excellence in advanced
telecommunications technology, and a wealth of natural resources
are further evidence of the Illawarra’s advantage over
Location & Lifestyle
The Illawarra has a great natural advantage over other regional
centres. Few places in the Australia can boast the Illawarra’s
mix of industry, location and lifestyle. The Illawarra’s
close proximity to the massive Sydney market and Sydney’s
international airport are obvious advantages of its geographic
position. Furthermore, businesses within the Illawarra have
access to the national transport corridor linking Sydney,
Canberra and Melbourne.
The region’s physical beauty and wealth of outdoor recreation
options have long attracted people to both live and play in
the region. A thriving tourism industry and growing numbers
of people relocating and retiring to the region are strong
evidence of the Illawarra’s lifestyle appeal.
Heavy Industry Manufacturing Leader
Coal mining is a major economic activity within the
Illawarra that has contracted but still maintains a vital
role in the economy. In the year to March 2008, the regions coal companies
produced 13.8 million tonnes of raw coal.
Availability of Raw Materials
The local availability of a wide variety of raw materials
is a strong advantage for the region’s industry. The
main mineral resource mined in the region is black coal, but
other minerals mined in lesser amounts include blue metal,
sand, shale, bauxite, copper lead and zinc.
An Export Hub for Southern NSW
Port Kembla is the deepest harbour on the eastern seaboard
of Australia and represents a major competitive advantage
for the region. With its coal, grain and other cargo handling
capacity handling capacity it provides an excellent shipping
facility and an excellent link to export markets for the whole
of southern and southwestern NSW. The availability of port-related
industrial land is another major attribute which offers opportunities
for export-oriented enterprises.
Learning Centre of Excellence
Education has played a vital role in the Illawarra region’s
recent development. The University of Wollongong and the TAFE NSW
network add considerably to the skills base of the region’s
labour force and represent a growing educational export industry.
The University of Wollongong is one of the most innovative
and dynamic educational institutions in Australia, enjoying
an international reputation as a centre of excellence in learning.
The University was named University of the
Year for 1999-2000 and again for 2000-2001by the Federal Government, adding to its already outstanding
reputation. The University of Wollongong was the first ever back to back winner of this award.
In 2010, Wollongong University had 24,467 enrolled students
studying in various faculties including Arts, Creative Arts,
Education, Commerce, Engineering, Health and Behavioural Sciences,
Informatics, Law and Science. 15,643 were enrolled as full time students, while 8,824 Part-time students were enrolled. The University has formed strong
international links, and has become a leader in the export
of educational services.
The region’s extensive TAFE network provides a high
standard of vocational skills training for the local community
and helps to build upon the healthy pool of skilled workers
in the region. There were 32,386 college enrolments in 2010.
A Tourist Haven
Tourism and recreation activities draw large numbers of visitors
from Sydney, Canberra, regional NSW and interstate to the
Illawarra. According to Destination NSW, for the year ending June 2012, the Wollongong Statistical District drew in 1.0 Million domestic visitors, an increase of 12.4% on the previous year, which generated some 2.6 Million visitor nights (up 12.1%).
The Illawarra’s popularity can be attributed to the
fact that it offers a wide variety of holiday and tourism
experiences in a stunning physical environment. The Illawarra’s
escarpment, its golden sandy beaches, many national parks
and forests and the tranquil rural setting of the Southern
Tablelands provide a strong base for the tourism industry
to build on. Significant natural attractions in the region
include the Kiama Blowhole, Minnamurra Rainforest, Lake Illawarra,
Jervis Bay and Morton National Park, which add to the region’s
Centre for Advanced Technology Research and Development
The Illawarra is developing a fine reputation as a centre
for innovative research and development in a range of fields
including applied telecommunication technology, advanced manufacturing
processes and waste management technology.
There are a number of organisations within the region either
undertaking or helping to foster pioneering advanced technology
research and development. For instance, the Institute for
Telecommunications Research at the University of Wollongong
is home to Telstra’s Customised Software Solutions Centre
and the NorTel Networks Technology Centre. The Institute and its tenants
are fast gaining the region a reputation as the nation’s
pre-eminent centre in this highly specialised field.
The Centre for Information Technology Research at the University
of Wollongong provides another example of the Illawarra’s
large pool of advanced technology expertise. The Centre conducts
innovative research relating to such areas as network software,
wireless technologies, speech coding and security.
The Illawarra Technology Corporation’s (ITC) Division
of Advanced Technologies offers an extensive range of commercial
services in such areas as manufacturing development, feasibility
studies, consulting, training and environmental services.
In recent times the ITC has worked closely with manufacturers
to integrate advanced technologies into the region’s
INDUSTRY & EMPLOYMENT TRENDS
Major workforce restructuring and economic diversification
over the past few decades have resulted in strong growth in
the tertiary sector. High levels of growth have been experienced
in the retailing, tourism, education and finance industries.
As the economic base of the region has changed, a concerted
effort has been maintained to match education and training
with the needs of employers and new industries. The result
is an increasing pool of professional and specialist expertise
throughout the region.
Manufacturing will remain the key industry within the Illawarra.
The majority of manufacturers in the region produce heavy
industrial products such as basic metal products, fabricated
metal products, non-metallic mineral products, food and beverage
products and paper products. BlueScope Steel still dominates the manufacturing
industry and is a major employer and income generator for
The Illawarra Region is aiming to build on its existing economic
base by focusing on value-adding opportunities in the areas
of manufacturing, coal resources, minerals, agriculture, aquaculture,
education and tourism.