Population 192,418
Avg. Annual Growth (2006-11) 0.9%
Growth Rate 2006-11 4.5%
Area 684km sq.
Key Industry Sectors Health care and social assistance, Education and training, Retail trade
MainUrban Centres Helensburgh, Thirroul, Corrimal, Wollongong, Figtree, Unanderra, Warrawong, Dapto



Wollongong is situated 80km south of the centre of Sydney. Its 714 square kilometre area is set on a narrow strip of coastal plain, bounded by the steep rise of the Illawarra escarpment to the west and the Pacific Ocean to the east. Because of its physical limits to the east and west, Wollongong is very much a linear city, stretching in a thin, virtually unbroken urban line from Helensburgh in the north to the shores of Lake Illawarra and Windang to the south. There is still some rural land in the West Dapto region, which is fast being developed for residential use.

Wollongong’s natural environment is one of its greatest assets. The escarpment dominates the landscape of the area, rising abruptly from the sea to heights of over 300 metres. Its forested slopes provide a visually spectacular backdrop for Wollongong’s suburbs and a valuable corridor for native flora and fauna. National Parks, State Recreation Areas, pockets of sub-tropical rainforest, 17 patrolled beaches and Lake Illawarra add to the appeal of Wollongong’s landscape and offer its inhabitants the opportunity to pursue a diverse range of outdoor recreational activities. Another of the area’s most valuable natural assets is Port Kembla harbour. It is the deepest port on the eastern seaboard, providing local and regional industry with excellent export links to the rest of the world.


Wollongong has a substantial population base. It is the eleventh largest Local Government Area (LGA) in Australia and accounts for nearly half (46.6%) of the entire population of the Illawarra Region. According to the 2011 Census, the Wollongong Local Government Area (LGA) had a population of 192,418. In the period between 2006 and 2011 the region’s population grew at an average annual rate of 0.9%.

Projections by the NSW Department of Urban Affairs and Planning indicate that the population of the Wollongong LGA will continue to grow at a modest but steady rate through to the year 2021. Medium level projections suggest that by the year 2021 the region’s population will have reached 206,600 persons, approximately 5.5% growth on the current estimated population. Much of the population growth is expected to be centred around new residential developments at West Dapto in Wollongong’s south-west.

Wollongong’s large population provides it with a substantial labour force. In 2011, the number of people in the labour force was in 89,050 people and of this number approximately 82,852 were employed. Relative to the rest of New South Wales, Wollongong’s workforce has traditionally included high numbers of unskilled and semi-skilled workers and less people with professional and managerial skills. However, in recent years there has been a notable shift toward a more skilled and adaptable work force. In 2011 managers and professionals accounted for around 34.6% of the work force, while 23.8% of the work force were employed as technicians and tradespeople or labourers.

Economic Activity

Wollongong has an increasingly sophisticated and well-rounded economy. The local economy was built around a strong mining industry and the largest integrated steel works in the Southern Hemisphere at Port Kembla. Recent restructuring of the area’s industrial base has created an efficient, dynamic and innovative environment, positioning Wollongong as a globally competitive industrial centre. In recent times strong growth in tertiary industries such as education, tourism and other service sectors has added considerable depth to the local economy.

Wollongong’s importance to the Illawarra’s economy is underlined by the fact that it is home to 42.6% of all business locations in the Illawarra Statistical District. According to Australian Bureau of Statistics figures there were 12,290 business locations operating in the Wollongong LGA in 2011.

The manufacturing industry accounts for a modest 4.5% of business locations in the Wollongong LGA. Key manufacturing sectors in the region include basic metals, fabricated metals (BHP), building products (Pioneer) and chemical products. Retail trade is another significant contributor to the Wollongong economy (7.9% of business counts). Construction made up 17.6% of businesses in th Wollongong LGA.


A Great Place to Live

Above all else, Wollongong is a great place to enjoy the good life. Warm summers and mild winters mean that the area’s wide range of outdoor recreational activities can be enjoyed all year round. The majority of the area’s residents live only minutes from the beach and Lake Illawarra, which cater for an endless array of water sports such as surfing, fishing, water skiing, sailing, swimming and diving. The magnificent Illawarra Escarpment offers opportunities for bushwalking, picnics and horse riding, and the numerous lookouts provide panoramic views of the coastline. Wollongong also has one of the best cycleway networks in the state, stretching from Bulli in the north, through Puckey’s Estate at North Wollongong and down to Windang on the City’s southern boarder.

Wollongong offers a suburban lifestyle surrounded by nature. Whether you live in a suburb next to the beach or in a rainforest at the foot of the escarpment, nature plays a dominant role in everyday life. Homes are priced very attractively compared to most of Australia’s capital cities and there is a diverse range of housing available.

An Industrial & Commercial Centre

Wollongong is without doubt the industrial and commercial heart of the Illawarra Region. Many of Australia’s largest industrial companies call Wollongong home. Just as importantly, they enjoy major success in an innovative and globally competitive environment.

As a thriving regional centre, Wollongong offers all the services and facilities available in any major Australian city. Retail trade contributes significantly to the local economy and with 5 department stores, over 60 supermarkets and grocery stores and in excess of 1400 retail outlets, locals enjoy ‘big-city’ shopping facilities without the congestion and parking problems associated with shopping in a big city. Wollongong City Mall and surrounds provide a world-class shopping environment and there are conveniently located regional shopping centres at Warrawong, Figtree, Corrimal, Fairy Meadow, Woonona and Dapto. All the major retail chains in Australia have realised the value of setting up shop in the third largest city in NSW, with the likes of Myer, David Jones, Harvey Norman and Westfield Shoppingtown

The Port of Port Kembla

The port of Port Kembla provides an obvious competitive advantage for industry within the area. It is one of Australia’s strategic heavy industry export ports, handling massive amounts of coal, iron ore and steel. The establishment of the Illawarra Ports Authority and the subsequent construction of a $230M grain handling terminal and casting basin in 1989 heralded the commencement of a new commercially oriented and customer responsive port management.

With a range of berth depths to 16.25m, the inner harbour can handle vessels with 230,000dtw capacity and up to 295 metres in length. The port’s impressive cargo volume capacity, advanced materials handling technology, sophisticated regional infrastructure and ideal location have combined as significant factors making Port Kembla one of the most cost effective and efficient shipping destinations in Australia. Linked by modern road and rail the Port has first class transport networks to the markets of Sydney, Canberra and regional NSW.

The University of Wollongong

In 1999, the University of Wollongong (UOW) was awarded the prestigious 1999-2000 Australian University of the Year, a feat repeated a second time in 2000 when the University won the 2000-2001 University of the year, making UOW the first Australian university to win back to back titles - a fitting accolade for a university long recognised as Australia’s premier regional university and a leader in research and development. The University’s international reputation is evidenced by the fact that the World Bank sees it as one of the Asia-Pacific’s leading educational institutions.

The UOW provides an invaluable source of tertiary training and innovative research for both local industry and the community at large. The University is at the forefront of advanced technology research and development, seeking to lead the way as Wollongong emerges as a centre for excellence in advanced technology research and development.

Last Updated: January 2013