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Located in the Illawarra region of NSW and some 80 km south of Sydney, Wollongong is Australias seventh largest city.
Wollongong has long had a thriving coal mining and iron and steel smelting industries. It also has a strong surfing culture with excellent beaches nearly, especially to the north of the city.
Things to See
Belmore Basin: This is a part of Wollongong Harbour that was cut out of solid rock in 1869. These days a fishing fleet is based there along with a fish market, cafes and seafood restaurants. The Flagstaff Point Lighthouse, painted in a brilliant white colour, was built on the breakwater there in 1872.
North Beach: An excellent surfing beach just north of the city of Wollongong.
City Gallery: This is the largest regional art gallery in Australia. It specialises in Australian painting and sculpture and contemporary Aboriginal art. It has a good selection of work by colonial Aboriginal artists.
Illawarra Museum: Exhibitions include a reconstruction of the 1902 Mt. Kembla village mining disaster.
Wollongong Botanical Gardens: A flourishing display of tropic and temperate region plants, including a lily garden.
Nan Tien Buddhist Temple: The largest Buddhist temple in Australia. Non-Buddhists are welcome to visit. It offers vegetarian meals and meditation retreats are available.
Historical Walk: A walking tour brochure is available from the information centre in the Crown Street mall in the Wollongong CBD.
Coal and Steel in Wollongong and Port Kembla
Until the early 20th century Wollongong was principally an industrial city based on the export of coal. Coal was mined locally (in the Illawarra and Wollondilly regions) and exported from the small harbour at the end of Marine Drive.
In 1927 the Hoskins Iron and Steel Works (later renamed Australian Iron and Steel) was constructed in Port Kembla, 8 km south of Wollongongs CBD. Since then coal has been sent to Port Kembla to keep the steel furnaces running.
Australian Iron and Steel was purchased in 1935 by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, which was renamed BHP Billiton in 2001 (after merging with the Anglo-Dutch firm Billiton plc) and which has now spun off its steel division into a separate company known as BluScope Steel. Thus the Port Kembla steel works is now operated by BluScope Steel. Coal is suppled by the South 32 company.
In recent years things have been looking bleak for the steel smelting industry in Port Kembla with its No. 6 blast furnace closing in 2011 and rumours spreading the final blast furnace (No. 5) is set to be mothballed in the not too distant future.
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Author: David Paul Wagner
(David Paul Wagner on Google+)