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City of Wollongong
New South Wales
Wollongong LGA NSW.png
Location in NSW
 • Density 297.70/km2 (771.0/sq mi)
Established 1942 (as the City of Wollongong)
Area 684 km2 (264.1 sq mi)
Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery
Council seat Wollongong
Region Illawarra
State electorate(s)
  • Wollongong
  • Keira
  • Shellharbour
  • Heathcote
Federal Division(s)
Wollongong City Council Logo.png
Website City of Wollongong
LGAs around City of Wollongong:
Campbelltown, Wollondilly Sutherland Tasman Sea
Wingecarribee City of Wollongong Tasman Sea
Wingecarribee Shellharbour Tasman Sea

The City of Wollongong is a local government area in the Illawarra region of New South Wales, Australia. The area is situated adjacent to the Tasman Sea, the Princes Motorway and the Illawarra railway line.

Located 80 kilometres (50 mi) south of Sydney central business district, the City of Wollongong covers 714 square kilometres (276 sq mi) and occupies a narrow coastal strip bordered by the Royal National Park to the north, Lake Illawarra to the south, the Tasman Sea to the east and the Illawarra escarpment to the west.

The Lord Mayor of the City of Wollongong Council is Councillor Gordon Bradbery, an independent politician.


The area covers the northern and central suburbs of Wollongong, bounded by Helensburgh in the north, the Illawarra escarpment to the west, and by Macquarie Rivulet (Yallah, Haywards Bay) and the Lake Illawarra entrance (Windang) to the south.


At the 2011 census, there were 192,418 people in the City of Wollongong local government area, of these 49.5 per cent were male and 50.5 per cent were female. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people made up 2.2 per cent of the population, which was marginally lower than the national and state averages of 2.5 per cent. The median age of people in the City of Wollongong was 38 years, slightly above the national median. Children aged 0 – 14 years made up 18.5 per cent of the population and people aged 65 years and over made up 16.4 per cent of the population. Of people in the area aged 15 years and over, 48.0 per cent were married and 11.5 per cent were either divorced or separated.

Population growth in the City of Wollongong between the 2001 census and the 2006 census was 2.14 per cent; and in the subsequent five years to the 2011 census, population growth was 4.45 per cent. When compared with total population growth of Australia for the same periods, being 5.78 per cent and 8.32 per cent respectively, population growth in the City of Wollongong local government area was significantly lower than the national average. The median weekly income for residents within the City of Wollongong was marginally lower than the national average. The forecast population growth from 2006 to 2031 is approximately 0.99% per annum.

At the 2011 census, the proportion of residents in the City of Wollongong local government area who stated their ancestry as Australian or Anglo-Celtic exceeded 66 per cent of all residents (national average was 65.2 per cent). In excess of 59% of all residents in the City of Wollongong nominated a religious affiliation with Christianity at the 2011 census, which was slightly higher than the national average of 50.2 per cent. Meanwhile, as at the census date, compared to the national average, households in the City of Wollongong local government area had a marginally lower than average proportion (20.2 per cent) where two or more languages are spoken (national average was 20.4 per cent); and a slightly higher proportion (79.4 per cent) where English only was spoken at home (national average was 76.8 per cent).

Selected historical census data for the City of Wollongong local government area
Census year 2001 2006 2011 2016
Population Estimated residents on Census night 180,358 184,212 192,418 203,630
LGA rank in terms of size within New South Wales 10th
% of New South Wales population 2.78% Decrease 2.72%
% of Australian population 0.96% Decrease 0.93% Decrease 0.89% Decrease 0.87%
Cultural and language diversity
top responses
Australian 26.9% 25.2%
English 25.8% 26.0%
Irish 7.3% 7.9%
Scottish 6.8% 7.0%
Italian 4.6% 4.3%
top responses
(other than English)
Macedonian 3.2% Decrease 2.9% Decrease 2.7% 2.3%
Italian 2.9% Decrease 2.5% Decrease 2.2% 1.8%
Arabic n/c Increase 0.8% Increase 1.1% 1.4%
Mandarin n/c Steady n/c Increase 1.1% 1.5%
Greek 1.2% Decrease 1.1% Decrease 0.9% 0.8%
Religious affiliation
Religious affiliation,
top responses
Catholic 29.6% Decrease 28.9% Decrease 28.2% 25.6%
Anglican 23.7% Decrease 22.5% Decrease 20.9% 16.6%
No Religion 11.8% Increase 14.9% Increase 19.6% 27.8%
Eastern Orthodox 6.3% Decrease 6.1% Decrease 5.8% 4.3%
Uniting Church 5.9% Decrease 5.3% Decrease 4.6%
Median weekly incomes
Personal income Median weekly personal income A$391 A$489 A$584
% of Australian median income 83.9% Increase 84.7%
Family income Median weekly family income A$1,149 A$1,426 A$1,710
% of Australian median income 98.1% Decrease 96.3%
Household income Median weekly household income A$933 A$1,101 A$1,339
% of Australian median income 90.8% Decrease 89.2%

Origins and development

The name Wollongong originated from the Aboriginal word woolyungah meaning five islands. Archeological evidence indicates that Aboriginals have lived here for at least 30,000 years. Wodi Wodi is the tribe name of the Aboriginal people of the Illawarra. Dr Charles Throsby first established a settlement in the area in 1815, bringing down his cattle from the Southern Highlands to a lagoon of fresh water located near South Beach. The earliest reference to Wollongong was in 1826, in a report written by John Oxley, about the local cedar industry. The area's first school was established in 1833, and just one year later the Surveyor-General arrived from Sydney to lay out the township of Wollongong on property owned by Charles Throsby-Smith.

The local steel industry commenced in 1927 with Charles Hoskins entering into an agreement with the New South Wales Government to build a steelworks at Port Kembla, thereby commencing a long history of steel production that still continues to this day. Operations began in 1930 with one blast furnace of 800 tons capacity. In 1936, BHP acquired Australian Iron and Steel Limited and production at Port Kembla increased rapidly. The steel industry was a catalyst for growth for many decades, and laid the foundations for the city's economy, lifestyle and culture.

Administrative history

Local government in the Illawarra region started with the passage of the , which allowed for limited local government in the form of a warden and between 3 and 12 councillors to be appointed by the Governor. Between July and September 1843, 28 such entities had been proclaimed by Governor George Gipps—the Illawarra District Council, the 17th to be declared, was proclaimed on 24 August 1843, with a population of 4,044 and an area of 1,708 square kilometres (659 sq mi) covering the coastal plain from Bulli to Nowra and including inland districts such as Kangaroo Valley. Due to various factors, the District Councils were ineffective, and most had ceased to operate by the end of the decade.

The , which gave the councils more authority and which allowed for residents to petition for incorporation of areas and also to elect councillors, met with somewhat greater success. On 22 February 1859, the Municipality of Wollongong, with an area of 8 square kilometres (3 sq mi) and a population of 1,200, became the first to be proclaimed under the Act in New South Wales, with 114 residents in favour and none against. The first elections were held on 29 March 1859, with John Garrett becoming the first mayor of Wollongong.

Other entities sprang into existence thereafter to service the surrounding region. The first, on 19 August 1859, was the Central Illawarra Municipality, which extended over 339.5 square kilometres (131.1 sq mi) from Unanderra (west of Wollongong) to Macquarie Rivulet, and had a population of 2,500. After an unsuccessful attempt by Wollongong to claim the area, the region from Fairy Meadow to Bellambi separately incorporated as North Illawarra on 26 October 1868. Finally, the Shire of Bulli was proclaimed further north on 15 May 1906.

Wollongong was proclaimed as a city on 11 September 1942. There was considerable pressure for amalgamation of the Illawarra area, which had transformed from a disparate rural area with some coastal towns into an increasingly urban-industrial region, and on 12 September 1947, the City of Wollongong, the Shires of Bulli and Central Illawarra, and the Municipality of North Illawarra amalgamated to form the City of Greater Wollongong under the .

On 10 April 1970, a Lord Mayoralty was conferred on the city by Queen Elizabeth II, and on 30 October 1970, the City reverted to the name "City of Wollongong".

Its motto is "Urbs Inter Mare Montemque"—"City Between the Mountains and the Sea". Its corporate slogan is "City of Innovation".

Proposed amalgamation

A 2015 review of local government boundaries recommended that the City of Wollongong merge with the City of Shellharbour to form a new council with an area of 831 square kilometres (321 sq mi) and support a population of approximately 276,000. The outcome of an independent review is expected to be completed by mid–2016.

On 14 February 2017, the NSW Government announced that there would be no amalgamation between Wollongong and Shellharbour council areas.

In October 2008, the ICAC referred briefs of evidence in relation to all eleven persons found to have acted corruptly to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). After considering the evidence available, the DPP commenced action and was successful in recording convictions for three of the eleven people ICAC found to have acted in a corrupt manner. A summary of the individuals concerned, and the determinations made by the Courts are as follows:

Individual Role Details of ICAC recommendations to the DPP Criminal findings Sentence
Frank Vellar Property Developer various offences including offences under s. 249B(2) of corruptly giving benefits to Ms Morgan in return for her giving him favourable treatment to his DAs Found guilty of three charges of giving false or misleading evidence to ICAC and one charge of fabricating a document. A further false or misleading evidence charge was dismissed. He served a 10-month sentence via an intensive correctional order, was fined $3000 and given a two-year good behaviour bond.
Bulent "Glen" Tabak Property Developer various offences including under s.249B(2) of the Crimes Act for corruptly giving benefits to Ms Morgan and Mr Scimone On 6 July 2010, Mr Tabak was found guilty of an offence of wilfully make false statement to the Commission or a Commission officer, contrary to section 80(c) of the ICAC Act [a further matter was taken into account in accordance with Division 3 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999].

On 13 September 2010 Mr Tabak appealed against his conviction and sentence. The Judge dismissed the appeal and upheld the conviction and sentence.

He was fined $2500 and given a two-year good behaviour bond.
Frank Gigliotti Former Councillor of Wollongong City Council for offences under s.249B(1) of the Crimes Act of corruptly soliciting a benefit from Mr Vellar and under s.80(c) of the ICAC Act for wilfully making a false statement to or misleading the Commission Faced seven charges. Three were withdrawn, he was acquitted of one and found not guilty of another. He was found guilty of two counts of giving false or misleading evidence to ICAC. He served four months in prison.

The NSW Government installed administrators to run the Council. Dr Col Gellatly, Robert McGregor and Gabrielle Kibble were appointed to the administrator roles, but as of January 2010 Mrs Kibble resigned and was replaced by Richard Colley. Following the passing and assent of the , local government elections were re-instituted in 2011, and a new Council elected, replacing the administrators.


Wollongong is proud of its industrial roots, and is still known and acknowledged as one of Australia's leading industrial centres. While steel and other manufacturing industries remain an essential part of the local economy, the city has long recognised the need to diversify its economic base. Construction of the Sea Cliff Bridge to the north has given even more focus to the burgeoning tourism industry, and information technology, hospitality, health services and telecommunications continue to grow as key industries of the region.

Wollongong enjoys a rich sense of community and cultural heritage, with people from more than 30 different language groups and 20 religious backgrounds living in harmony. A deep respect for others' traditions and regular celebrations of diverse customs add to the vibrant tapestry of community life and provide another dimension to our increasingly sophisticated city.

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