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Wandering Through Wollongong: A Gonzo Guide to Australia's Coastal Gem

submitted on 20 January 2024 by


If you're tired of the mainstream tourist traps like Sydney and Melbourne, and you're looking for something a bit more offbeat, then look no further than the coastal city of Wollongong. Located about 80 kilometers south of Sydney, Wollongong is an ideal destination for those seeking quirky attractions, beautiful beaches, and an overall unique Australian experience. But I must warn you, to truly appreciate the wonders of Wollongong, you must be prepared to embrace the peculiar, the eccentric, and the downright strange. So, pack your bags and follow me into the madness that is Wollongong!

Arcane Arts and Moonscape Gardens

Start your journey into the curious world of Wollongong by visiting the Wollongong Art Gallery, where you'll find a collection of eclectic and often bizarre artwork from both local and international artists. The gallery is known for its contemporary exhibitions, so expect to see anything from abstract pieces that'll have you pondering their meaning for hours, to peculiar sculptures that may or may not be staring back at you.After you've had your fill of art, take a trip to the nearby Wollongong Botanic Gardens, a seemingly ordinary botanical garden that holds some truly extraordinary surprises. Wander through the Moonscape Garden, a curious little section of the park filled with surreal, moon-like rock formations, where you half expect to come across an alien species or two. This otherworldly landscape is a sight to behold, and will leave you feeling like you've just stepped foot on another planet.

Sail Away on a Sublime Shipwreck

Now that you've had a taste of the oddities that Wollongong has to offer, it's time for an adventure on the high seas - or rather, under them. For you see, Wollongong is home to the SS Undola, a shipwreck that lies just off the coast and is a paradise for scuba divers and marine life alike. The 137-meter-long ship sank in 1918 and now hosts a vibrant community of aquatic inhabitants, such as octopuses, moray eels, and even the occasional grey nurse shark. If you're feeling brave, dive down and explore the wreckage for a truly unforgettable underwater experience.

Stave Off Sanity at the Science Centre

Once you've resurfaced from your aquatic odyssey, head over to the Science Centre and Planetarium, a place where science and insanity intertwine to create a chaotic yet incredibly educational experience. With over 100 interactive exhibits, there's no shortage of opportunities for hands-on learning and mind-bending entertainment. Lose yourself in the Mirror Maze, a labyrinth of reflective surfaces that'll have you questioning which way is up, and then continue your descent into madness with a visit to the Chaotic Pendulum, a mesmerizing contraption that demonstrates the unpredictability of chaotic motion.

Unwind with the Weird and Wonderful Wildlife

Now that you've thoroughly frazzled your senses, take a breather and head to the Symbio Wildlife Park, a sanctuary for both native Australian animals and eccentric tourists alike. Get up close and personal with kangaroos, wallabies, and emus, or watch in awe as the park's resident koalas indulge in their daily routine of eating, sleeping, and looking utterly adorable. But don't be fooled by their cute and cuddly appearance - these marsupials have a strange and somewhat sinister secret: they're actually the world's foremost experts on quantum mechanics. Trust me, I've heard them discussing Schrödinger's cat on more than one occasion.

Surviving the Nightlife

As the sun sets on your wild and wacky day in Wollongong, it's time to experience the city's nightlife - a peculiar mix of laid-back pubs, rowdy bars, and questionable establishments. Start your evening at the Illawarra Brewery, where you can sample a variety of locally brewed craft beers while enjoying the live music and waterfront views. Then, venture over to the Five Islands Speakeasy, a clandestine bar where you'll need a secret password to enter (hint: it's "kangaroo"). Once inside, you'll be transported back to the 1920s, complete with vintage décor, flapper dresses, and of course, an array of prohibition-style cocktails.Finish your night by dancing away your remaining sanity at the Ivory Club, an eccentric nightclub that prides itself on its bizarre and outrageous theme nights. From 80s discos to futuristic raves, there's no telling what kind of outlandish event you'll stumble upon, but one thing's for sure: it'll be a night you won't soon forget.


Wollongong may not be the most conventional destination, but that's precisely what makes it so extraordinary. With its peculiar attractions, stunning scenery, and offbeat charm, this coastal city offers a one-of-a-kind experience that's truly unforgettable. So, if you're game for an adventure like no other, step outside of your comfort zone and embark on a gonzo journey through the wonderfully weird world of Wollongong.
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