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The Native | Eleanor Borg shows us around Wollongong, Australia

Travelling is always risky business – get stuck in a touristy area and your meals are terrible as is the rest of your stay. Eleanor Borg shows us around Wollongong in Australia.

rachelzc
Rachel Zammit Cutajar
17 November 2017, 9:00am
Wollongong, Australia
Wollongong, Australia
The native

Travelling is always risky business – get stuck in a touristy area and your meals are terrible. The same can be said of sightseeing, hotels and nightspots. Travelling to a place where you know people to recommend the right places makes your stay all the more enjoyable.

Eleanor Borg
Eleanor Borg
Eleanor Borg (21), was born in Malta and is currently living in Wollongong, Australia and on student exchange at the University of Wollongong for one semester.

Best spot for sightseeing

Catch views of the entire city at the top of Mount Keira
Catch views of the entire city at the top of Mount Keira
Just 80km south of Syndey, Wollongong is a place of natural beauty. The hike up Mount Kiera is a must. It's a one and a half hour hike each way – longer if you get lost – which is very easy to do. Once you get up there you have an unobstructed view of the whole of Wollongong. It's pretty breathtaking.

Nan Tien Temple also deserves a mention. This is a large Buddhist temple, a short drive out of Wollongong in the suburb of Berkeley. Culturally it is rich, and there are a variety of activities you can participate in. It's grounds are impressive and definitely worth wandering around.

North Wollongong Beach is a pretty beach 15 minutes away from North Wollongong Station. It's the perfect place to grab a good cup of coffee and a couple waves.

Best adventure activity

Go on an adventure camping in the Blue Mountains
Go on an adventure camping in the Blue Mountains
Everyday is a day for adventure in Australia. Whether you're an experienced hiker or enjoy a passigata along Sliema front there's something for everyone.

If camping is your thing, hop on a train and spend the weekend at the Blue Mountains and explore all they have to offer. The Royal National Park also offers some stellar camping spots and provides you with views for days.

If you're just looking for a day trip there's Belmore Falls, numerous treks round The Royal National Park and the Sublime Point hike.

If you're not a Wild Thornberry at heart or would just prefer something a bit more chilled out there are some amazing coastal walks such as the Bondi to Cooggee Coastal walk and the Kiama Coastal Walk. Both require a trip by train so think ahead and pack some snacks.

Best areas to wind down and enjoy nature

Take in the soothing sounds of the ocean at North Wallongong Beach
Take in the soothing sounds of the ocean at North Wallongong Beach
Whether you're a sea person or a land person, Wollongong has something for everyone.

North Wollongong Beach and Fairy Meadow Beach are great for some soothing ocean sounds, or for a dip in the water if you're feeling warm enough. On a sunny day these beaches will be packed (by Australian standards - nothing compared to Ghadira on a Sunday in August).

If you're not all that fond of sand and sea you can check out Mount Kiera, Sublime Point or the Royal National Park. All of these offer breathtaking views and are well worth a visit.

If you need some quiet time in between lectures and are craving some greenery, check out the Botanical Gardens, which are situated right across the road from the main bus bay at Uni. It's the perfect escape from the world. If you're feeling lazy and want to stay on campus, the duck pond offers a similar escape, just make sure you've got your sandwiches somewhere safe and out of reach from the ducks.

Best place for a night out

If you're traveling as a student, check out the various student parties throughout the week. The most notorious being Wednesday night at the Grand Hotel and Thursday night at the Illawarra Hotel.

Wednesday at the Grand is definitely always interesting. There are three rooms all playing different music from High School Musical mash-ups to Jay-Z to Tiga. A typical night at the Grand ends in a snack pack from Fatboy's and running to catch the party bus before it leaves. You can only catch the party bus if you're a student at the University of Wollongong, as this takes you back to the student accommodation premises on campus.

Thursday at the Illa is retro night. It's good fun and people are always down for a dance. If Dancing Queen and Mr. Brightside don't do it for you, there's another dance floor that plays hip hop / R ‘n’ B music. Once again, no night out is complete without a trip to Fatboy's.

Best place to eat

Il Pozzo Cafe
Il Pozzo Cafe
There are loads of good restaurants, bars and what not in Wollongong but my number one would have to be Il Pozzo cafe. It's situated right across the road from North Wollongong station. They offer a wide range of sandwiches, snack packs (halal meat with chips and sauces), burgers etc and even cater to gluten free and vegan diets on request. Plus, it's run by a Maltese lady and her Aussie husband so you can always go there when you need your Maltese lingo fix and some Maltese treats. Pro tip; ask for a Nutella frappe and Ingrid's homemade almond cookies (biskuttini tal-lewz).

Honorable mention: Fatboy Grill and Pide opposite the hotel Illawarra. Ask for a beef snack pack with cheese, garlic sauce and BBQ sauce.

Best spot for shopping

The food market on Crown Street in Wallongong is the place to be on Thursdays
The food market on Crown Street in Wallongong is the place to be on Thursdays
Crown Street is your best bet, there are loads of shops from outdoor shops to supermarkets to clothes shops. There are also some pretty good places to stop and grab a bite to eat or a coffee mid-retail therapy session.

There's also a food market every Thursday evening (weather permitting), which features a large variety of cuisines and is a good way to spend a Thursday evening with friends.

If you want something slightly trendier, you can hop onto a train and head to Bondi Beach in Sydney on a Sunday morning and check out Bondi Market. (Pro tip; public transport on Sundays costs $2.60 for the whole trip, so save your far flung adventures for Sundays).

How to get there

Wollongong is just 80km south of Sydney. Emirates offer daily flights to between Sydney and Malta with a stop over in Dubai. Once you get to the international airport, you can hop into a car and take the Grand Pacific Drive if you’re looking for an adventure. You will experience costal rainforests, quaint seaside villages and the 665-metre Sea Cliff Bridge all before you arrive at your destination. If you’re in a hurry, there is a motorway that can get you there in under 90 minutes.

Alternatively you can hop on a train to Wolli Creek Station from any international airport. Once you arrive you need to disembark and board the South Coast Line train to Wollongong.

Best time of the year to visit

The weather in Wollongong is fairly temperate with average temperatures rarely dropping below 20C. Though this is quite mild you’re not going to spend the day at the beach either. If you’re after warmer temperatures visit between February and November.

Visas

European Union passport holders can apply for a holiday visa free of charge, however you will not be allowed entry into the country without the proper documentation.

Currency

Australian dollars

rachelzc
Rachel Zammit Cutajar graduated in economics from the University of Malta...
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