Although it's New South Wales' third-largest city, Wollongong has more of a country-town feel; the students of Wollongong University give it extra life in term time and it also enjoys a big dose of surf culture as the city centre is set right on the ocean. It's essentially a working-class industrial centre – Australia's largest steelworks at nearby Port Kembla looms unattractively over Wollongong City Beach – but the Illawarra Escarpment, rising dramatically beyond the city, provides a lush backdrop.
There's not much to see in the city centre itself (concentrated between Wollongong train station and the beach), which has been swallowed up by a giant shopping mall on Crown Street, but if you continue east down Crown Street and cross Marine Drive, you'll hit Wollongong City Beach, a surf beach that stretches over 2km to the south. One of the most pleasant activities is simply wandering along the coastal City Walk which starts at the eastern end of Crown Street and runs 2km north to North Wollongong Beach. The walk passes Flagstaff Point, a grassy headland overlooking the lovely Wollongong Harbour, with its fishing fleet, fish market, seafood restaurants, and a picturesque nineteenth-century lighthouse on the breakwater.