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Wollongong is an industrial city located on the eastern coast of Australia in the state of New South Wales. It is 82km south of Sydney by rail in a part of the NSW South Coast known as the Illawarra[?]. The name Wollongong is of Aboriginal origin and is said to mean "sound of the sea".

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Geography of Wollongong

The City of Wollongong has a distinct geography. It lies on a narrow coastal plain flanked by the Tasman Sea to the east and a steep sandstone precipice known as the Illawarra Escarpment to the west. The coastal plain is widest in the south and narrowest in the north—to the north of Wollongong it becomes so narrow that the coastal road precariously hugs a cliffline and the Illawarra Railway must go through several tunnels to reach the Sydney metropolitan area. The Escarpment ranges between 500 and 2,500 feet above sea level, with locally famous mountains such as Mount Keira, Mount Kembla, Broker's Nose and Mount Murray. The Escarpment contains strata of coal measures, and the adit entrances to many coal mines have been established along the slopes of the Escarpment right throughout Wollongong. The plain itself is traversed by several short but flood-prone and fast-flowing streams and creeks such as Para Creek, Allans Creek and Mullet Creek. These plains consist of highly fertile alluvium, which made Wollongong so attractive to agriculturalists in the nineteenth century. The coastline itself consists of many beaches characterised by fine pale gold-coloured sands; however, these beaches are sometimes interrupted by prominent and rocky headlands jutting into the sea. A large coastal saltwater lagoon called Lake Illawarra[?] is in the southern part of the city, separated from the Tasman Sea by a long sandy spit. Just to the north of the lake is Port Kembla[?], a natural harbour that has been considerably expanded by human-made excavation and reclamation works.

History of Wollongong

The area was originally inhabited by the Dharwal Aborigines. The first Europeans to visit the area were the navigators George Bass[?] and Matthew Flinders who landed in Lake Illawarra in 1796. The first settlers in the region were cedar cutters in the early nineteenth century, followed by graziers in 1812. Charles Throsby established a stockman's hut in the area in 1815. The first land grants were made in 1816. Further settlers arrived and in 1834 a town was planned. A road down the Escarpment through Bulli Pass was built by convict labour in 1835-6. By 1856 Wollongong had a population of 864. The Illawarra Railway to Wollongong was completed in 1887, and now continues as far south as the the town of Bomaderry[?] on the Shoalhaven River.

The navigator George Bass first documented the Illawarra coal deposits in 1797. There have been many coalmines in the district. Australia's worst coal mining disaster occurred in 1902, at the Mount Kiera mine when an explosion killed 96 men.

Heavy industry was attracted to the region by the ready availability of coal. In 1928 Hoskins, later Australian Iron & Steel, started a steelworks at Port Kembla, a few kilometres south of Wollongong. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company (BHP) acquired AI&S in 1935 and the steelworks has grown to become a world-class flat rolled steel producer. The company, now known as BHP Steel, operates a fully integrated steel plant with a production of around 5 million tones per year. Other industries to have set up in the massive Port Kembla industrial complex—the largest single concentration of heavy industry in Australia—include a fertiliser plant, an electrolytic copper smelter (featuring the tallest chimney in Australia), a locomotive workshop, a coal export shipping terminal, a grain export shipping terminal and an industrial gases manufacturing plant.

Despite the decline of traditional manufacturing and blue-collar industries due to the abandonment of protectionist economic policies in the 1980s, many of these industrial installationa still exist. This has not stopped Wollongong having the unenviable distinction of one of Australia's highest unemployment rates and rates of drug dependency. The city's economy is, however, on the rebound, thanks to diversification of economic activity including higher education, the fine arts, tourism, residential construction and eco-friendly electricity generation.

The Municipality of Wollongong was founded in the late nineteenth century. It was incorporated as the City of Wollongong in 1942. The State Government forcibly amalgamated the City of Wollongong with the Municipality of Northern Illawarra, the Shire of Bulli and the Shire of Central Illawarra to form the City of Greater Wollongong in 1947. Its name has reverted to being simply the City of Wollongong. Its motto is "Urbs Inter Mare Montemque"—"City Between The Mountains And The Sea". Its corporate slogan is "City of Innovation".

Demography of Wollongong

In 2001 the city of Wollongong had a population of 181,612. The surrounding urban area including the City of Wollongong, City of Shellharbour and Municipality of Kiama comprise a metropolitan area population of 257,510.

Wollongong is noted for its high proportion of residents with Mediterranean ancestries from countries such as Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Italy, Greece and Turkey who migrated to Australia due to acute labour shortages and accelerating industrialisation in the boom period after World War Two.

More recently, Wollongong has become an attractive destination for new residents moving from Sydney to escape inflated real estate prices, environmental degradation, traffic congestion and high crime in Australia's largest city. Wollongong's cheaper real estate, combined with efficient transport links to Sydney via the Illawarra Railway and the F6 Southern Freeway, have seen many young families move to new subdivisions in Wollongong while retaining jobs in Sydney.

Wollongong has one university, the University of Wollongong[?], which was formerly part of the University of New South Wales, and the Illawarra Institute of Technology, part of the State's system of TAFE college. These educational facilities have also seen many Sydneysiders move to Wollongong, along with international students from Asia and North America.

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