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New South Wales


Community, Business and Visitor Guide

Illawarra Local History

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Illawarra is a region situated on the east coast of New South Wales, Australia. It stretches from the southern suburbs of Sydney to the Shoalhaven River in the south. The region is characterized by a stunning natural environment that includes rugged coastline, rolling hills, pristine beaches, and lush forests. The history of this region is as diverse as its landscape, and it is rich in culture, tradition, and heritage. The Indigenous History of Illawarra The Wodi Wodi people were the traditional custodians of the lands that make up the Illawarra region. They were hunters and gatherers and had a deep connection to the land, which they believed was the source of their sustenance and spiritual wellbeing. The Wodi Wodi people lived in harmony with the land and were skilled at navigating the rugged terrain of Illawarra. They had a rich culture, which included storytelling, song, dance, and art. The Colonial History of Illawarra The European arrival in Illawarra was marked by the exploration of the region by colonial military and survey parties in 1796. Illawarra was officially declared a town in 1825, and European settlement began to spread rapidly. The region's rich agricultural land and natural resources, such as timber, coal, and fish, attracted many settlers, who established farms, wharves, and towns. In the early days of colonial settlement, Illawarra was a remote and isolated region. The only means of transport was by sea, and many settlers relied on the coastal steamers to transport their goods and produce to Sydney. The region's early industries were focused on timber, fishing, and agriculture, and many established large estates and dairy farms. By the mid-19th century, coal mining became a significant industry in the region, with several mines opening up near Coalcliff, Mount Kembla, and Bulli. Illawarra in the 20th Century The early 20th century saw Illawarra undergo significant development and transformation. The construction of the Grand Pacific Drive, a scenic coastal road that winds its way through the Illawarra escarpment, opened up the region to tourism and trade. The region's beaches and natural beauty became a drawcard for holidaymakers, and several seaside towns, such as Thirroul, Wollongong, and Kiama, flourished. The post-war period marked a period of rapid industrialization in Illawarra. Several large manufacturing plants, including the Port Kembla Steelworks, were established, providing employment and economic prosperity to the region. The expansion of the Illawarra Regional Airport in Albion Park Rail allowed for greater transport connections for both people and goods. Illawarra Today Today, the Illawarra region is a vibrant and diverse community that continues to thrive on its natural and cultural heritage. The region's economic base has diversified beyond traditional industries, and today it is home to numerous businesses in areas such as finance, healthcare, education, and technology. The region's cultural and artistic scene is also thriving, with the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre, Wollongong Art Gallery, and a calendar of festivals, exhibitions, and performances. The Illawarra region is also home to a diverse and multicultural population, hailing from all corners of the world. The region's hospitality sector, including restaurants, cafes, and bars, reflects its multicultural character, offering a diverse range of cuisines and dining experiences. Conclusion Illawarra is a region with a rich and fascinating history that spans thousands of years. From its Indigenous heritage to its colonial and industrial past, the region has undergone significant changes over time. Today, Illawarra remains a region of great natural beauty and cultural importance, with a thriving economy and a diverse and welcoming community. Its history and heritage continue to shape its identity and make it a unique and special place to call home.

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