By Cindy Lee
Want to escape the “hustle bustle” of Sydney, yet still desire the enjoyment of sunshine and beaches? Why not head south to Wollongong!
Take the F1 and zoom down to just pass Wollongong and turn off at Five Islands Road to visit the Nan Tien temple. The largest Buddhist temple in the Southern Hemisphere, its atmosphere is peaceful and quiet – quite a feat considering it’s not far from the freeway!
Walk through the large grounds which are filled with paths through leafy trees and flowers. Visit the pagoda where you can pay your respects to Buddha, try your hand at Chinese Calligraphy and even make a wish! Stroll on over to the main temple and be inspired by the Buddhist teachings which adorn the walls. Feeling peckish? Make your way to the Dining Hall and for $8 enjoy a large traditional vegetarian meal complete with fruit!
If you wish to have a more complete Buddhist experience, enroll yourself on a retreat and choose to enjoy tai chi, meditation and / or Buddhist teachings.
After a relaxing morning, head into Wollongong for some exercise. Wollongong’s self-guided walking and cycling city tours last 2-3 hours introducing you to the art, history and culture of Wollongong. For beach goers, enjoy the waves and clean sand as you surf, build sand castles and sun bake!
For a more relaxing afternoon, pack a picnic and walk to the heads and stretch out on the lush green cliffs enjoying the ambience of fresh sea air, whilst overlooking the famous Port Kembla Steelworks and views of large container ships which dot the ocean and horizon.
Alternatively, pack the fishing rods (and grab your fishing license) and try your luck at the Wollongong pier. When we went, fishermen were catching large squid and octopi off the side facing the ocean, whilst the little fisherboys and fishergirls were catching small fish on the protected side of the pier.
If you’ve had enough of relaxing and want to give your credit card a workout, head into the centre of town where the large mall provides a variety of retail outlets. Surrounding streets are a Mecca for boutiques, but if you want to look inside avoid Sundays as the owners are out enjoying the weekend! If markets are more your thing, visit the Wollongong markets for bargains on Thursdays or Saturdays.
Hungry? Satisfy your grumbling stomach at one of Wollongong’s many eating establishments. Whether fast food, mod oz, pub grub or a good old steak is what you’re after Wollongong has it all. For steak and chips lovers, I recommend a visit to Wollongong’s Hog’s Breath Café.
Wollongong is a coastal city located just over an hour away from Sydney. The relaxed lifestyle means that shops are open Monday to Saturday, with the larger ones open for business on Sundays too. For stunning coastal views, take the Princess Highway and enjoy a relaxing day in Wollongong!