Looking for a unique day trip away from Australia’s usual tourist trail? Just over an hour away from the hype of Sydney, Wollongong is Australia’s tenth biggest city and a hub of local street art. Sharing a similar history to its northern sister city, Newcastle, Wollongong has its roots in industry, but is now giving way to a small bar and restaurant scene, as well as a local art community with its own annual art festival, Wonderwalls. Here’s a step-by-step guide to finding all the artwork Wollongong has to offer, sampling the best of the area’s food and drink along the way.
Visitors arriving into Wollongong by train will spy their first glimpse of street art as they walk up the ramp from railway station, which is adorned with five works. Take a right to arrive at Lettuce B Frank wholefoods cafe, a perfect place to grab a refreshment outside, with goodies to please everyone, from strict vegans to paleo carnivores.
Next, walk a few metres down the road and duck into the driveway of Dicey Riley’s pub to find the wonderful Photo Opportunity Collection murals, before heading to Auburn Street. Here you’ll find more works, including two standout pieces named Welcome Pelicans and Green Gecko.
A cluster of artwork borders McCabe Park on Keira Street, including an unofficial set of practice walls where, depending on the time of day, you may even find an artist at work.
Walking up to the Crown Street Mall, there are a lot of murals crammed into a small area.
Firstly, on Burelli St, you’ll find Fever, an abstract riot of colour, as well as the bold Koalas by local street artist Smug. Turn left to find murals by well-known artists Mikey Freedom and John Kaye, or walk through to the Crown Street Mall, for smaller-scale pieces on the garden walls.
Visit on a Thursday and you can check out the Eat Street Market, which is open from 5pm to 9pm. The entrance is very unassuming and easy to miss, so keep your eyes peeled and you’ll find yourself in the midst of plenty of food trucks and music. While you’re there, make sure not to miss the market’s biggest artwork entitled Harmonica Player, which can be found on the side of the flyover.
Once you’re finished in the Mall, turn back onto Keira Street and head north, before turning left into Market Street and then into the carpark entrance. Here, you will find two of the city’s largest murals, named Man with a Magpie and Life. There are several works in this car park on various levels. If you walk towards the pedestrian access, you’ll find a dot painting entitled Dearly Departed; and a long wall of cartoons, stretching for 20m (66ft). From here, head over to Bull and Bear, a cafe and tapas restaurant which commissioned its very own piece.
The northern end of town is awash with restaurants including fine-dining establishment Caveau. Tucked away in the alcoves between the buildings you’ll discover four more murals, including favourites such as the Woman with Red Lips by Rone. Continue heading south from here, to find the quirky, cheap and cheerful eatery Ziggy’s House of Nomms, worth stopping at just for their Cheese McBurger Dumplings.
Make a very quick foray into Crown Lane to see a mural named Mexican Jaguar, before walking to Pig Alley, near Wollongong Mall, for artworks commissioned by the local council and painted onto metal panels. For the ambitious visitor, more far-flung works can be found on Stewart Street, including two pieces entitled Predators and Crowned Emu, and on Moore Lane, which is home to three artworks named Yam Fam, Steel City and the Glowing Cicadas.
Finally, head over to view the many artworks in the east of the city, where Wollongong Art Gallery on Burelli Street is well worth a visit for some more classical paintings. Alternatively, there are murals inside The Icon, one of Wollongong’s newest bars and casual dining options, where you can stop for a well-earned drink before heading to the railway station for a sleepy ride back to Sydney.