On the Pacific Ocean coast 50 miles south of Sydney, Wollongong is a major business, culture, and industrial center in its part of New South Wales. It’s a large seaside city and an important spot for both industry and fishing. Behind it is a high ridge of sandstone known as the Illawarra Escarpment, which contains one peak with the wonderful Australian name of Broker’s Nose. A large lake, Illawarra Lake, also is close by and varies the options for outdoor pursuits. With the well-respected University of Wollongong and Wollongong Symphony Orchestra, the city is acculturated and Wollongong MICE venues can be lively.
Illawarra Regional Airport, 11 miles southwest of downtown Wollongong, is only for civil aircraft, so everyone has to go via Sydney. Just south of Sydney and 50 miles north of Wollongong, Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport (SYD) has service internationally to most parts of the world, including North America and Europe.
Chief among convention venues in Wollongong is the WIN Entertainment Centre, which has, among other spaces, a 15,000-square-foot auditorium for up to 6,000 persons and The Grandstand, with room for up to 3,000 persons or (900 seated for dinner).
For a city with a population of 300,000, there are not so many hotels. That said, MICE hotels in Wollongong include the 204-room Novotel Wollongong Northbeach, which has 14 meeting rooms; the 168-room Chifley Hotel Wollongong, which has 12 meeting and function rooms, as well as a ballroom for up to 500 persons; the 107-room Wollongong Surf Leisure Resort, which has pleasant but motel-style chalet accommodations and a conference center for up to 500 persons; the 51-room Best Western Wollongong, which has two meeting rooms (the largest hosting up to 80 persons); and the Best Western City Sands, which despite only having 20 rooms, has them sitting beside a links-style, 18-hole golf course and a conference center for up to 150 persons.
Unique MICE venues in Wollongong include The Seacliff, which has a restaurant and a function venue containing the Diamond and Pearl rooms that together can host 290 persons. Wollongong Botanic Gardens, a wonderful area of numerous gardens that started life in the 1950s, has such spaces for events as a Japanese teahouse, an amphitheater, lawns, and a discovery center, among others. There’s the fascinating Wollongong City Surf Life Saving Club, where guests can learn about Australia’s famed ocean lifesaving patrols and where 140 persons can meet for functions. In the Kembla area of the city, the Australian Motorlife Museum has numerous old and wonderful cars and space for events of up to 80 persons. Finally, the Nan Tien Temple and Pilgrim Lodge, which is the large Buddhist temple in the Southern Hemisphere, offers retreats from the harshness of the world, and has space for functions of up to 330 persons.
Culinary options in the city perfect for groups include Lagoon Restaurant (where Fairy Creek Lagoon joins the Pacific Ocean), which has four private dining rooms, each of which has its own terrace and floor-to-ceiling glass doors that open fully, for up to 300 persons. Another waterside venue, Harbourfront, has a seafood restaurant, four function rooms, two of which have their own bars, and terraces. Shellharbour Club can fit a massive 1,000 persons and has three restaurants; and Jasmine Rice Thai Restaurant, which has two branches both able to look after groups. Windjammers, which is in the Novotel Wollongong Northbeach, as is the wonderful, also-for-hire Beach Bar.