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Wollongong (pronounced wool-long-gong,) is a seaside city located in the Illawarra region of New South Wales, Australia. It lies on the narrow coastal strip between the Illawarra Escarpment and the Pacific Ocean, 82 kilometres (51 mi) south of Sydney.
The name Wollongong is believed to mean “sound of the sea” in the local Aboriginal language, although other explanations have been offered, such as “great feast of fish”, “hard ground near water”, “song of the sea”, “sound of the waves”, “many snakes” and “five islands”
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Wollongong has 17 seasonally-patrolled local beaches: Stanwell Park, Coalcliff, Austinmer, Thirroul, Sandon Point, Bulli, Woonona, Bellambi, Corrimal, Towradgi, Fairy Meadow, North Wollongong, Wollongong City, Port Kembla and Windang. Surfing, rock fishing, swimming, skimboarding are common activities. The Wollongong to Thirroul Bike Track, a thirteen kilometre Heart Foundation walking/biking pathway which runs northwards adjacent to the Illawarra coastline starting at Wollongong Beach, is frequented by walkers, joggers, skaters and bicycle riders. Bushwalking on nearby Mount Keira and Mount Kembla, and motorbike riding at the Motocross Track on the escarpment west of Wollongong, are also popular activities.
Wollongong has many parks. In the city centre is MacCabe Park, featuring a playground, the local youth centre, a war memorial, community hall, a sculpture called “Nike” and a brick amphitheatre. Lang Park, adjacent to the city beach, has a number of shelters built in the 1950s. These were subject for demolition but were saved by a community vote. Stuart Park, to the coastal north of the city but south of Fairy Lagoon and Puckeys Estate Reserve, is well known as a landing spot for skydivers as well as a place for outdoor recreation and social gatherings. Stuart Park is also distinctive for its Norfolk Island Pines, planted during the North Wollongong tourism boom in the 1920s. J.J.Kelly Park to the south is used by circuses, as well as a protected area of creek leading to the Greenhouse Park north of the Port Kembla Steelworks, containing a revegetated area of once waste and a lookout, as well as the small remnants of Tom Thumb Lagoon, which once stretched north to Swan Street. Beaton Park in Gwynneville is home to Tennis Wollongong and the Leisure Centre with an athletics complex, indoor heated swimming pool, gymnasium and multipurpose sports hall.