AskDefine | Define illawarra

Extensive Definition

The Illawarra is a region in the Australian state of New South Wales. It is a coastal region situated immediately south of Sydney and north of the Shoalhaven region, encompassing the cities of Wollongong and Shellharbour and the municipality of Kiama. The central region contains Lake Illawarra.
The word Illawarra probably means "high place near the sea" in the local Aboriginal language. The region consists of a coastal plain, narrow in the north and wider in the south, bounded by the Pacific Ocean on the east and a mountainous, almost impassable escarpment forming the eastern edge of the Southern Highlands plateau, to the west. In the middle of the region is Lake Illawarra, a shallow lake formed when sediment built up at the entrance to a bay. The district extends from the southern hills of the Royal National Park in the north to the Shoalhaven River in the south, and contains the city of Wollongong, the third largest urban area in New South Wales. North of Wollongong the plain narrows to a small strip of land between the coast and the escarpment. At Coalcliff and Stanwell Park small valleys are formed allowing further settlement. To the south it widens, and becomes increasingly hillier before reaching Stockyard Mountain, a long divide between the main plain and the Jamberoo Valley, which stretches until it reaches Kiama. South of Kiama is Saddleback Mountain and south of that the Shoalhaven plains and the outcrop of Coolangatta Mountain.
The main industries in the area have traditionally been farming, coal mining and steel making. Australia's largest steel works, BlueScope Steel is located at Port Kembla. The area, especially around Port Kembla and Wollongong was once known for its mainly industrial jobs, but since the 1990s commerce has played an increasing role in the city, overtaking industry in many areas.
The Illawarra region is linked to Sydney by several passes and a motorway (Southern Freeway) and electric railway (see South Coast railway line); to the west by the Illawarra Highway and Picton Road; and to the south by the Princes Highway. At Albion Park the Illawarra Regional Airport serves the region.
The Illawarra is administered by four councils: Wollongong City Council, Shellharbour City Council, Kiama Council and partly the Shoalhaven City Council.
  • Wollongong council is the northernmost council, ranging from Helensburgh to Lake Illawarra, with northernmost coastal suburb Stanwell Park and southernmost suburbs including Windang, Yallah and Haywards Bay.
  • The Shellharbour council is south of Wollongong, and ranges from the southern shores of Lake Illawarra, west to the escarpment, and south to the Minnamurra River.
  • The Kiama LGA's (local government area) northern border is the Minnamurra River and covers all the area to about 4 km south of Gerroa.
  • The Shoalhaven City Council covers the southernmost reaches of the Illawarra, and further south to Ulladulla.


The Illawarra area currently has a population of 409,734 (as of 2004)


The Illawarra Steelers Rugby League Football Club played in the NSWRL football competition, then the NRL, from 1982 to 1998, and currently forms one half of the St George Illawarra Dragons joint venture. They are the premier sports side in the Illawarra and many famous footballers, such as Bob Fulton, Graeme Langlands, Mick Cronin, Rod Wishart, Paul McGregor, Craig Fitzgibbon and Luke Bailey have come from the Illawarra region. The Illawarriors rugby union club contest the Shute Shield.
The Wollongong Hawks have represented the region (previously known as the Illawarra Hawks) since the foundation year of the NBL, 1979.
The Wollongong Wolves participated in the now defunct NSL, winning back to back premierships in 2000 and 2001. The region may have an A-League as early as 2009, with a group known as Great Southern Football organising a bid for entry into the expanded competition. The consortium currently have sponsorship backing totaling $4.5 million a year (if successful).


External links

illawarra in German: Illawarra
illawarra in French: Illawarra
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