The road is wet and slippery from the fog as I descend from the highlands toward Wollongong. The sun is starting to come and makes the road shiny on this Saturday morning.
Wollongong spreads over a coastal lowland from Albion Park in the south to the sea cliffs near Royal National Park. The green landscape gives way to urban areas that spill into the shallow valleys that run down the sea. Wollongong is Australia’s seventh largest city, with its development based around coal mines, steel works and shipping port.
Originally this region was covered by rainforest from the coastal plain to the escarpment. A search for new pastures brought the early European settlers and led to the establishment of the south coast dairy industry. But it was the discovery of coal seams that attracted the most interest and meant that Wollongong – based on an Aboriginal word for ‘sound of the sea’ – grew into something more than just a small fishing port.
Much of the growth in population in the region happened from the 1950s to 1970s to create a string of suburbs that housed workers for the steel mill as well as Sydney commuters. It is this blend of working class, agricultural and urban landscape, I think, that gives Wollongong its unique atmosphere.
I find my way through the traffic to the University of Wollongong. My destination for today is to attend a writing workshop and I am impressed with the clean, modern look of the uni. I think I could spend the rest of my life just studying at different universities! The workshop today is on ‘Reflective Writing’ and as I park the car I’m looking forward to learning some new skills.
I have half an hour up my sleeve so time for a quick coffee and write a blogpost then off to find the lecture theatre!