Wedged between the Pacific Ocean and Lake Illawarra, Shellharbour is a coastal suburb to the south of Wollongong. The area was inhabited by Indigenous peoples for thousands of years before free settlers began arriving in 1817. Since its founding as a town in 1851, Shellharbour has blossomed into a seaside getaway destination for surfing, fishing and birdwatching.
Things to do in Shellharbour
Railway enthusiasts shouldn’t miss a visit to the Illawarra Light Railway Museum, which preserves Illawarra’s industrial past. Wander between the Yallah Station Building and the Fettlers Shed before poking your head into the Workshop and Locomotive & Carriage Storage Shed where rolling stock is housed. Steam, diesel and miniature train rides are offered throughout the year.
A short drive west of Shellharbour is Macquarie Pass National Park, which protects one of the most southerly stands of subtropical rainforest in Australia. It’s traversed by hiking trails that include the Macquarie Rivulet Track where kingfishers, golden whistlers and dollar birds can be spotted. Admire the picturesque waterfall on the Cascade Falls Walk or photograph the balancing rock on Clover Hill Road.
Keen anglers can cast a fishing line in Lake Illawarra to lure dusky flathead, surf bream and sand sillago while birdwatchers should keep their eyes peeled for cormorants, pelicans and spoonbills. Shellharbour is also renowned for its surfing, with “The Farm” and “Mystics” surf breaks both included in the Killalea National Surfing Reserve. Scuba divers can venture underwater to explore the Bushrangers Bay Aquatic Reserve, which is home to soft corals, tropical fish and marine invertebrates.
Getting around Shellharbour
Shellharbour Airport is a 15-minute drive from the centre of Shellharbour and has flights to Brisbane and Melbourne. Buses connect from Wollongong to Shellharbour and travel throughout the suburb. Renting a car is the most convenient way of exploring the surrounding region.