Within the eastern state of New South Wales (or NSW) is the seaside city of Wollongong. Cruise along until you reach a suburb of "The Gong" – the bustling Port Kembla, Australia. Not only is this a seaport, but also an industrial complex and nature reserve. The Aboriginal "Kembla" (meaning "plenty wildfowl") actually stuck, despite Europeans making their mark on the area, including Captain James Cook in 1770. Even before it was a suburb of Wollongong, Port Kembla had a growing commercial center; copper smelting in the early 20th century expanded the economy even further, as did the exporting of coal. By the 1950s, immigrants began to arrive; today, Port Kembla is one of NSW's most culturally diverse towns. This is also a town that loves sports, with no fewer than five different rugby, cricket, and soccer clubs. Here are some of our favorite experiences when cruising to Port Kembla, Australia:
- Military history buffs: A memorial in the park in front of the currently closed Port Kembla RSL Club has a granite plinth notating conflicts in which Australian soldiers fought. There's also a German field gun that was obtained during World War I, along with other commemorative plaques on the walls and pavement.
- The protected Five Islands Nature Reserve is made up of five continental islands (and rocks around 250 million years old); the park is significant for biological and Aboriginal heritage values. It's especially important for seabird research, including species such as the little penguin, short-tailed shearwater, silver gull, and Australian pelican.
- The award-winning Port Kembla Beach on Olympic Boulevard is patrolled from September to April, and is popular among tourists for its cleanliness and sea life; there's also a pool if wary of swimming in the ocean. The café offers food as well as a great cup of coffee.
- The Buddhist Nan Tien Temple is about 4 miles from town and is a fascinating look at the area's religious beliefs. One of the largest in the southern hemisphere, it's relatively new: Built in 1995, it was created using traditional Chinese techniques. Don't miss the architecturally superb eight-level high pagoda.