Community Illawarra Lifestyle

6 Cool Neighbourhoods in the Illawarra: Discover Local Gems

The Illawarra region is famous for its beautiful coastline, but venture a little further and you’ll discover a collection of diverse and fascinating neighbourhoods, each with its own distinct personality. Whether you’re a local looking for a change of scenery or a visitor wanting to delve deeper into the region, these cool Illawarra neighbourhoods offer a refreshing blend of history, culture, nature, and community spirit.

1. Port Kembla: Industrial Grit with a Bohemian, Artistic Edge

  • The vibe: Port Kembla’s industrial heritage is undeniable, but a burgeoning arts scene and a multicultural community are transforming this once gritty suburb into a hub of creativity, arts food and culture and our favourite cool Illawarra neighbourhood right now!
  • Don’t miss: Check out street art by local and international artists, explore the red point arts co-op, dine at funky eateries and listen to local tunes at the Servo. You won’t want to miss taking a dip in the incredible beach at Port Kembla, named the best beach (controversially) by many in the Molenaar x McNeice team!
  • Perfect for: Those who appreciate urban landscapes, the arts, surfers,  and those looking for a diverse atmosphere.



Street Art in Port Kembla

2. Austinmer: Small Coastal Town with Family Focus 

  • The vibe: Austinmer exudes a relaxed, beach-town atmosphere with a strong focus on community.
  • Don’t miss: Take a dip in the rock pool, stroll along the beach, or eat some of the best cafe food in the Illawarra at Moore Street General.
  • Perfect for: Families, surfers and those looking to slow down and relax.

Pristine Coastline Along Austinmer

Gorgeous Headlands Hotel, Photo credit Headlands Hotel

3. Coledale: Where Bush Meets the Beach 

  • The vibe: Coledale offers a unique blend of bushland tranquility and coastal beauty, making it a haven for nature lovers. Yet it has a seriously cool vibe with gorgeous cafes and shops.
  • Don’t miss: Check out local artisanal wares and stalls at the Coledale Markets, on every forth Sunday of the Month at Coledale Public School. Explore the walking trails in the surrounding rainforest, or grab a bite at our favourite Earthwalker & Co Cafe or Rosie’s Fish and Chip Shop.
  • Perfect for: Outdoor enthusiasts, foodies, photographers, and those seeking a peaceful yet vibrant funky coastal escape.



Bird’s Eye View

4. East Corrimal: A Hidden Gem with a Surfy Feel

  • The vibe: Tucked away from the main tourist trail, East Corrimal has a welcoming village atmosphere with a focus on local businesses and community.
  • Don’t miss: Walking along the dog beach and catching a perfect wave or meeting up with friends at Fangerz Cafe and surf shop.
  • Perfect for: Those looking for a local surf break and experience a strong sense of community.

Some of the Best Coffee in Town!

5. Keiraville: University Town with a Youthful Energy 

  • The vibe: Home to the University of Wollongong, Keiraville has a youthful energy with a mix of students, academics, and artists.
  • Don’t miss: Visit the Wollongong Botanic Garden, grab a bite to eat on the Keiraville strip, or catch a gig at the UniBar.
  • Perfect for: Students, families, young professionals, and anyone who enjoys a lively and creative atmosphere.

Photo credit, Illawarra Mercury


6. Mount Kembla: Mountain Village Steeped in History

  • The vibe: Mount Kembla is a picturesque village nestled in the mountains with a rich mining history and a strong sense of community.
  • Don’t miss: Explore the Mount Kembla Heritage Centre, hike to the Mount Kembla Summit, have an incredible dining experience at Ruby’s Mount Kembla or pop in for a beer at the Heritage Mount Kembla Pub.
  • Perfect for: History buffs, foodies, nature lovers, and those seeking a tranquil mountain retreat.

The Famous Mount Kembla Hotel, Photo credit Mount Kembla Village Hotel


The Best Food in the Illawarra


If you’d like to know more about our local community, check out more cool Illawarra neighbourhoods in our suburb profiles here

Jordy Woolley
dynamic | innovate | style Jordy’s journey at Molenaar and McNeice epitomises the spirit of innovation. She first joined us as an experienced property manager where she hit the ground running with her fierce drive to redefine what property management can look like. Less than 12 month...View Profile ›
Molenaar x McNeice
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