Wollongong will join Sydney, Newcastle and Eden as a NSW cruise ship port when Royal Caribbean International’s (RCI) Radiance of the Seas docks in Port Kembla on October 30.
Gavin Smith, RCI senior vice-president, was in Wollongong in late July to promote the line’s arrival.
Presently the Port Kembla site will be used as a destination port, however Wollongong Tourism general manager Mark Sleigh is keen to explore avenues for making the port a turnaround site, thus attracting travellers embarking and disembarking.
Mr Sleigh says cruisers spending a port day in the Wollongong region would spend an average of between $160 and $220 per day. If Port Kembla became a turnaround site that figure would rise to between $450 and $760.
Colourfully dressed volunteers will be on hand to welcome passengers on October 30.
Here are five things to do on a shore excursion in Wollongong:
Nan Tien Temple
The Fo Guang Shan Buddhist order was founded in Taiwan in 1967 by Venerable Master Hsing Yun. The once-small monastery atop a mountain of bamboo forest is now the largest Buddhist monastery in Taiwan. Fo Guang Shan now has over 200 branches worldwide, including Nan Tien Temple, which aims to play a role in bridging Eastern and Western cultures. The Temple has adopted the Chinese palace building style, merging the traditional with the modern. The Main Shrine has 5 large serene Buddhas surrounded by 10,000 smaller Buddhas. Tours and vegetarian meals available. About 8km from Port Kembla.
The Botanic Garden was opened to the public in 1971. Enjoy a leisurely stroll while viewing the Edible Herb Garden, Rose Garden, Sandstone Garden, Sir Joseph Banks Glasshouse and The Australian Open Forest and Grasslands, among others. There is a playground for kids aged two to 12 with a sandpit, slippery dip, climbing net, viewing platform and a maze. About 12km from Port Kembla;
If you want to get into the water rather than just watch it drift by, consider a shore excursion to Jamberoo water park. Rides include The Funnel Web, Surf Hill, The Rock and The Taipan. There is also mini golf, a range of rides for younger children and dining options. Jamberoo will be open on October 30 on Radiance of the Seas‘ arrival. About 23km from Port Kembla.
The Wollongong coastline is dotted with rock pools, ocean baths, sand bars and sheltered beaches. A stroll along one of Wollongong’s lovely beaches costs nothing and is ideal if time is short. There are a number of beaches including Austinmer, Bellambi and Wolli, though the most popular are Wollongong and North Wollongong. If you have the time surf schools conduct lessons.
Wollongong’s gallery features Australian, Aboriginal and Asian art. Artists whose work is displayed include Arthur Streeton, Grace Cossington Smith, Margaret Olley and Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri. Among the Asian collection are two pairs of Chinese Ming style huang huali horseshoe armchairs, a pair of matching Chinese Qing Dynasty’s Zhu’tan cabinets with dragon designs, and decorated bowls, dishes, and lidded boxes in the traditional Japanese Imari style. Open Tues-Fri 10am-5pm and Weekends 12-4pm.