Wollongong, informally referred to as "The Gong", is a seaside city located in the Illawarra region of New South Wales, Australia. Wollongong lies on the narrow coastal strip between the Illawarra Escarpment and the Pacific Ocean, 82 kilometres (51 miles) south of Sydney. Wollongong had an estimated urban population of 295,842 at June 2016, making it the third largest city in New South Wales after Sydney and Newcastle, and the tenth largest city in Australia.
The Wollongong metropolitan area extends from Helensburgh in the north to Shell Cove in the south. It sits within the Wollongong Statistical District, which covers the local authority areas of Wollongong, Shellharbour and Kiama, extending from the town of Helensburgh in the north to Gerroa in the south Geologically, the city is located in the south-eastern part of the Sydney basin, which extends from Newcastle to Nowra.
Wollongong is noted for its heavy industry, its port activity and the quality of its physical setting, occupying a narrow coastal plain between an almost continuous chain of surf beaches and the cliffline of the rainforest-covered Illawarra escarpment. It has two cathedrals, churches of many denominations and the Nan Tien Temple, the largest Buddhist temple in the southern hemisphere. Wollongong has a long history of coalmining and industry. The city attracts many tourists each year, and is a regional centre for the South Coast fishing industry. The University of Wollongong has around 37,000 students and is internationally recognised.
The name "Wollongong" is believed to mean "seas of the South" in the local Aboriginal language, referring to NSW's Southern Coast. Other meanings have been suggested, such as "great feast of fish", "hard ground near water", "song of the sea", "sound of the waves", "many snakes" and "five islands".