Celebrate summer! Fun in the sun in the Gong!

Our guide to fab and cheap (or even better – free!) local family entertainment

Keeping the family entertained over the summer holidays can be exhausting – and expensive! If you’ve got kids, you’ll be familiar with the stress of constant requests for outings and treats throughout the holidays, and know how much of a drain this can be on your cash. Even if you don’t have a young family, you’ll know that the warm summer weather usually means getting out and socialising with friends and family, which can often be expensive. And if you’re unemployed, a student or struggling to get by on benefits or a low income, coming up with ways to get out and about and stay entertained without blowing all of your cash can be a battle.

Here’s our top tips for some fun and budget friendly ways to get out and celebrate summer in the Wollongong area, without needing to spend much of your precious cash!

Hit the beach!

We sometimes forget how lucky we are to live along one of the most stunning stretches of coastline in the world. Celebrate our beautiful beaches – grab your sunscreen and towel and hit the sand and surf at your favourite spot. Pack some cold drinks and snacks in the Esky, and your day out needn’t cost you a cent. A sure fire way to get you in touch with what summer in our beautiful part of the world is all about – and to wear the kids out with a day of fun in the sun!

Get back to nature

Sometimes it’s nice to turn off your phone and reconnect with yourself or your family as you potter about in nature’s wonderland. Enjoy the area’s beautiful rock pools, lookouts, and National Parks. Go for a walk through the rainforest, watch the hang gliders from Bald Hill Lookout, or pack a picnic and take in the stunning scenery from one of our many beautiful lookout points. The options are endless, and limited only by your imagination. And best of all, it won’t cost you a cent!

Hit the markets

You don’t need a pocketful of cash to enjoy the fun, vibrant atmosphere of the local markets. They’re a great way to get out and about in the sunshine, and soak up the talents and wares of those in our local community. Check out the Warrawong Markets every Saturday from 7am to 1pm, by the lake on Northcliffe Drive. As well as all the wonderful stalls, food and drink, there’s entertainment including buskers and jumping castles. On Sundays, head to the Dapto Showground Markets from 7am to 1pm – one of the largest and most popular markets on the South Coast of NSW.

Hungry? Dine al fresco without breaking the bank!

Enjoy those balmy summer evenings by eating out under the stars. Every Thursday night from 5pm – 9pm, Wollongong’s Crown Street Mall comes alive with the international fun and flavours of the Eat Street food market. Bring the family or arrange to meet your mates, have a wander and enjoy the vibe of good food, music and fun!

Another fun food market option this summer is the Twilight Food Markets of the World at Wollongong’s picturesque Flagstaff Hill. Bring a picnic blanket, enjoy some music and savour the flavours of international foods at one of Wollongong’s favourite spots. Italian pizzas, falafel rolls, curries, Dutch pancakes and gozleme are just some of the tempting bites on the menu.

Enjoy the Great Outdoors at Wollongong’s Botanic Garden

Wollongong’s beautiful Botanic Gardens have something for everyone! As well as walks and talks (including historical and ghost talks!), there’s plants, wildlife, a playground and lots of space for picnics and fun. Visit this hidden gem with family and friends for a fun, free and beautiful day out.

Get jazzy this Australia Day (for free!)

If you’re in Kiama this Australia Day, you can celebrate in style with a fabulous free twilight jazz and blues concert in Hindmarsh Park. Bring your family, friends and a picnic, and groove the night away without spending a cent!

Love Summer? Visit the Summer Love exhibition

Also in Kiama, art lovers will adore this celebration of summer on the South Coast. Visit Nicole Grimm-Hewitt’s ‘Summer Love’ exhibition at the Old Kiama Fire Station from 27 January to 1 February.

Treat yourself to a night out under the stars

If you have some cash set aside and can afford to splurge a little on a special outing, check out the Sunset Cinema in Wollongong’s Botanic Garden. Tickets are $20 for adults ($17 concession) and $13 for kids, and while there’s food and drinks for sale, you can keep the cost down by packing your own picnic. A guaranteed fun night out! You can check out the program here.

Escape the heat with your little ones

For those really hot days where you need some cool indoor entertainment for your little ones, check out the awesome free kids activities hosted by Wollongong City Libraries. With programs for babies through to teens, there’s something for everyone, and best of all – it’s free!

Creative kids

Wondering how to keep the kids happy in the afternoon after school goes back? Check out the free Arty Crafty Cooky Kids program for ages 5 – 12. Held at the Albion Park Rail Neighbourhood Centre on Monday and Wednesdays from 3:30 – 5:30pm, these sessions are a great (and free!) way for the kids to exercise the creativity. Bookings are essential, so get in early!