On the very rare occasion that I meet someone new, we normally discuss how we are feeling, how good the weather is and, depending on how the conversation is going, where we live. They normally live in a big metropolis and they love it. I live in the ‘Gong. From there the conversation goes two ways. Either I get awkwardly enthusiastic about how good Wollongong is and how they should move here or I wish them all the best in the big smoke and I go back to getting on the outside of a strong latte. The latter happened recently and as returned to my coffee, six outstanding reasons for being excited about living in Wollongong ambled through my brain.
Whether you believe that university is a place where you can expand your mind and reach your full creative and academic potential or just an excuse to get free cash to sit on the duck pond lawn and eat wedges. There is one undeniable truth about UOW; it has the fiercest concentration of good-looking people this side of Scandinavia. Period.
2. The cost of living
It has been a while since the author has been on the ‘link but when I was on Youth Allowance I was receiving somewhere in the order of $500 per fortnight including rent assistance. Not a fortune but definitely worth getting assaulted in the line at Burelli Street every now and again. Here are a few statistics for you courtesy of the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Living in the postcode of 2500 will cost you an average of $195 per week. Now this includes a pretty broad area and we are talking the median price for a whole house or unit or granny flat. I reckon most of us are paying between around $150 for a slice of share house. Now compare this with say Newtown… they average $310 per week. From what I’ve heard around the traps, studying Newtonians are probably laying down something in the order of $250 a week for something better than a shoebox but certainly not a cat swinger.
Here is a hypothetical scenario to demonstrate the fiscal gulf between the cost of living of Sydney and Wollongong based on the stats above.
Jennifer 22, a hottie studying Media Comm/Law at UOW spends 60% of her Youth Allowance payment on rent which leaves her 100 big ones each week to get excited about retro night at the Izza.
Jane 20, lives in Newtown and after calculating her post rent finances she is left with precisely zero.
By my calculations, just living on Centrelink Jennifer could buy 1485.7 lattes, or 1040 schooners of Coopers Pale or 650 Smirnoff ices per year with the change left over after rent is deducted. She would be sick… but she could do it.
Jane on the other jewellery free hand would be left nothing. To put it simply Jennifer drinks coffees and Jane makes coffees.
3. The ocean
Ever jumped off the balcony of a certain restaurant into the harbour? (not recommended)
Ever made out with your crush in the ocean pools on the way home from town?
Ever been hung over with your crush and cured it with a swim?
Ever gone across a wave on a surfboard?
If you answered yes to any of these questions then you know how boss the big blue is. Luckily for us, The ‘Gong is as close to the ocean as Frank is.
4. The free bus
Never have the letters A and C combined with the number 55 brought so much joy to such a diverse demographic. Everybody from Dwayne the ex-con, Britney the American exchange student, Mercedes and her three children; Jaydon, Raylene and Krystal and you and your landlord have benefitted from the green bus. With a complimentary bleep from the bus driver as you board to make you feel included, the green bus will take you precisely where you need to go within the hours of 7am to 10pm. I enjoy having weird conversations with people on ice, listened to other peoples’ music via their phones loudspeaker and observing people as they choose a seat as they board and then awkwardly move from their first seat as another becomes vacant. The free bus isn’t just a shining example of what public transport should be… it is a cure for boredom. Know why they choose the colour green? The free bus makes people from other towns jealous.
5. In a state of pre-gentrification
Gentrification is the change some towns or suburbs undergo over time. To my mind it can be described as poor, creative, enthusiastic young people living where they can afford so they can do what they want to do. They do it so well that wealthier people who are bored pay big money to get a slice of the fun creative stuff going down and the fun creative people without any money have to move. The gritty share houses close to the beach, acquired by the resource rich get knocked flat and replaced by that white monstrosities on Cliff Road for example. The pioneer cafés/art spaces suddenly competing with slick venues, which pay big dollars for a industrial look. Wollongong is by no means gentrified, grittiness can be found in bucket loads from Cliff to Robsons Roads. But in time, the tendrils of the wealthy will reach Wollongong as they have claimed Newtown, Marrickville and Co. For the moment, “You can’t stop progress” but you can probably bank on the ‘Gong giving us a few good gritty years yet.
6. Proximity to Sydney
Wollongong is a bit more than an hour from Sydney. Some people feel the need to get up there on an occasion to abuse alcohol in another town. Now I would not know what this feels like. But apparently some people get to feeling the need to get out of Wollongong. They describe a sense of claustrophobia, a cramped existence, a desire to walk down the street and not know anyone. To walk around and see the big buildings, be blinded by the city lights and feel like a small piece in the big puzzle that is life. If you are that way inclined you can jump on train and you’ll be up in the big smoke in a jiffy. Conveniently, Cityrail have provided a train to paradise for the bleary eyed at 4.44am from Central Station to get you back in time for a productive day.
And so there you have six reasons why Wollongong shits all over every other town or city in Australia. We might have to save some topics for future rants but after a chat with a former Gonger Yacob Pegleg; here are the honourable mentions.
Plenty of space for vegie patches, chickens and home brew kits.
Caarnnts on motorised push bikes
The North Gong Squid Jigging Association (NGJSA)
Over and out gongers and wannabe gongers x