Wollongong Stories

Everyone has a story. Listen to the memories of local residents as they recount their experiences of living in the Wollongong region.

Click on the residents’ names or photos for more information and to listen to their stories.

Wollongong Botanic Garden Icon

Wollongong Botanic Garden

The Wollongong Botanic Garden was officially opened to the public in January 1971. It provides a place for people to enjoy nature and also plays an important role in the conservation of local plants.

Access the Wollongong Botanic Garden stories here.


Ron Mather Icon

Ron Mather

Ron has worked as a carpenter and TAFE teacher and has volunteered for many organisations, most recently the Old Boy’s Club at Wollongong Library.

Listen to Ron’s story here.


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Sharyn Mackenzie
Sharyn Mackenzie shares her involvement in founding the SCARF organisation to assist Refugees in the Wollongong area.

Listen to Sharyn’s story here.


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Bill Lever
Bill migrated from the Netherlands when he was 17 years old, in 1953 and after working in local industries is part of his family’s iconic art supply and picture framing business.
Listen to Bill’s story here.


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Deidre Armstrong

Deidre has been involved in the local arts community as an educator and networker over many years contributing to the area’s development as a cultural centre.

Listen to Deidre’s story here.

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Chris Cartledge
Chris grew up in Fairy Meadow and had ten different jobs in the 1950s while he was still at school. He became a Telecommunications Technician with the PMG (Post Master General) and has volunteered in many local community groups.

Listen to Chris’s story here.

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Marie Glass canva portrait

Marie Glass
Marie Glass (nee Miller) grew up in central Wollongong and later worked in Wollongong City Libraries from 1948-1955.

Listen to Marie’s story here.


Illawarra Stories - Profile Image template

Les Dion

Les Dion is the second generation of the Dion Family to run the Dion’s Bus Company in Wollongong. He speaks of his life growing up in the Wollongong area and the history of the Dion’s Bus Service.

Listen to Les’ story here.


Kevin Gillis

Kevin has lived in the Illawarra all his life. He has been involved in small business and community service including preserving the heritage of the area. He works creatively in wood.

Listen to Kevin’s story here.


Don Stuart icon

Don Stuart

Don grew up in central Wollongong and remembers life there as a child. He has run an antique shop in Thirroul then Bulli for over thirty years.

Listen to Don’s story here.


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Mount Keira Mine Tramways Project

On 24 September and 1 October 1998, Richard Raxworthy interviewed several people about the Mount Keira Mine Tramway.

Listen to the Mount Keira Mine Tramways Project stories here

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Pamela Griffith

Pamela Griffith is an artist whose ancestors lived in the Wollongong area.

Listen to Pamela’s story here.


Barbara Street

Barbara Street shares detailed experiences of her childhood in Wollongong and of growing up in the area and details of her voluntary work in the Illawarra, running with the Olympic Torch and receiving her Order of Australia Medal.

Listen to Barbara’s story here.

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John Street

John Street shares information about his life growing up in East Corrimal as well as facts regarding his Uncle Edwin (Ted) Street’s life and the Street’s Ice Cream Factory in Corrimal.

Listen to John’s story here.


Ken Geary

Ken Geary has spent most of his life in Wollongong and shares great information about the city of yesteryear, naming shops and their owners, along with memories of how people lived.

Listen to Ken’s story here.


Sam St Jon

The ‘Together Apart’ Public Art Project is a photographic and story exhibition created by artist Sam St Jon documenting the resilience of Illawarra’s community and shared experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Listen to Sam’s story here.


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Rowan Huxtable

Rowan Huxtable has worked for BHP and is active in environmental and community groups.

Listen to Rowan’s story here.


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Helen Cavenagh
Wollongong City Libraries

Helen Cavenagh worked at Wollongong City Libraries from 1964. She was employed in extension services, including the bookmobile.

Listen to Helen’s story here.


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Marjorie (Midge) Allan
Wollongong City Libraries

Midge Allan worked at Wollongong City Libraries from 1955. She was employed at Wollongong Library and a number of branch libraries, in addition to the bookmobile.

Listen to Midge’s story here.


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Daniel Lysaght

Daniel Lysaght grew up in Mangerton in the house known as “Hightrees”. His father Charles was the general manager of John Lysaght (Australia) Pty Ltd for many years.

Listen to Daniel’s story here.


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Norma Todd

Norma Todd travelled widely but always returned to Wollongong.

Listen to Norma’s story here.


Steve Caskey Icon

Steve Caskey

Steve is a long-term resident. He talks about his life growing up and working in the Illawarra.

Listen to Steve’s story here.


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Ed Vormister

Ed was an electrician with Wollongong City Council, a film projectionist, an activist for the preservation of Wiseman Park, and a fundraiser for the cancer treatment centre at Wollongong Hospital.

Listen to Ed’s story here.


Mary Rose Liverani Profile Portrait

Mary Rose Liverani

Mary Rose was born in Glasgow and migrated to Australia with her family in 1952 when she was thirteen. She wrote the award winning book “The Winter Sparrows” about her childhood experiences.

Listen to Mary Rose’s story here.

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Mary Walters Portrait

Mary Walters

Mary is a daughter of Sid and Madge Hoskins, who built the “Gleniffer Brae” residence in Keiraville, where she lived with her family from 1938 to 1945. Her father established the Australian Iron and Steel works at Port Kembla.

Listen to Mary’s story here.


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Sylvia Leighton

Sylvia grew up at Tarrawanna and worked as a nurse in Wollongong.

Listen to Sylvia’s story here.


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Ron Knowles

Ron grew up in Wollongong in the 1950s and has many memories of places, people and their way of life.

Listen to Ron’s story here.


Jack Hyland Portrait

Jack Hyland

Jack has colourful memories of the Wollongong area as a child and student, working through his school years and socialising locally.

Listen to Jack’s story here.


Edith Robertson - Headshot

Edith Robertson

Edith has lived in the same house all her life and worked locally in the textile industry. She spent many years as a machinist at Hardie Rubber Factory and at King Gee.

Listen to Edith’s story here.


Elsie Portrait

Elsie Baird

Elsie recalls how the economic depression of the 1920s affected people in the Illawarra and how her father helped those out of work.

Listen to Elsie’s story here.


Ken Portrait

Ken Christophers

Born in 1935, Ken grew up in West Wollongong and recalls stories of his childhood in a close-knit neighbourhood.

Listen to Ken’s story here.


This is an ongoing project and we welcome your contribution. If you are interested in sharing your recollections of Wollongong please contact us.

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