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.

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.



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.


Edith Robertson - Headshot

Edith Robertson

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

Listen to Edith’s story here.


 William Cooley - headshot Billy Cooley

Billy was born in La Perouse but has family and tribal connections to the South Coast and has lived in Wollongong for many years. He learned traditional fishing practices from his father and has a strong cultural and spiritual connection to the sea.

Listen to Billy’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.


Ron Knowles Profile Portrait NewRon 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.



Illawarra Stories - Profile Image template (8)

Sylvia Leighton

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

Listen to Sylvia’s story here.



Mary Walters Portrait

Mary Walters

Mary is a daughter of Sid and Madge Hoskins, who built the “Glennifer 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.


Mary Rose Liverani Profile PortraitMary 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.

Preview 1:


Preview 2:

Ed Vormister - Profile IconEd 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.


Steve Caskey IconSteve 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.


Norma Todd IconNorma Todd

Norma Todd travelled widely but always returned to Wollongong.

Listen to Norma’s interview here.


Daniel Lysaght IconDaniel 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 interview here.


Marjorie Allan IconMarjorie (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 interview here.


Helen Cavenagh IconHelen 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 interview here.


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

Amplify - smallBe a digital volunteer and help edit the computer generated transcripts of Illawarra Stories interviews using Amplify