Wollongong, New South Wales
|Population||1,410 (2016 census)|
|LGA(s)||City of Wollongong|
Stanwell Park is a picturesque coastal village and northern suburb of Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia. It is the northernmost point of the Illawarra coastal strip and lies south of Sydney's Royal National Park. It is situated in a small valley between Bald Hill to the north, Stanwell Tops to the west and Mount Mitchell to the south. It has two lagoons from the village's two creeks, Stanwell and Hargrave Creeks and a beach running between headlands. Stanwell Park and the surrounding suburbs are colloquially referred to by its postcode 2508.
Stanwell Park was the name given to the farm established on the grant given to Matthew John Gibbons in 1824. He was given most of the area called Little Bulli which included present-day Stanwell Park and Coalcliff. The whole of Northern Illawarra went under the Aboriginal name Bulli. Bulli remains the name of an Illawarra suburb further south of Stanwell Park.
The area was originally inhabited by the Wodiwodi Aboriginal clan of the Tharawal people. It was traversed by 3 shipwrecked sailors in an epic journey of survival along hundreds of miles of coastline until rescued at Wattamolla, north of Stanwell Park. Two of their companions were unable to negotiate the Coal Cliffs where the Sea Cliff Bridge is today, and their remains were found by explorer George Bass, who also reported on the rich coal seam apparent in the cliffs.
Mr Gibbons installed a convict, John Paid, to manage the Stanwell Park farm. Paid however used the out-of-the-way valley as a hideout for a gang of bushrangers he formed. He adopted the name of Wolloo Jack and his gang terrorised the Bargo to Liverpool area until he and others of the gang were sent to the gallows in 1829.
When Governor Lachlan Macquarie visited Stanwell Park in 1822 he remarked that: "On our arrival at the summit of the mountain, we were gratified with a very magnificent bird's eye view of the ocean, the 5 Islands, and of the greater part of the low country of Illawarra ... After feasting our eyes with this grand prospect, we commenced descending the mountain ... The whole face ... is clothed with the largest and finest forest trees I have ever seen in the colony."
The valley continued to attract notable people: Major Sir Thomas Mitchell, one of Australia's best-known explorers built the first house at Stanwell Park; Supreme Court Judge John Fletcher Hargrave later owned and holidayed in the area, his inheritance coming to Lawrence Hargrave, one of the world's most important aviation pioneers of the 1890s in the lead-up to powered man flight. He performed his most important experiments at Stanwell Park. Lawrence Hargrave moved to Hillcrest House, having inherited it from his brother Ralph Hargrave, in 1893. It is on the road up to the Stanwell Park railway station.
One of the village's most famous attractions is the curved railway viaduct over Stanwell Creek Gorge. It was built in the 1910s when problems with the old railway route forced the construction of a new track higher up the mountainside. At 65 m above the creek bed, surrounded by profuse rainforest vegetation and containing an estimated five million bricks, it is the largest railway viaduct in Australia.
In the 1980s a fatal accident occurred on the railway due to cliff erosion.
Now Stanwell, or The Park, is home to about 1400 people, a dormitory suburb for commuters to the nearby cities of Sydney and Wollongong, and a popular tourist destination.
Stanwell Park has a number of heritage-listed sites, including:
In the 2016 Census, there were 1,410 people in Stanwell Park. 80.9% of people were born in Australia and 89.3% of people spoke only English at home. The most common responses for religion were No Religion 38.5%, Catholic 22.5% and Anglican 15.4%.
The village has a small area of shops and an art gallery on Lawrence Hargrave Drive. Bushwalking is possible on several tracks, most notably the Wodi Wodi Track that climbs Mount Mitchell from the station, and a rather degraded track to Stanwell Tops Lookout, also from the station.
Stanwell Park is famous for paragliding and hang gliding activities from Bald Hill down to its beach, which lies nested between high sea cliffs. Rock climbing can be done at Stanwell Tops which offers a view over the village. A feature is the beach with its two lagoons. The Helensburgh-Stanwell Park Surf Life Saving Club (SLSC) offers beach safety and beach activities such as the Nippers on Sundays in summertime. Stanwell Park Arts Theatre, or S.P.A.T (formally Stanwell Park Amateur Theatre) was founded in the early 1970s by Lauren Mitsak, Pam Beckett and others. Joy Weidersatz was the first director. The annual Christmas pantomime is popular, though S.P.A.T puts on all types of shows, including Shakespeare, Satire, musicals, theatre restaurant-style shows, revues, etc.
Stanwell Park is serviced by Stanwell Park railway station on the South Coast railway line. The railway bends around the village and crosses Stanwell Creek on a historic brick viaduct.
Bald Hill, at the apex of Lawrence Hargrave Drive, takes in the views of the Northern Illawarra and the escarpment. Whale watching, when in season, captivates many a Sydney day-tripper. The spot is also a notable location for DX radio communication due to its southern and eastern vistas.
Symbio Wildlife Park is located on Lawrence Hargrave Drive, near the intersection with the Old Princes Highway, at Stanwell Tops. There are over 1000 native, exotic and farmyard animals in all. It has appeared in a Delta Goodrem music video and several television documentaries and is scheduled to appear in the upcoming film Mask 2 . The gardens includes a café, souvenir shop, and free swimming pools and gas barbecues.
Just east of the Symbio Wildlife Gardens, on Lawrence Hargrave Drive, is a turnoff that leads to Sri Venkateswara Hindu Temple. Australia's first Hindu Temple opened on 30 June 1985. It is located in Temple Street on a 2.6 hectare site. This site was chosen because it fitted the Hindu requirements of a peaceful spot, close to water, elevated, in the bush and on virgin soil. Indian architect Janakiramana Sthapati designed the temple, his family have been temple architects since the sixth century.
At Bald Hill is Intabane Mansion, a prominent feature visible from the valley below with a 'witches hat roof', used as an army lookout during World War II. It was originally built in 1917 for the sum of 3000 pounds and became a guest house between the wars.
Another attraction is Kelly's Falls, which includes a viewing platform.
Walking tracks include the Stanwell Tops lookout track which runs from Stanwell Park train station up the hillside to the Peace Garden, where there are historic Aboriginal carvings on the trees, and to the Stanwell Tops Lookout. Another track, the Wodi Wodi, Bullock, or Mount Mitchell Track, leads from the former track down to Stanwell Creek, around the viaduct and up Mount Mitchell, then down to the railway and a carpark on Lawrence Hargrave Drive. On the Wodi Wodi track, an aboriginal drawing of a whale can be seen, as well as several middens. Access to Bald Hill from Stanwell Park is available from a track on Chellow Dene Avenue, leading to the top of the hill.
Throughout its history several notable people either originated or spent much of their life in the village. These people have risen to fame through a variety of avenues.
Lawrence Hargrave, MRAeS, was an Australian engineer, explorer, astronomer, inventor and aeronautical pioneer.
Wollongong, informally referred to as "The Gong", is a 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, 68 kilometres south of central Sydney. Wollongong had an estimated urban population of 302,739 at June 2018, making it the third-largest city in New South Wales after Sydney and Newcastle and the tenth-largest city in Australia by population. The city's current Lord Mayor is Gordon Bradbery AM who was elected in 2018.
Mount Keira is a suburb and mountain in the Illawarra region of New South Wales, Australia.
Thirroul is a northern seaside suburb of the city of Wollongong, Australia. Situated between Austinmer and Bulli, it is approximately 13 kilometres north of Wollongong, and 69 km south of Sydney. It lies between the Pacific Ocean and a section of the Illawarra escarpment known as Lady Fuller Park, adjacent to Bulli Pass Scenic Reserve.
The South Coast railway line is a commuter and goods railway line in New South Wales, Australia. Beginning at the Illawarra Junction, the line primarily services the Illawarra and South Coast regions of New South Wales, and connects Sydney and Bomaderry through Wollongong and Kiama.
Otford is a village in the Otford Valley just 60 km to the south of the Sydney metropolitan area and north of the Illawarra and Wollongong in New South Wales, Australia. Otford is within the local government area of Wollongong City Council.
Stanwell Park railway station is located on the South Coast railway line in New South Wales, Australia. It serves the seaside village of Stanwell Park opening on 23 December 1901, relocating to its current location on 10 October 1920.
The Hacking River is a watercourse that is located in the Southern Sydney region of New South Wales in Australia. For thousands of years traditional owners called the river Deeban, however the colonial settlers renamed the river after Henry Hacking, a British seaman who killed Pemulwuy and was a pilot at Port Jackson in colonial New South Wales.
Bald Hill is a hill on the Illawarra Range, in the state of New South Wales, Australia. With an elevation of approximately 300 metres (980 ft) AMSL, Bald Hill is one of the best known and most popular lookouts in the Illawarra region providing panoramic vistas across the Illawarra escarpment and over the Illawarra plain and the Tasman Sea of the South Pacific Ocean.
The Illawarra escarpment, or officially the Illawarra Range, is the fold-created cliffs and plateau-eroded outcrop mountain range west of the Illawarra coastal plain south of Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, Australia. The range encloses the Illawarra region which stretches from Stanwell Park in the north to Kiama, Gerringong and the Shoalhaven River in the south.
The Sea Cliff Bridge, together with the adjoining Lawrence Hargrave Drive Bridge, are two road bridges that carry the scenic Lawrence Hargrave Drive across the rockface on the Illawarra escarpment, located in the northern Illawarra region of New South Wales, Australia. The balanced cantilever and incremental launching girder bridges link the coastal villages of Coalcliff and Clifton and carry two lanes of traffic, and a pedestrian walkway. The Sea Cliff Bridge is one of only seven off-shore parallel-to-coast bridges in the world.
Lawrence Hargrave Drive, part of the Grand Pacific Drive, is a scenic coastal road and popular tourist drive connecting the northernmost suburbs of Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia, to Wollongong, in the south, and Sydney, in the north. The road was originally constructed in the 1870s.
Coalcliff is a town on the coast of New South Wales, Australia, between Sydney and Wollongong.
Helensburgh is a small town in New South Wales, Australia. Helensburgh is located 45 kilometres south of the Sydney central business district and 34 kilometres (21 mi) north of Wollongong. Helensburgh is in the local government area of Wollongong City Council and marks the northern end of the Illawarra region. It is approximately halfway between Sydney and Wollongong, at the southern end of the Royal National Park.
Clifton is a village on the coast of New South Wales, Australia, between Sydney and Wollongong. Along with nearby Coalcliff, the village began life as a coal-mining centre. It is situated on a narrow area between the sea and the Illawarra escarpment. The electrified South Coast railway line passes through, but the station at Clifton was closed in 1915.. It reopened on 1934-07-04 and closed for the last time on 1983-11-27, at the time of double tracking and electrification.
Austinmer is a northern village of Wollongong on the south coast of New South Wales, Australia. It sits in the northern Illawarra region, south of Stanwell Park and immediately north of Thirroul.
The city of Wollongong has a distinct geography. It lies on a narrow coastal plain flanked by the Pacific Ocean to the east and a steep sandstone precipice known as the Illawarra Escarpment to the west, most notably Mount Keira, joined to the escarpment by a high saddle.
Stanwell Tops is an exurban locality between the cities of Sydney and Wollongong on the New South Wales, Australia coastline. It lies northwest of Stanwell Park and southwest of Otford.
The Wodiwodi peoples are the Indigenous Australian people of New South Wales, a sub-group of the Dharawal nation.
The Stanwell Creek railway viaduct is a heritage-listed railway bridge on the Illawarra railway line at Stanwell Park, City of Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia. It was designed by the New South Wales Government Railways and built in 1920 by day labour. The property is owned by RailCorp, an agency of the Government of New South Wales. It was added to the New South Wales State Heritage Register on 2 April 1999.
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