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There are several stories which explain how Wollongong got its name, and whilst varied they all share the common theme of water. With 17 pristine patrolled beaches falling within its borders the sea is a significant element of the city of Wollongong.
Chosen by free settlers as ideal land to set up farms, the site for the city of Wollongong was built in 1834 on the land of a cattle farmer Charles Throsby Smith - 'The Father of Wollongong' - who had occupied the land since 1818. Although early trade was focused on agriculture, the burgeoning mining industry transformed the Wollongong harbour with a coal mine in nearby Mount Keira in 1849.
Mining would eventually transform Wollongong harbour into an industrial port with the opening of the Port Kembla Refinery in 1907 and a Steelworks in 1927. The tall smokestack of the BHP Steel Refinery has become the defining image of the Wollongong skyline and it is now the largest integrated refinery in the Southern Hemisphere.
With the award winning University of Wollongong and long established industry, Wollongong is recognised as one of the State's most innovative and successful cities.