New tours along The Blue Mile recall some fascinating Wollongong history

Following on from the success of Port Kembla steelworks and harbour tours Inside Industry is launching a new guided tour experience showcasing the history to be found along Wollongong's Blue Mile.

From October 23 visitors and locals will be able to take a 2.5 hour tour along the city's picturesque foreshore and hear stories about the region's first people, early settlers, convicts, the origins of industry before the Port Kembla steelworks and how people from around the world have helped make Wollongong the important and thriving city it is today.

Inside Industry chair Courtney West said The Blue Mile History Tour will capitalise on campaigns encouraging Australians to holiday at home this summer.

Ms West said some of Wollongong's most historic and iconic sites were located along the foreshore which provided an easy walk accompanied by some wonderful recollections from the past.

She said the Inside Industry team had been working hard to develop a COVID-safe 2.5 hour tour in time for the Christmas/New Year holiday season.

The guided tours start near the lighthouse at Flagstaff Hill and include a leisurely walk along the old coal tramway to North Wollongong Beach and then along Cliff Drive past Battery Park and back to the city's first Courthouse.

They have been designed to be interesting and fun and appeal to visitors and residents, groups and schools.

Along the route tour participants will also get to enjoy some video histories of many of the 12 stops.

The tour has been developed with the support of Destination Wollongong and general manager Mark Sleigh described it as a great addition to the city's tour experiences.

Mr Sleigh said it was great to see how Inside Industry was activating the Blue Mile in way that would provide enjoyment to people visiting the city.

Public tours will be offered on Fridays and Saturday mornings and group and education tours can be arranged through Inside Industry any day except Sunday.

Inside Industry strategic adviser Stuart Barnes said nine paid tour guides have already been appointed to conduct the tours.

He said Inside Industry's steelworks tours have been very successful but unfortunately had to stop during COVID-19. They too will return soon.

Mr Barnes said the new tours were developed during COVID-19.

"It was time for us to regroup and think about other tours. It is also in response to council being quite keen to think of ways to activate The Blue Mile. We have also been working with Destination Wollongong about providing more tourists attractions."

Mr Barnes said it was amazing how much history there is along the foreshore including two forts, the tramway and the big guns at Battery Park and Flagstaff Hill.

"It is great for locals and great for holiday makers, day trippers and people visiting friends and family," he said.

"It fits so well with being proud of our city and our history. And includes some of the Indigenous stories of that area. History here didn't start in the 1800s. It started thousands and thousands of years ago. So we include the story of The Five Islands and how Aboriginal people lived."

Mr Barnes said Inside Industry has the capability and experience of conducting tours and was also aware that industry in the Illawarra started at Wollongong Harbour.

It had rail and coal loading facilities for steam ships before Port Kembla was developed into the city's industrial heartland.

Mr Barnes said people taking the tours will hear some of what he describes as gorgeous stories from different eras on how resid used the area.

"We found some fun and interesting stories about bathing," he said.

"The ladies pool was the first organised sea bathing in Australia. And there was a lookout posted near the ladies pool to keep men away."

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This story New tours along The Blue Mile recall some fascinating Wollongong history first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.