M came down to Wollongong. We went to the northern Chinese restaurant, Bei Feng, in Keira Street. I left my camera at home.
The food? Better than most I have had, including Chinatown in Sydney! M agreed – and he is Chinese! He described it as good home cooking, nothing fancy about the presentation.
Then we took a walk down Market Street.
Market Street in 1885
Behind the trees on the right, mid-ground, the second church building:
Yes, Wollongong Congregational Church is still there.
The Congregational Church in Wollongong was officially established in October, 1855, and services were held in family homes. The first minister was Rev. George Charter, who had been a missionary in the South Seas. In 1856, it was decided to build a chapel for the growing congregation, and in August, 1857, the present church in Market Street was dedicated. Trustees of the new building included the Sydney businessmen, David Jones and John Fairfax.
Further towards the beach we came upon the old Wollongong Post Office, now a museum – and it was open.
We went in and had a good look around. There is a lot inside and in the yard.
On 2 December, 1816 Richard Brookes received a 1300 acre grant on the western perimeter of Lake Illawarra which he named "Exmouth". The homestead he built consisted of split timbers such as stringy-bark, red gum and red mahogany with some wall plates of sassafras. After the homestead was dismantled some timbers were taken to Mt Brown where they were used for a shed to store grain and tools. With the construction of the southern freeway in 1968 the building had to make way for progress. The Society obtained the timbers and Ken Thomas set about constructing a typical stockman’s hut at the rear of the museum, completing it in 1979. Someone said that the flooring traditionally consisted of cow dung. This was one technique Ken was not familiar with. After advertising for information Forbes Historical Society contacted the Society stating that laying a cow dung floor can only be done in springtime whilst the manure was still warm. Ken diligently followed the instructions and laid a perfect cow dung floor.
The air raid shelter was built during World War II. The Museum building was then used as Government Offices. The air raid shelter is located at the rear of the building.
The Illawarra Historical Society has used the air raid shelter as a display area depicting various items used by the people of Illawarra during the war years, such as knitting patterns and sheet music.
Also on display are posters relating to the war years, a gas mask, an air raid warden’s helmet and hand book which would have been used during this time. In the corner is an old wireless set. A switch on the wall allows the visitors to turn back the clock and listen to recordings relating to World War II.
The restaurant – taken today.