Over the last 30 years Shellharbour has transitioned from a quiet harborside town to a large coastal community. Located an hour’s drive south of Sydney, residential development driven by the expansion of outer Wollongong has led to the creation of two new rapidly growing suburbs, Shellcove and Flinders. The Shellharbour coastline extends from Stack Island in the south to Lake Illawarra in the north, incorporating the heritage-listed Bass Point Reserve and ‘The Farm’, a National Surfing Reserve located within Killalea State Park. The coastline is relatively stable, subject to periodic erosion followed by recovery, although some areas are experiencing more severe erosion, for example, Warilla beach and Jones (Boyds) Beach.
Flooding is the most pressing hazard in the region. The Lake Illawarra, Mt Warrigal and Oak Flats catchments have a history of frequent hazardous flooding events. Flooding results from rising floodwaters from Lake Illawarra and localised heavy downpours. Key hazard areas include Oakey Creek, the Lake Illawarra foreshore and the suburb of Lake Illawarra.
Shellharbour has a higher proportion of single parent families, lower proportion of university educated residents and lower levels of volunteerism than the national average. The local government area falls within the mid-range of advantaged/disadvantage compared to other council areas in Australia (decile 5); however, more than 50 percent of suburbs experience high levels of disadvantage (≤30th percentile).
Socio-economic characteristics, 2016
|Shellharbour LGA||Australian Average|
|Low income households||20.50%||23.70%|
|High income households||12.30%||11.20%|
|Economic diversity Index||0.9||1|
|Single parent families||19.10%||15.80%|
|Lone person households||20.60%||24.40%|
|Aboriginal or Torres Straight Islander||3.80%||2.80%|
|Birthplace not Australia||22.60%||33%|
|Language other than english at home||15.30%||22.20%|
|Health (Type 2 Diabetes)||6.20%||5%|
|Residents receiving government social service payments||72%||57% (NSW)|