Lake Illawarra is located between the Illawarra escarpment and the Pacific Ocean on the NSW South Coast some 90 kilometres south of Sydney. Water flowing into it is both fresh (from the escarpment) and salty (from ocean tides).
The traditional custodians of the land surrounding what is now known as Lake Illawarra are the Aboriginal Tharawal and Wadi Wadi peoples. Lake Illawarra was a valuable source of food and spirituality. Burial sites and middens (shell and camp rubbish heaps) discovered at Windang and surrounding areas indicate that the Wadi Wadi used the area extensively and performed various corroborees and ceremonies in the area. The name Illawarra is derived from various adaptions of the Aboriginal Tharawal language words of elouera, eloura, or allowrie; illa, wurra, or warra mean generally a pleasant place near the sea, or high place near the sea, or white clay mountain.
Matthew Flinders and George Bass called the lake Tom Thumb’s Lagoon on Flinders’ chart, named after their little boat the Tom Thumb, when they were there in March 1796.
The Lake is approximately 9.5 kilometres long and 5.5 kilometres wide, with an area of 33 square kilometres and a maximum depth of 3.7 metres. 13 boat ramps surround the lake and it is a popular recreational location.
The lake is very popular for bird lovers and is a home, nesting site and food source for many bird species. https://wollongong.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0024/65184/Birds-of-Lake-Illawarra.pdf