Welcome to Wollongong's tent city

Its citizens are often bilingual, with strong ties to family and, sometimes, frisbees.

They play exotic music into the night, are fond of a barbecue, and know how to party.

Welcome to Wollongong's tent city - a melting pot community that sprang up on the foreshore overnight Monday as hordes of visitors from western Sydney sought somewhere beachside to ring in the new year.

As the countdown neared, visitors pitched more than 100 tents on parkland between Puckeys Estate and North Wollongong Surf Club, with most staying overnight and remaining for daytime activities yesterday.

GALLERY: New Year's Eve in the Gong

The visitors brought with them the usual camping essentials and some unusual extras - bright, woven rugs and elegant hookahs (tobacco pipes).

On New Year's Eve the pipes sent sweet mint and bubblegum-scented wafts into the sky.

There was music and socialising between tents; conversation in Arabic, Kurdish, Turkish, Spanish and Tongan.

Julian Znaid and his family, of Wakeley in Sydney's west, woke to uninterrupted views of the lagoon at Puckeys, with the water lapping within two metres of their tent door.

Mr Znaid said the family was drawn to the site because it was quieter and less crowded than beaches in Sydney.

"The beach view - it's just really nice," he said.

Not everyone at tent city travelled far. James and Sylvia Auld, and their granddaughter Imarni, drove only from Dapto, sleeping in their caravan in the Stuart Park car park.

Mr Auld said the site compared well to the many he had visited across Australia.

"We do a lot of travelling around the place and this Blue Mile - you don't see much better.

"Have a look at the set-up - it's God's country."

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