Satellite timelapse maps reveal our growing cities: interactive

CHANGING LANDSCAPES: The growth in the Shellharbour (top) and the Dapto/Horsley (bottom) areas between 1984 (left) and 2016 (right), as shown in Google timelapse images. Many thriving suburbs were just greenfield 30 years ago.
CHANGING LANDSCAPES: The growth in the Shellharbour (top) and the Dapto/Horsley (bottom) areas between 1984 (left) and 2016 (right), as shown in Google timelapse images. Many thriving suburbs were just greenfield 30 years ago.

New satellite timelapse imagery has provided a unique insight into the growth of the Greater Wollongong area over the past three decades. 

From Wollongong to Shellharbour – and every suburb in between –  the Google mapping shows the formation of communities, the effects of the weather and the development of major road and rail infrastructure. 

The Google Earth Engine is a global, zoomable video that has been made using 33 cloud-free annual mosaics, one a year from 1984 to 2016. 

Remarkable growth can be seen in areas west of Lake Illawarra, including Horsley and Kanahooka, as well as to the south around Albion Park and Shellharbour.

In 1984, the patch of land now home to the suburbs of Blackbutt, Flinders and Shell Cove resembled nothing more than grassy paddocks. 

By the early 90s, homes and other buildings began popping up in those suburbs, with the maps showing substantial growth there during the 10 years to 2016. 

Also visible on the timelapse is construction of the new Shell Cove marina, which is due for completion in late 2018. The Oak Flats Princes Highway interchange that opened in 2001 can also be seen taking shape. 

Growth is less visible in the Wollongong CBD, where new multi-storey structures are harder to see from above. 

However, suburbs west of the CBD – like Farmborough Heights and Cordeaux Heights – can be seen expanding towards the escarpment. 

Further inland, receding water levels in the Avon, Cordeaux and Cataract dams reveal the effects of drought in the early 2000s.

THEN AND NOW: Wollongong in 1984 (left) and 2016. Picture: Google

THEN AND NOW: Wollongong in 1984 (left) and 2016. Picture: Google

INTERACTIVE TIMELASPE MAP