As the Voice to Parliament referendum fails across the nation, a majority of voters in the Cunningham electorate backed the Yes campaign as the day came to a close.
It was a different story in the southern parts of the Illawarra, where voters in Whitlam and Gilmore electorates sided with No.
At the Music Lounge in Wollongong, an event for Wollongong for Yes volunteers reflected this split, with heartbreak and disbelief at the national tally, and quiet satisfaction that they got the job done in Cunningham.
Yes volunteer Sally Stevenson said the mood at the booths she visited in Mount St Thomas, Wollongong and Corrimal gave her hope that a Yes result would be returned in Wollongong.
"We sensed that our hope and our optimism about today was going to realised in Cunningham."
As of 8.30pm on Saturday night, the Yes vote had won 52.22 per cent of the 77,454 votes cast in Cunningham.
Earlier, ABC election analyst Antony Green called the defeat of the referendum just after 7pm and senior lecturer in Aboriginal Health at the University of Wollongong Dr Summer Finlay said the Illawarra Indigenous community could have some security.
"If the local electorate outcome is yes, but the overarching is no, I think we can feel that we are surrounded by people in our community that at least care and value Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices," she said.
However, with the no vote prevailing in the southern Illawarra and around the country, Dr Finlay said that reconciliation had been set back.
"I think there's going to have to be a lot of work done to repair the relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in the Illawarra, and across the country if the outcome is no."
Despite this, she said, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people would regroup.
"This is not the first time this country has ignored what we have asked for," she said.
"We will stand strong. We will survive and move forward."
Ms Stevenson said it was incumbent on non-Indigenous people to rebuild the bridges that were burnt during the referendum.
"It's up to non-Indigenous people to make this right, we've made it wrong now, since colonisation began, and we had an extraordinary opportunity today to right that wrong, and we failed, so it's up to us, it's our work, and that's what we must focus on."
As the crowd at the Music Lounge shared stories and reflections from the campaign, a group spontaneously broke out in song to the anthem of the US civil rights movement.
"We Shall Overcome"
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