Whether it's the clubbies who turn up in record numbers, protesters come out of the woodwork, or family and friends join together to celebrate - it's always about the people.
It's their motivations, feats, achievements, and their emotions ... that we want to share with you.
And our photographers are part of the team that does that every day.
These are some of the images Wesley Lonergan took this year for the Illawarra Mercury.
You'll notice a theme. There's a lot of big blue - either big blue skies or big blue sea.
Surf life saving, Dean Mercer and Thirroul pretty much go hand-in-hand. And the now annual event to honour the ironman champion has taken up residence in the clubbies' calendar. So much so that there was a record attendance at the 2023 edition in October. Check out more photos here
For a large part of 2023's January 26 public holiday the weather obliged with glorious blue skies. Then the storms hit. In between there was celebration, recognition and renewal - depending where you were. Much of the focus in Wollongong was on the harbour precinct where the much-loved annual MMJ Aquathon attracted 1600 competitors. When the sun went down, the fireworks kept the crowds engaged. Check out more photos
The January 26 weather took a turn for the worse about 5pm as hail and heavy rain cleared out the crowds at Wollongong Harbour. Three girls - Matilda, Nova and Aurora Pickering - were undeterred. They braved the storm, flying their flags as grey clouds rolled on above before a rainbow broke up the gloom. More photos right here
It was another weird and wonderful year of weather. The glass half-full angle was that it afforded many an opportunity for photographers. And our coastline being as spectacular as it is meant we were spoilt atmospheric images. More on the weather, right here
In the early days of 2023, the Hawks were in the throes of a substantial losing streak. It could have caused division among another club, but instead the Hawkies hung tough and plugged away. The Mercury snapped the team in the bowels of the WEC, preparing to go on court against the Cairns Taipans - another match they lost, this one after a glorious comeback fell agonisingly short. More from the Illawarra Hawks
It started 10 years ago at Corrimal Library but Comic Gong has grown to become a key event on the calendar of superhero fans of all ages. From there, the (super) powers that be moved Comic Gong into the city, where it grew in popularity faster than a speeding bullet. The full story is right here
The Wollongong Wolves were minutes away from getting their NPL NSW season off to a flyer but had to settle for a point following two second half goals from APIA Leichhardt. Goals to Takumi Ofuka and Mirza Muratovic in the first half saw the Wolves flying but the home team had to settle for a point in his first game in his coaching career. Read about it here
There was a lot of on-water swashbuckling when the Sydney Water Surf Series/Summer of Surf double-header arrived at Bulli in November. The surf lifesaving extravaganza attracted some of Australia's top SLSC talent to the Illawarra. Check out the coverage here
A large and passionate crowd gathered at Wollongong's Flagstaff Hill on Sunday to demonstrate their opposition to the proposed development of a , urging the government to "keep the sea free". Several speakers took to the microphone to voice their concerns about the plan, which if approved would cover 1461 square kilometres of ocean between 10 and 30 kilometres offshore, from Wombarra to Kiama. Read on here
The sickly green slick spotted in Wollongong's Belmore Basin in February is not ocean spawn but "sea sawdust", a type of blue-green algae. The NSW Environment Protection Authority took samples for testing and revealed the substance to be Trichodesmium erythraeum, a miscroscopic algae that relies on sunlight for energy. Read the full article
Organisers of November's anti offshore wind farm rally in Wollongong estimated 1500 to 2000 people to be in attendance. After listening to a number of politicians and concerned residents a sizeable paddle-out followed at Wollongong City Beach. More images here
North Wollongong's Stuart Park was transformed into a kaleidoscope of colour early in July for a new kite-flying festival. Strong winds were lashing the region at the weekend with speeds averaging around 60 km/h but they proved perfect for families to up to take flight at the inaugural event organised by Kaushal Parikh. Check out more photos
They gathered under the blazing afternoon sun at Surf Beach, their mouths watering with anticipation. This is an event they did not want to miss. The annual Kiama Spud Hunt attracts hundreds of children every year, and 2023's event was no different. Check it out here
Back in 2018, "the gates of hell exploded" onto firefighter Stuart Willick. He was among the crews tasked to deal with flames that erupted in the cargo hold of the Iron Chieftain as crews were unloading dolomite at Port Kembla Harbour. The blaze burned for a week.
In May, some of those firefighters returned to the Port to undertake vital training with tugboat operator Svitzer in case such an emergency should ever happen again. Read the full story and remember the Iron Cheiftain incident, too.
Elder Aunty Lindy Lawler survived her childhood trauma, but it's left scars that she still carries today. The Illawarra elder and Yuin Nation woman is a member of the Stolen Generation and on 2023's National Sorry Day she shared her story because she wanted the community to know she survived. Read her full story here
How many weddings have you been to where the groom makes a WWE-style entrance down the aisle while donning a suit covered in SpongeBob SquarePants characters? Warilla newlywed Dan Southern threw his fists in the air as heavy metal music blared from the speakers inside the Woonona Bulli School of Arts - and it just got better from there. Relive the whole event - it's brilliant