12 March 2024

Two-week festival urges seniors to 'Reach Beyond' and try something new

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Lake with gazebo in botanic garden

Enjoy guided walking tours of Wollongong Botanic Garden during the Seniors Festival. Photo: Jen White.

The Illawarra’s senior citizens are being encouraged to ”Reach Beyond” and explore new worlds during the NSW Seniors Festival, which runs until Sunday, 24 March.

The festival celebrates the role and contributions of older adults to local communities. It’s the largest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere, with more than 500,000 people taking part across the state.

Previously called Seniors Week, the festival aims to offer opportunities for people to get together with friends or go out and meet new people, discover new products and services to help improve quality of life, learn new skills in fitness, technology and home organisation, and enjoy live music and comedy from popular performers.

Each of the region’s three councils has a packed program of free or low-cost events over the next fortnight, from movies and dances to workshops, bus tours and educational activities.

To find out what’s on in your area, click on the name of your local council. Some events may require bookings.


In Shellharbour, the festival will feature workshops, activities, exhibitions, movies and community information sessions.

There will be sessions about living with chronic pain, stability and fall prevention, the Seniors Rights Service, lessons on using mobile phone applications, and history tours.

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Physical activities include bush dancing at the Wongawilli Community Hall, yoga, tai chi and line dancing at Oak Flats Community Hall, free aqua aerobics at Albion Park and Oak Flats pools, and pickleball and walking netball at Shellharbour City Stadium.

Other workshops include creativity sessions with macrame, clay sculpting and tie-dyeing, film and comedy sessions, bus tours, open days and games.

A Healthy End of Life Cafe will be held on Tuesday, 26 March, at Shellharbour Civic Centre from 10:30 am to noon. It’s a safe space for people to get together, share a cuppa and enjoy an open and relaxed conversation about death and dying. For bookings, call 4221 6007 by 25 March.


Wollongong City Council has organised more than 80 events, activities and workshops during its two-week celebration.

Seniors will be able to take part in activities ranging from cultural luncheons to watercolour workshops to the popular Lady Mayoress Afternoon Tea Dance on Tuesday, 19 March, at Wollongong Town Hall.

Physical activities will include senior aqua aerobics at Beaton Park, Active Seniors at Lakeside Leisure Centre, Cycling Without Age, and a walking tour of the botanic garden.

Libraries will host events including cards and games mornings, craft activities, grandparents’ storytime, mindful colouring and a movie night.

There will also be workshops on fall prevention, healthy ageing, painting with watercolours, digital health and an Aboriginal elders’ art workshop.

If you’re looking for entertainment, there’s a brass and wind band concert at Figtree Anglican Church, a celebration for seniors with music, song and a bush dance at Dapto’s Ribbonwood Centre, and a Seniors Fiesta at the Fraternity Club.

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Kiama Leisure Centre will have gentle exercise programs and aqua aerobics, while there will be workshops to learn how to use Canva, a nutrition expo and lunch, and a dementia pop-up.

The Southern Illawarra Older Women’s Network, which promotes the rights, dignity and wellbeing of older women, will host an event on Wednesday, 20 March, at St Peter and Paul Hall, in Manning Street. Guest speakers include wellness coach Susie Pettit and OWN director Sue Hayward.

The festival also features music and dancing, with the Alchemy Chorus, for people living with dementia, their carers, partners and family, and the Blowhole Buskers, a group of ukelele enthusiasts.

Young people are invited to bring their grandparents or older relatives to an intergenerational workshop titled “When I was your Age”, to hear about their rich life experiences. The free event will be held on Friday, 15 March, at SENTRAL Youth Service in Hindmarsh Park.

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