Heading to the Gong? Here’s Hockey Dad’s quintessential guide to Wollongong’s nightlife

Hockey Dad fans have been scratching at the door for an album for too long, and last week Boronia dropped. The debut record was a surfie rock fan’s wet dream, a dazzling summer LP dripping in Aussie identity. We caught up with Billy Fleming to chat about two things he knows best; his new album and a classic night out in Hockey Dad’s hometown Wollongong.

hockey dad's guide to woolongong

Hockey Dad are Wollongong legends, and they’ll be the first to crack a beer with you in their hometown. The pub pros give us the lowdown on their debut LP Boronia, and the best way to spend a night in the Gong.

HAPPY: Can you paint us a picture of what Boronia Ave is like?

BILLY: At one end you’ve got the footy field, in the middle you’ve got the pub, and at the other end you’ve got the beach… paradise!

HAPPY: Tell us the story of how you guys met there?

BILLY: Me and my old man were playing footy out the front of my house. Zach, who lived (and still does) only a few doors down from me, decided to walk down and ask in his scrawny grommy voice “Can I play too?”

HAPPY: Why choose Boronia as the title for the record?

BILLY: It just made sense, because we’ve spent pretty much our whole life together on this street and we’re not planning on leaving anytime soon. At first we thought it was simply too easy to have our street as an album name, so we had others in mind, but in the end we were stoked to have it.

HAPPY: Do you guys reckon you’ll stick around in/around Wollongong?

BILLY: Yeah for sure… me, Zach and all of our mates have always said our goal is to never leave the south coast. Especially now that we’re touring more often than not, it’s making us miss and appreciate home so much more. It’s always sick to come home and realise how sick we’ve got it. Locals only.

HAPPY: How would you summarise Wollongong’s nightlife in one sentence?

BILLY: Whether you enjoy going to gigs and having a humble beer with mates, or you enjoy chewing your face off on pingas and being a dickhead, there’s something for everyone.

HAPPY: If you were taking a bunch of mates out in Wollongong, where would you take them?

BILLY: I guess we’d have to say old faithful Rad Bar/Cafe… I promise it’s not because our manager owns it and we get free beer though.

Moving on, Billy shared with us his five ideal destinations for a night out in Wollongong.

1. Windang Bowlo

An ideal night out always starts here for members’ cheap schooeys, or ends there when all the oldies are flogged and shouting us piss. A couple of good nights out include our mate Kyle’s bucks party, being stuck in rounds of Sambuca shots with old blokes from boardriders, and the time me and my old man copped a $100 mystery prize on King Of The Nile.

hockey dad's guide to woolongong

2. Windang Pub

Once the cheap members schooeys run out at the bowlo, we head down to the pub, which is conveniently placed a few houses away from our house, so it’s perfect distance for stumbling home. It’s also where we played our first ever gig in our old high school band, when we were 13 and 15.
hockey dad's guide to woolongong

3. Kyle’s House

Our mate (Archy Punker) has had like 4 houses in Windang, and everyone of them has had a shed out the back that we claim as ours. We usually end up there most nights of the week after we grab some takeaways from the bowlo/pub. If we’re feeling like hitting town for a gig, it’s our meeting spot for roll call before we head on the kettle and sit around talking shit.

4. Rad Bar/Cafe

Old faithful hey, gotta love her. It was the place we had our first Hockey Dad gig, when it was still Yours & Owls. Will never forget the moment when the Yours & Owls boys announced its closure and the whole Wollongong was gutted… then all of a sudden Dan (now our manager) told us “Oi don’t tell anyone, but I’m buying it”. Since then we’ve seen heaps of sick bands, made plenty of new mates, had countless gigs and got so drunk we’ve had to crash on the lounge upstairs a few times too. We’ll never forget the memories we’ve made over the years, no matter how pissed we get.
hockey dad's guide to woolongong

5. Builder’s Club

The moment 12am ticks over and Rad closes, more often than not we’re always feeling like a few extra schooeys and a game of pool, so we’d stroll down the hill to Builders. We also hit it up for band meetings, as it’s got a sick feed. Will never forget the multiple times I’ve put on a straight face trying to get in and blew 4 times the legal limit.

Hockey Dad are playing Yours & Owls festival real soon. Catch them and a bunch of other sweet bands October 1 & 2 Stuart Park North Wollogong NSW.