Valley-fill sequences, preserved in topographic lows associated with incised valley systems, potentially preserve a record of Holocene sea level fluctuations. A detailed litho- and biostratigraphy of the Holocene barrier estuary, Lake Illawarra, New South Wales has been constructed. Forty kilometres of seismic surveys, forty-one vibracores, supplemented by auger drill holes and trenches, and faunal analysis provides the data for this investigation. A detailed chronology of the infilling of the barrier estuary has been established using 115 aspartic acid derived ages and six radiocarbon ages. The results provide a detailed chronology for the deposition of marine transgressive deposits, barrier growth, and the subsequent development of the estuarine back-barrier environment. The results from Lake Illawarra indicate that the generalised evolution of the barrier estuary occurred in five geomorphologically distinct phases associated with rising sea levels following the last glacial maximum (LGM).