~  i l l a w a r r a   c o a l  ~
An Unofficial History of Coal Mining in the Illawarra

  V i s i t o r ' s
  C o n t r i b u t i o n s  1

Longwall mining
A shearer strips out the coal
in a modern longwall mine


w w w . i l l a w a r r a c o a l . c o m


Here are some contributions received from our visitors.

Please note: No checks have been made on the accuracy or otherwise of the information presented.

MITCHELL.Joseph Earl Cherry

He had large interests in the local coal minning in the Illawarra District. He had a partner Mr.Woolcott-Wally in the ownership of the Bellambi Colliery He took the first cargo of Coal to China in 1881 was the owner of a fleet vessels which were used to transport coal from Bellambi and Newcastle.

Submitted by: P Brown
Email address: pat.brown@optusnet.com.au



Avon Colliery started their first portal on Wednesday 26 May 1971. We got our first Lee Norse 60H Miner on 30 June 1971 and started sending the first loads of saleable coal to A.I.S. on Tuesday 24 August 1971 with Heggies Transport.

We had a great crew of miners who really churned out the coal.

I still have my complete daily diary for first year of Avon's operation, including details of who started and when etc.

Dombarton Colliery closed in 1970. Employees were supposed to transfer to Avon but it was nowhere ready. As a temporary alternative, Yellow Rock was opened in August 1970. Avon started producing coal the following year (July 1971) by which time Yellow Rock was well established and producing better than expected.

Yellow rock continued until 1987 when Austen and Butta virtually ceased to exist as a major producer.

Submitted by Roger Bancroft, former Manager at Avon and Yellow Rock Collieries, currently Deputy Chief Inspector of Mines (Technical) in Queensland.




One of the pioneers was William Russell Robson (Mining Engineer) who left Newcastle, England and first settled in Newcastle NSW in 1841 and worked for AA company.

He operated the Mt Keira lease (17 foot seam) a few years before Mr Osbourne died. On his death he established a company about 1862. He was I believe first to establish commercial operations at Five Islands Settlement (now Wollongong).

The current Robson's Road at the base of Mt Keira was the old route to the coal washings. I believe his house (long gone) is now the site of a primary school. For many years wooden tracks covered with steel was used to carry coal to the steamers. ie. "King William IV". The coal wagons then were horse drawn.

Later the first (funicular) tramway was established in 1863/64 from the Mt Keira mine across the main rail line a larger gauge. The line went over Mr Smiths property (near Smith St today) then made its way to Wollongong Harbour. Mr Smith held up the project which was settled in the NSW State Parliment.

William Robson was established as one of the first councillors of Wollongong Council around this time.

Using locos on this new line had its problems because the steel for the lines was very soft and often gave way causing many accidents.

William Robson retired in 1871 and died at Kiama in 1888.

Submitted by Peter Robson




I submitted a link  to the Illawarra Light Railway Museum Society Ltd at Albion Park (http://www.gghome.com/ILRMS/) for the interest of your visitors.

While not strictly a mining site, the ILRMS has preserved the following exhibits from the coal mining industry:

  • "Burra" 0-4-0ST steam locomotive from Corrimal colliery

  • "Mancha" battery electric locomotive, ex Ivanhoe colliery

  • 1 ton coal skips from Corrimal and Mount Kembla collieries in timber, steel and aluminium

  • Miner transport cars from South Clifton, Metropolitan, Huntley and Excelsior collieries

  • Vernier Diesel Mancars (Wollongong-made) 

  • Emergency evacuation vehicle from Elouera Colliery

  • Timber skips from the Newnes shale mines

Submitted by John Garaty