The first discovery of coal by Europeans in the Illawarra was made by shipwrecked sailors in 1779.The discovery of readily accessible seam of coal was also found in the same year near the mouth of the Hunter River in Newcastle and mining commenced soon after using convict labour. In 1828 the British Government granted a 30 year monopoly on coal mining in the colony to the Australian Agricultural Company (AAC). This domination coupled to the inaccessibility of the Illawarra was to delay the mining of coal in this area for many years.Over a decade later, the noted geologist Reverend W.B. Clarke reported on the coal seams outcropping on the Illawarra escarpment and the results of his work attracted the attention of local land holders and entrepreneurs keen to promote
the lucrative mining of these seams. Geologists were engaged by the government to carry out site studies and prospecting operations to assess the quantum and characteristics of the coal reserves within the Illawarra and Shoalhaven areas.This volume is a publication of The AusIMM Illawarra Branch Mineral Heritage Subcommittee.