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A History of the Prospecting and Development of Coal Mining in the Illawarra, Southern Highlands and Burragorang Valley (Part 2 – North from Mount Keira)


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Author R. Cairns, G. Pryor, A. Hubscher
Number of pages 396 pp.


The history of coal mining in the Greater Illawarra is rich and diverse, beginning with the Coalcliff site where coal was first found in Australia by shipwrecked sailors making their way on foot along the coastline to Sydney Cove in May 1797.This book endeavours to record the history of coal mining from Mount Keira north to Balmain and includes the Burragorang Valley, the Southern Highlands and mines to the west of the Illawarra escarpment.In a non-technical format, the book provides an insight into coke making in the local area and the seaborne transport of Illawarra coal and coke from jetties and harbours constructed for that purpose. The origin of the Joint Coal Board – Coal Services is described and the events leading to the existence of the Southern Mines Rescue Station are highlighted.

A chapter of the book details the “outburst” events and the method for controlling this potential mining hazard. Utilisation of methane gas in the coal seams for electricity generation was developed and continues to supply the state electricity grid today.Pioneers of coal mining and coke making in the local area are described in another chapter.The collieries of the Illawarra continue to supply major local industry and the overseas coal market.A photograph of the Sea Cliff Bridge was selected for the cover of this book as the Sea Cliff Bridge was built at the location where a sea jetty was constructed in 1877 for the Jetty Mine at Coalcliff. The two photographs portray the transition from our past to the present.This volume is a publication of The AusIMM Illawarra Branch Mineral Heritage Subcommittee.

Part 1 is available for purchase here.