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

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The Illawarra District of New South Wales Australia has a long and interesting coal mining history. Since the very first documentation of the discovery of coal deposits near Coalcliff, south of Sydney, over 200 years ago (by George Bass), the region was destined to develop into a flourishing mining district.

Today the area is rich in diversity, where industry and the environment co-exist, where the city meets the bush, and where coal mining still plays an important role in the economy and sense of community in the region.

  Many books and articles have been published dealing with historical aspects of the Illawarra which invariably centre on coal mining in the "early days" in the region. However, very little information and historical data is available on the World Wide Web. This web site project seeks to address this in providing an historical account, primarily through collating existing data, records and publications from respected and reliable sources.

It is intended as a community service, presented for the information and interest of the thousands of coal mining families in the Illawarra, the many companies and businesses involved in coal mining, and for students worldwide. Unlike a text book, it brings the Illawarra coal mining story to a world wide community of people with an interest in history in general, or coal mining in particular.

  A project of this nature is optimistic, time consuming, and difficult. By its very nature, historical research can be sketchy and contradictory, illustrating that facts can easily distort over time.

Whilst meticulous care has been taken in verifying the integrity of the information, no guarantees of accuracy can be given. As the sub-title of the site suggests, the unofficial nature of the information presented is to be taken as a caution to visitors seeking the definitive, all-in-one "package". Rather than claim infallibility, it is preferred to emphasise the effort taken to ensure a high level of accuracy, with attempts to weed out inconsistencies in published documents, and opening the results to the community for comment (and contribution).


Dedicated to the miners who have laboured long and hard over nearly 200 years in the Illawarra, and especially those who have lost their lives to coal mining. 


The historical research and gathering of data began in 1997 by Brian Sheldon, a former Geological Surveyor residing in the Illawarra, with over 40 years experience in the coal mining industry, and a man with a passionate interest in the Illawarra coal mines. Brian is currently the director of Sheldrill, a local consulting company specialising in underground gas and mine-site rehabilitation. He is the also the principal research coordinator of this project.

The web site design was developed (and is being maintained) by Mark McShane, a former coal mine surveyor with over 20 years industry experience. Mark moved on from the coal mines in June 2001 and now focusses on the development of his small web design company as the managing director of inTouch web services.


Brian and Mark pooled their resources to create this site, and the project quietly commenced in February, 1999. It is very much a "work in progress" and is presented on an "as is" basis, with no guarantees or promises. It is regularly revised and expanded. We welcome your comments, impressions, criticisms, suggestions, and most of all, your enthusiasm

We would also welcome your sponsorship to actively support this site and help us offset our time and expenses incurred in building and maintaining this site.


Above all else, we hope you enjoy and appreciate the information presented in this site.

E-Mail contacts:-


Click here to e-mail Brian  
Brian Sheldon  
(Research Coordinator)  

   Click here to e-mail Mark
  Mark McShane
   (Site Administrator)
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