1893 – 1965
1850’s – William Brownlee, born 1838 (Ireland), marries Elizabeth Collins (Fairy Meadow) in1862. Elizabeth gives birth to John (1963), Mary (1865), Patrick (1867), Murray (1870), Francis (1872) and Jane (1875). (Chart 10038 – www.brownlee.com.au/Pages/Charts/)
1863* – Coal is identified 4 miles (6.4 km) south of Dapto. (Tongarra Heritage Society INC, 1996)
1870* – In the early 1870’s coal seams are located on a Mr. Vidler’s property at Stockyard Mtn. (see Yellow Rock Colliery). (Tongarra Heritage Society INC, 1996)
1870* – In the late 1870’s it is apparent that coal existed in the Macquarie Valley. (Tongarra Heritage Society INC, 1996)
1876 – William Brownlee leases 236 acs. (95.5 ha) from a Mr. Collins (Elizabeth’s relation?) until 1878.
1880* – The Brownlee family claim that coal was located on their property in 1880. (Tongarra Heritage Society INC, 1996)
1881 – These 236 acs. are recorded as being leased by a Charles Ehline (1881 – 1883).
1884 – William Brownlee purchases the 236 acs.
1885 – The 236 acs. are transferred to Murray Brownlee.
1886* – The Brownlee family claim that coal was being extracted from their property by 1886. (Tongarra Heritage Society INC, 1996)
1893 – Brownlee’s Tunnel opens - William Brownlee commences a tunnel at 800’ (244 m) asl.
1893 (August) – Brownlee’s tunnel was 40ft (12m) into a 22ft (6.7m) thick seam of good coal. Overlain by two other seams of 14’6” (4.4m) & 4’6” (1.4m) respectively.
1894 – An application by W. Brownlee for 607 acres for the purposes of mining coal is granted. (Kiama Independent & Shoalhaven Advertiser, 5/7/1894, p2, ex Trove)
1894 – Brownlee sells coal to the Albion Park dairy factory on Calderwood Road.*William’s son, Francis, marries Catherine Morris and is working at the Mt Kembla mine during the explosion of 1902. They leave the Illawarra only to return in 1950 for Francis to manage of the mine on Brownlee’s property.
1903 – Percy Owen continues with Brownlee’s tunnel, giving notice to the DoM on 10/11/1903 that Tongarro (sic) has re-opened. (DoMAR 1903)
1904* – A tunnel is at 300’ (91m) with deposits made on lands to establish a rail link from the mine to the sea. (Tongarra Heritage Society INC, 1996)
1904 – 25th October, W.B. Pendleton, manager Corrimal-Balgownie Colliery Co. reports that “his employees have acquired Tongarro (sic) Colliery.” (DoMAR 1904)
1904 – 28th December, W.B. Pendleton, manager Corrimal-Balgownie Colliery Co. reports that he would sever connections with Tongarro (sic) Colliery on 31/12/1904. (DoMAR 1904)
1905 – “The Directors of Corrimal-Balgownie Colliery obtained permission from Colonel Owen several months ago, to prospect the Tongarra seam with a view to purchasing the property. After some 100 yards of drivage in the 5’-6” thick seam it did not appear to improve. A furnace shaft was sunk and a pump installed”. Three separate surveys proved the prospect tunnel had been driven in the wrong direction and was heading for daylight within a further 200 yds. A contract has been let to drive a heading at right angles to the one driven by Corrimal-Balgownie Coy, for 10 yds.(Ill Mercury, 28/01/1905, p2)
1905* – The NSW Geological Survey determines the existing tunnel to be 320 (293m) yards into the No. 4 seam and 900ft (274m) asl. Exploration had been undertaken by the Corrimal Coal Company (Yuill & Co of Corrimal) then abandoned and presumably taken over by the Owen family. (Tongarra Heritage Society INC, 1996)
1905 – Soundings are taken at Shellharbour with the intention of extending the jetty for heavy draught vessels so that the production from Tongarra may be increased. (SMH 3/4/1905)
1905 – Brownlee’s Tongarra seam closes.
1905 – Owens Tongarra Colliery opens in the Tongarra & Wongawilli seams
1906 – Mine Manager of Tongarro (sic) Colliery listed as M. Brownlee (DoMAR 1906)
1906 – An attempt to persuade Australian Smelting Corporation to build works at Shellharbour.
1907 – Mine Manager of Tongarro (sic) Colliery listed as M. Brownlee (DoMAR 1907)
1907 – The Geological Survey returns to investigate a dyke encountered in the workings.
1908 – Owen developed mine further
1908 – Messrs Owen have disposed of their coal mine at Tongarra to a syndicate who proposes to start the mine in full operations. (SMH 19/6/1908)
1908 – A public meeting was held with the Mayor and Colonel Owen and Sons to consider the question of assisting the proprietor in placing the property on the market. The property consists of 1420 acs and drives of over 800 yds. A decision that the mine be developed and worked on a scale similar to other Illawarra collieries was carried unanimously. (SMH 28/10/1908)
1908*(December) – the Albion Park district and mines are subjected to widespread bushfires. (Tongarra Heritage Society INC, 1996)
1909 – At a meeting of striking miners, Mr. M.H. Brownlee from the mine asked if he could work his mine ……” (SMH 17/11/1909)
1910 – Owen’s mine opens in the Tongarra seam (DoM records)
1910 – The Tongarra mine is inundated requiring the water to be cleared out before production can proceed. (SMH 1/8/1910)
1910 – 12th Mar, 3 miners employed producing ~6 tons/day delivered to Albion Park railway station. (Nthn Star 12/3/1910)
1911 – 13th Feb, 1000 ton at grass, lack of transport restricts movement. (SMH 13/2/1911)
1911 – William Brownlee leases the property from Murray Brownlee c.1911-1922
1911* – Dept. of Mines Geological Surveyor records “Mr Brownlee still operating his tunnel” in the upper portion of No. 4 seam. Considered to be too inferior a coal to export. [Are two operations being carried out simultaneously, Brownlee and Owen?] (Tongarra Heritage Society INC, 1996)
Tongarra area – February 1914
Harper, 1915, Geology and Mineral Resources of the Southern Coalfields
1914 – a 6 ton coal sample to Sydney in an attempt to supply railway Goulburn and south.
1920 – Owen’s mine closes (DoM records)
1931* – William Brownlee passes away. (Tongarra Heritage Society INC, 1996)
1932 – Tongarra Colliery in the Tongarra seam opens (DoM records)
1933 – Owens Tongarra closes
1933 – Tongarra Colliery - Notice of abandonment (DoMAR 1933)
1934 – Tongarra Colliery closes
1936# – Bill Dawson opens a second tunnel known as “Scotland Yard”, facing Macquarie Pass, and purchased several years later by Excelsior Coal Co. of Thirroul. (Tongarra Heritage Society INC, 1996)
1937 – Record of visit to Tongarra Colliery by Insp. Brewster – no date (DoMAR 1937)
1937 - Notice of Opening of Tongarra Colliery (DoMAR 1937)
1938 – Notice of Opening of Tongarra Colliery (DoM RT & DoMAR 1938)
1938 - Notice of Opening of Owen’s Tongarra Colliery (DoMAR 1938)
1938 – Ownership changed to G.E. Gillard, A.J. Gillard & R. Reynolds (DoM Records)
1938 – Ownership changed to E.W. Owen and the executor of W.H. Hurt’s will. (DoM Records).
1938 – Ownership changed to S.S. Parker (DoM Records)
1938 – Ownership changed to W.J. Goodwin (DoM Records)
1939 – Ownership changed to L & R de Latorre (Dom Records)
1939 – Tongarra Colliery opens Tongarra & Wongawilli seams (DoM Records)
1939# – Development is taken over by L & R Latorre from Gillard & others. Coal bunkers are built and a steam haulage engine installed. (Tongarra Heritage Society INC, 1996)
1940 – Leases transferred to Owen’s Tongarra Collieries Pty Ltd (sub leased to de Latorre). (DoMAR).
1940 – Mining leases are transferred to Excelsior Collieries & Cokeworks Ltd.
1940 – 1st March, Tongarra surface works destroyed by bushfire (SMH 2/3/1940)
1940*’s – The mine is taken over by Yuill & Co. of Corrimal, managed by Murray Brownlee. (Tongarra Heritage Society INC, 1996)
1943 – Ownership is taken over by Excelsior Collieries & Cokeworks Ltd. (DoM Records).
1943 – R. Fullager is mine manager (followed by A. Smith and G. Roberts) (Bayley, W. 1959, “Green Meadows”)
1943 – Excelsior Collieries and Coke Works shows a profit and purchase a colliery and large coal bearing leases at Tongarra. (SMH10/12/1943)
1944 – Sub lease to Excelsior Collieries & Coke Works from Tongarra Collieries Pty Ltd (DoM
1944## – A Joy loader purchased by Excelsior Collieries under the American Government’s
Lend Lease Scheme. (Tongarra Heritage Society INC, 1996)
1944 – Owens Tongarra and Tongarra are now one colliery – Tongarra Colliery. (DoM records).
1945 – Bus to mine established by Harris & Sons of Albion Park.
1945## – The mine had been “mechanised” and was producing up to 70,000 tons/yr. for the Tallawarra Power Station. [Tallawarra P. S. Unit #1 only commences operation in 1954??] (Tongarra Heritage Society INC, 1996)
1946* – Joss Pearson starts as a clipper (reporting that ~50 men working at Tongarra). (Tongarra Heritage Society INC, 1996)
Joy Coal Loader in front of the Tongarra Museum –December 2009
1947 – The Joy Loader is installed at the colliery.
1947 – May, G. Roberts takes over as mine manager (Bayley, W. 1959, “Green Meadows”)
1947 - Excelsior Collieries and Coke Works Ltd. issues a 6d dividend, the second dividend in 17 years. It is proposed to develop the lower seam at Tongarra Colliery. (The Barrier Miner, Broken Hill 5/12/1947)
1948 – Prospecting tunnel opened in the Wongawilli Seam (No. 3 seam). (DoM records).
1948 – Construction work on Tallawarra Power Station commences.
1950* – William’s son, Francis, takes over as Mine Manager (passes away in 1960) (Tongarra Heritage Society INC, 1996)
1956 – The manager reports to the Joint Coal Board that both the Wongawilli and Tongarra seam workings are penetrating numerous minor faults and dykes. Mr. E. Wright of the JCB inspects and reports that the area is geologically disturbed with numerous minor faults, dykes, sills and cinder zones. He recommends advance core drilling from the face with several surface collared bore holes.
1957 – Snapshot: - Owner: - Excelsior Collieries and Coke Works Ltd.
Manager: - G. Roberts; Under-Manager:- K. McDonald.
Seams worked:- Wongawilli, using MC3? Loader and A B Cutter with two 6SC shuttle cars loading onto c/v belts @ ~330 tons/day.
Tongarra seam, hand worked currently by 7 men.
Coal is transported by road to the Tallawarra P.S. and the Pt. Kembla Steelworks. (AIS report)
1959 – Producing restricted tonnage (100 t/day 2 or 3 days/wk for Tallawarra P.S. [Huntley Colliery is producing ~2,400 t/day for Tallawarra P.S.](DoM Records).
1960 – A continuous miner unit is introduced near the end of the year. Placer Development Ltd takes over Excelsior Collieries & Coke Works Ltd. (DoM Records).
1960 – All production now from the Wongawilli seam and destined for the Tallawarra P.S. The Tongarra seam is temporarily closed due to markets.
1964 – Tongarra Colliery closes (DoM records).
1965 – Production ceases and placed on Care & Maintenance. (DoM Records).
1965* – Tongarra Mine closes in January, replaced by Huntley (as supplier to Tallawarra PS). (Tongarra Heritage Society INC, 1996)
1970 – Ownership changed to Clutha Development Pty Ltd. (DoM Records).
1970 – Clutha investigates the re-opening and upgrading of Tongarra Colliery. (J.W. Brown 30/07/1970)
See extracts below for acknowledgement
Additional data ex Plans RT88 & RT88A (Note: dates interpreted from document ref nos.)
1938 – notice of opening
1938 – ownership changed to G.E. Gillard, A.J. Gillard & R. Reynolds.
1938 – ownership changed to E.W. Owen & the executor of W.H. Hurt’s will.
1938 - ownership changed to S.S. Parker.
1938 – ownership changed to W.J. Goodwin.
1939 – ownership changed to L & R de Latorre
1940 – leases transferred to Owen’s Tongarra Collieries Pty Ltd. (sub leases to Latorre)
1943 – ownership changed to Excelsior Collieries & Coke Works Ltd.
1944 – sub lease to Excelsior Collieries & Coke Works Ltd from Tongarra Collieries Pty Ltd
1944 – Owens Tongarra and Tongarra now one colliery known as Tongarra Colliery
1948 – prospecting tunnel opened in No.3 seam
1960 – Placer Development Ltd takes over Excelsior Collieries and Coke Works Ltd (DoM Records)
1965 – production ceased with mine placed on care and maintenance
1970 – ownership changed to Clutha Development Pty Ltd.
References to coal mining in the Albion Park area.
“Brownlees had acquired land and were amongst the first settlers of Stockyard Mountain and Tongarra, also opening a Coal Mine.” (pp 35)
“Tallawarra Power Station has a capacity output of 320 megawatts from 6 coal burning units. Work was commenced on the site in 1948 and No. 1 Unit went into commercial operation in 1954, No. 2 in 1955, No. 3 in 1956, No. 4 in 1957, No. 5 in 1960 and No. 6 in 1961.
- J. Rowland is Power Station Superintendent. “(pp 115, 116)
……………..and the opening of a coal mine has brought activity to this beautiful spot once again.” (pp 122)
A sawmill, a coal mine and a proposed dam are all part of Tongarra’s history while a new route over the mountain to replace Macquarie Pass ……………”(pp 123)
The Town at the Crossroads A story of Albion Park.
By Stan Thomas First Pub. 1975 ISBN 0 9598373 1 0
Weston & Co Publishers Pty Ltd.
Extract from Green Meadows
“More success was achieved, but only in a small way, in the coal mining industry. Shellharbour municipality is essentially an agricultural district but from the seventies the presence of coal seams in the mountain near Macquarie Pass at Tongarra was talked about of until in 1893 William Brownlee, whose house was on a ridge leading up the hill, began driving a tunnel 800 feet a.s.l.
In August it was reported to have been driven 40 feet into a seam of the purest and best gas coal 22 feet thick. There were three other seams above it in turn 14 feet, 6 feet 8 inches and the topmost 4 feet 6 inches thick.
The mountain was said to contain haematite, fireclay and cement. All the leading coal mine and coke works managers had visited the locality and the coal was being used by the Tongarra creamery.
The mine was stated to be 11 miles from Fullers Bay at Shellharbour.
Percy Owen followed on in conjunction with Brownlee’s work in 1903 when he requested the council to carry out road work from Brownlee’s gate to the mine.
In 1904 the tunnel was in 300 feet and deposits paid on land for a railway line from the mine to the seaboard. Within a year the survey had been made as transport costs were militating against the success of the mine.
Murray Brownlee managed the mine for Yuill and Co. of Corrimal. (Early 1940’s)
The coal was proved equal to Newcastle coal leaving only a clean white ash.
By 1906 the proprietors hoped to interest the Australian Smelting Corporation in erecting its proposed new works at Shellharbour as vessels drawing 19 feet could berth alongside and Tongarra coal could be run down on the proposed tramway or railway. The corporation owned the Dapto smelting works but there was some doubt whether they would continue to operate and it was felt that the works would be erected at Pt. Pirie. However nothing came of the proposal.
In 1908 Owens developed the mine further but little seems to have been done during the next decade until in 1914 a six ton sample was sent to Sydney for test with a view to supplying the railway from Goulburn to the south in conjunction with the building of a railway to Moss Vale. William Brownlee expected to sell but little was done.
In 1918 people looked forward to the time “when the mineral wealth which abounded was tapped and the coal mines were in full swing they would hear the echo of children’s voices in Tongarra’s hills”. But that was for the future.
The coal mines at Tongarra and along the Illawarra coast drew from the resources of the mountain sides for timber supplies in the form of pit props and sawn hardwood. Cedar logs were also secured in the new century.” (pp109/110)
Photograph – Tongarra Coal Mine in 1959 (pp 118)
“Meanwhile in the mountains west of Albion Park at Tongarra, the coal mine developed in the early days of the century by Brownlee was progressively further developed by Dawson, Gillard and Latorre, until eventually it was taken over in 1943 by Excelsior Collieries of Thirroul. R. Fullager was manager, then A. Smith and from 1947 G. Roberts.
All coal produced was taken by road trucks to Tallawarra electric power station, the earlier railway proposals having never materialised.
Annual production grew from 26,000 tons in 1945 to 40,000 tons in the opening fifties. Mechanisation was then introduced and the production raised to 70,000 tons.
The mine works one shift daily and holds a record for continuity of production.” (pp155/156)
Green Meadows – Centenary History of Shellharbour Municipality
By William A. Bayley Published 1959
* extracted from “A Short History of the Tongarra Mine”- Compiled by Jim Derbyshire – Tongarra Heritage Society INC – July 1996
# extracted from “A Short History of the Tongarra Mine”- Compiled by Claude Harris – Tongarra Heritage Society INC – July 1996
* extracted from “A Short History of the Tongarra Mine”- Compiled by Jim Derbyshire – Tongarra Heritage Society INC – July 1996
## extracted from “A Short History of the Tongarra Mine”- Compiled by Leonie Knapman – Tongarra Heritage Society INC – July 1996