Woonona Colliery [see Bellambi Colliery]
(aka Hale’s and Model Collieries)
Owner: John Hale
Owner: Bellambi Coal Co. Ltd. (Joseph Mitchell MLA and Frederick Woolcott-Waley)
Absorbed into South Bulli Colliery: 1926
1857 – Hale opens a new mine at Bellambi. Trial in November, the first shipment from Bellambi Harbour on Dec 17th 1857, with the cutter “Trial” loading 40 tons for the steamship “Washington”. (Royal Australian Historical Society – 1942)
1863 – Proposed auction of the Insolvent Estate of Thomas Hale and John McMullen and Company.
To be auctioned on 26th November, 1863 by T. W. Bowden, and consisting of:-
All interests in the unexpired term of leases for 21 years of 200 acres of lands known as the Woonona Coal Mines, situated at Bellambi, together with livestock, wagons and sundry rolling stock as per inventory.
The lease entitles the holder to dig and work all coal seams under the 200 acres of land known as Dixon’s Grant upon payment of 1s per ton upon the coal obtained. There are no encumbrances on this lease. The official plan shows the workings to be in the upper seams of coal, varying in thickness from seven to ten feet. There are several other coal seams on this land all of which can be entered by level adits, without any sinking. Two new seams have been opened and coal can be obtained directly with the present appliances.
The mines are free from water and within two and a half miles of the shipping port. Coal sold in the last quarter from these mines is upwards of 7500 tons, and are capable of producing 150 tons per day. The coal has been continuously dug for the last six years.
All of the plant, rolling stock and improvements now at the mine, or may be placed there, are, at the option of the owner of the land, to be purchased by him at the expiration of the lease, the value to be fixed by arbitration.
An enormous amount of money has been spent on plant and other things including;
- An underground tramway several miles in extent.
- 24 underground coal trucks carrying ½ ton each
- Twelve coal trucks carrying15 cwt each for outside works
- Tumbling–tom and first coal screen, made with furnace bars, tramway and trucks for removing slack coal
- Double line of railway to large drum, with turntable
- Building and drum-head, with wire rope and machinery for lowering coal down the first incline
- Double line of tramway down the first incline 150 yards in length
- Lower coal screens, with buildings, tumbling-tom, trucks and tram for removing slack coal
- Blacksmith’s shop, with forge, tools, iron, all complete for truck building and repairs
- New wire rope, etc. etc. etc.
With the above will be sold the right to the lease for twenty-one years of the coal deposit under 48 acres of land immediately behind the 200 acres, and for which the lessees will only have to pay the same 1s per ton royalty on the coal removal.
20 acres of the 200 acres is leased to the same parties for 21 years at £1 per acre, with the right to timber thereon subject to the lessors’ reservation of the ground forming the tramway to the mine or for other lines and roads. On this portion are three homes with gardens and fifteen miner’s cottages each let at 10s per month.
The leases are dated 1st October 1853, having nearly 16 years to run.
LOT 2 – The right, title and interest of the assignee in the fifth undivided share, held in conjunction with the Osborne-Wallsend Company of about 43 acres 2 roods of coal land, running from Dixon’s 200 acres to McCabe’s land and known as M. Keefe’s 50 acres. Terms at sale. (SMH 23rd November 1863)
1888 – “The old Woonona Colliery will soon commence sending out coal”. (SMH 28/9/1888)
1889 – “Mr. Joseph Mitchell, M.L.A., manager and director of the Woonona Colliery is proceeding rapidly with the construction of the jetty and the railway connecting the mine with the jetty at Bellambi. The railway is about 3 miles long and expected to be finished next month. The Jetty is about 1100 ft long and will be completed within a month. Vessels up to 1500 tons will be able to load there. The expected output from Woonona will be 400 tons daily at the start.” (SMH 2/4/1889)
1889 – “Mitchell’s Woonona coal mine will commence working on Monday next, [12/08/1889], the output is expected to be 400 tons per day.” (SMH 8/08/1889)
1889 – The official opening of the Woonona colliery, now under the control of Mr. Joseph Mitchell, M. L. A. to take place next Saturday (9/11/1889). The mine was formerly the property of Mr. John Hales of Sydney. After working for several years it ceased operations remaining idle for over 20 years. During that time the jetty and tramline had completely rotted away. (SMH 8/11/1889)
1889 – “The Bellambi Colliery at Bulli which is about to be worked by a Victorian company was formally opened by the Premier on Saturday (9/11/1889). The property formerly known as the Woonona Colliery has been closed for the last 25 years. A 1,000 ft jetty and 3 miles of rail track from pit mouth to jetty has been erected”. (The Argus, Melbourne 11/11/1889)
1889 – “Reopening of the Bellambi Colliery” – Bellambi is really a new name for an old mine. Some 25 or 30 years ago the late Mr. Thomas Hale commenced mining operations at this spot, on one of the lowest peaks of the main range. The workings were then known as Woonona. A series of non-successes brought about an abandonment of the mine and for years it has lain idle. Towards the end of September of last year the Bellambi Coal company was registered in Melbourne with a capital (subscribed privately) of £55,000 and the property of 779 acres was leased from the trustees of the Osborne estate. The work of development was undertaken by Messrs. Mitchell and Woolcott-Waley, commencing in October. A substantial jetty has since then been built (a portion of it was washed away during the storms in May last), a thousand feet long with a depth of water of 24 ft.; with three miles of railway have been constructed with all the necessary sidings, and connected to the Government line. The self-acting incline of 30 chains and fitted with drums and ropes and rollers, has the easiest gradient of any in the Southern district. A 20 ton locomotive, 100 ?-ton coal wagons, 200 skips, screens, weighbridge, stables, engine sheds and manager’s house. Messrs Harper and Harper were the engineers. The property consists of 779 acres, and the current seam of coal averages 7 ft thick. Three other seams are known to exist on the property, varying in thickness from 4 to 12 ft. The first seam is being reached through a new heading, excavated a little distance from the old entrance, and coal in small quantities has been obtained during the last two months. The estimated output of the mine is from 400 to 500 tons per diem. During the opening ceremony it was stated that Bellambi Coal Company was purchasing the whole of the adjoining South Bulli Colliery’s output, the contract being for nearly 500,000 tons in the next three years. (SMH 11th Nov 1889)
1889 – Fatality – 4th Sep. Robert Moore, miner, by fall of stone from roof. 72 men employed u/g (DoMAR 1889)
1890 – ……. “by Mr. John Williams, manager of the Woonona Colliery” (SMH 24/5/1890)
1890 – About 90 men employed up to time of strike (DoMAR 1890)
1890 – Woonona Colliery incline track work and rolling stock was damaged by “larrikins” to an estimated £1,200. This was apparently triggered by Jas. Mitchell, colliery owner, with his decision to set non-unionists to work. The mine is now under police protection with Mitchell vowing never to allow unionists on the property. (Advertiser, Adelaide, 24th Oct 1890)
1890 – Havoc at the property of Mr. Joseph Mitchell, M. L. A. when a large number of wagons were sent adrift from the steep tramway, tracks were torn up and points tampered with to render them useless. The telephone line was destroyed. A number of men and women visited the free-labourers camp near Mitchell’s jetty and maintained a continuous pandemonium all night, hurling insults and threats incessantly. Mrs Mitchell and family residing nearby now fear for their own safety. Fifty police are on duty guarding the free-labourers camp. (Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser, 25th Oct 1890)
1891 - About 70 men and horses employed u/g (DoMAR 1891)
1893 – An explanation/correction to the Editor of the Sydney Morning Herald, relating to a previous article by the newspaper, of the basis of an agreement at the mine between the manager, F. Woolcott Waley and the miners. FREDK. WOOLCOTT WALEY, Manager, Bellambi Coal Company, Limited, Proprietors Woonona Colliery (SMH 19th May 1893)
1895 – A notice was posted at the colliery that after 14 days labour was no longer required at the mine. (Aust. Town & Country Journal, 30/3/1895)
1896 – The Woonona Colliery, which has been closed for over a year, will start to work again. (SMH 4/5/1896)
1896 - Woonona Colliery, which has been closed for 12 months, will re-open today. (Barrier Miner, Broken Hill, 4/5/1896)