Down Memory Lane: The collieries’ tram lines

By Jack Devitt *

A South Bulli Colliery locomotive hauling wagons to the Bellambi jetty, 1906. Picture: National Library of Australia
The South Bulli Colliery’s Bellambi Jetty, 1906. Picture: National Library of Australia

THE railway line coming down from the South Bulli Colliery at Bellambi crossed the Princes Highway via a set of power operated gates (the control tower of the same preserved).

The line ran parallel to Bellambi Lane, which was then only a lane, past the Bellambi pub and across the Government railway line, again via power operated gates controlled from Bellambi Station on to the Bellambi jetty.

A spur line ran into a big marshalling yard on the northern side adjacent to the BHP owned Bellambi Coke Works, which had been originally established to provide coke for the Port Pirie Smelters in South Australia, the coke being shipped from the jetty.

At the jetty end of the line a branch meandering across the paddocks of the Illawarra Meat Company’s slaughter house, crossing the Government line at the Illawarra Brick Company’s plant, long since gone, and close to the Chesalon Nursing Home, Woonona, found its way to Monie Street to Pendlebury’s brickworks which it supplied with coal and trucked back to the siding at Illawarra Brick Company.

The South Bulli Colliery’s loco on the Bellambi Jetty, 1906. Picture: National Library of Australia
The approach to the Bellambi Jetty, 1906. Picture: National Library of Australia

The line proceeded westward past Pendulbury’s to the foot of the incline of the Model Coal Mine, first opened in 1857, closed in 1863, then opened and closed spasmodically until 1924, when the seam was worked from South Bulli Colliery. This was quite an efficient railway system at the time, before the days of huge motor truck haulage.

The locos were always kept in tip top condition at the mine’s extensive workshop. Two of the locos are preserved, standing in Corrimal Memorial Park and beside the Black Diamond Heritage Centre at Bulli Railway Station. Where Chesalon Nursing Home, Woonona now stands, there was a very imposing double storey brick residence, belonging to the mine manager, Mr. A. . O. Sellars, who, I was told, had planted by the cutters a young tree for every one felled for pit props – an early environmentalist it seems!

Where the South Bulli Colliery’s tramway crossed the Princes Highway at Bellambi, 1970. Picture: Wollongong City Libraries
Placing the old South Bulli Loco in Corrimal Memorial Park, 1969. Picture: Wollongong City Libraries

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