Culture and heritage
Prior to European settlement, the Wonthaggi area was inhabited by the indigenous Bunurong people, who travelled to the coast seeking shellfish and stone for tool making. Explorer William Hovell discovered black coal in the cliffs at nearby Cape Paterson in 1826. Small and isolated mining operations followed in the 1840s-1860s.
From the 1880s onwards exploratory drilling operation commenced in the scrub-covered Wonthaggi area. Although small private coal mines had opened in the Korumburra area in the 1880s-1890s, Victoria was still dependant on New South Wales for vital coal supplies.
In 1909, a miners' strike starved the Victorian Railways and Melbourne's coal industry, forcing a hasty development of the Wonthaggi mines as a public enterprise.
Emergency shaft sinking operations began in November 1909. In a primitive process, coal was lifted up the shaft in wicker baskets, then hauled by bullock wagon to Inverloch, to be conveyed by sea to Melbourne.
By February 1910 a direct rail link had been made to Wonthaggi. Increasing numbers of miners, business and tradespeople were accommodated in tents for a period of 6 months. Realising the future potential for the coal mines, the township of Wonthaggi was surveyed, and one hundred miners cottages constructed by mid-1910.
Expansion of the coal field followed through the 1910s and 1920s, with the establishment of a powerhouse and workshops complex, a brickworks and nine well equipped mines. The town of Wonthaggi grew to a population of up to 10,000 during this period. Employment and production reached its peak in 1929-30, with over 1,800 men employed in mining 660,000 tons of coal in that financial year.
The 1930s depression severely affected the State Coal Mine. A significant number of men were laid off in 1932. Industrial unrest followed, with a 5 month strike ensuing in 1934. Three years later, an underground explosion in No. 20 Shaft killed thirteen men. Union/management animosity reached its peak following this disaster.
DeclineThe mine ran at a financial loss to the Government from the 1930s onwards. Two further mines were opened, but failed to slow the decline. Through the 1950s, steam trains were being replaced by diesel and electric locomotives, resulting in reduced demand for black coal. From 1958, no new workers were employed, and early retirement was introduced for the older mine employees. When the last mine closed in 1968, only 100 men remained. The town of Wonthaggi survived by encouraging the establishment of other industries.
07 Feb 2014
With severe and extreme fire conditions forecast across Victoria and a Total Fire Ban in place for the weekend, Parks Victoria and the Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) are urging visitors to parks and forests to plan carefully, and take care in the heat. Parks Victoria’s Manager Fire…
12 Mar 2014
The Grey-headed Flying-fox is the largest flying-fox (also known as a fruit bat) species in Australia. Each month the Australian Research Centre for Urban Ecology conduct the monthly bat count at Yarra Bend Park at dusk on the Wednesday evening closest to the risen full moon. This data is critical…
15 Mar 2014 9:00am - 16 Mar 2014 5:00pm
The Back to Steiglitz community art group will have an exhibition in St Paul's church, Steiglitz. There will be 4 artists displaying their works in a variety of mediums and styles. Historic buildings will be open to the public. The Back to Steiglitz group will provide food and drinks for…
23 Mar 2014 9:00am-3:00pm
Help create koala habitat and learn about koalas. Enjoy a day helping Koalas in the wild. Search for koalas, monitor their behaviour, remove weeds from their habitat and take records of all other wildlife seen, all in the company of a highly experienced Koala Researcher. Part of the day is…
23 Mar 2014 11:00am-3:30pm
Live.Grow.Explore. Community Day brings community together to explore their broader backyard and to learn more about sustainable lifestyle choices in one of Melbourne's most extensive landcare and reinvigoration corridors. This FREE family event and BBQ lunch showcases many sustainable education stalls. The day includes Vasili Kanidiadis of Vasilis Garden to…
Happy International Women’s Day! Photo: Ranger Deb Cross at the Gil Groggin Fir...Happy International Women’s Day! Photo: Ranger Deb Cross at the Gil Groggin Fire north of Buchan.View post | Sat, 08 Mar 2014 09.42
The Mt Zero area in Grampians National Park has re-opened in time for the long w...The Mt Zero area in Grampians National Park has re-opened in time for the long weekend to provide visitors with a walking experience in the Northern Grampians. Many areas in the park are now open after the fire in January. Full details here http://ow.ly/ukBMTView post | Fri, 07 Mar 2014 17.11
Thanks to all our Facebook friends who have sent in their favourite park photos...Thanks to all our Facebook friends who have sent in their favourite park photos this week to help inspire your next park visit. Enjoy your local parks and beyond this long weekend to help celebrate the end of Parks Week.Friends Parks Week photosThanks to all our Facebook friends who have sent in their favourite park photos this week to help inspire your next park visit. Enjoy your local parks and beyond this long weekend to help celebrate the end of Parks Week.View post | Fri, 07 Mar 2014 13.45
Introducing the newest recruit to join the Werribee Park horticultural team, See...Introducing the newest recruit to join the Werribee Park horticultural team, See Me. He is from the Karen people of Burma and lived for 15 years in a refugee camp before coming to Australia. See Me is being sponsored by Matchworks and will be working with us for the next 11 months while he completes a Certificate Three in Horticulture. We’re celebrating the many park connections with Victoria’s rich multicultural community during Parks Week. http://ow.ly/ui2jQView post | Thu, 06 Mar 2014 16.14
Clean Up Australia Day events at Kalimna Park and Golden Point Reserve last week...Clean Up Australia Day events at Kalimna Park and Golden Point Reserve last weekend resulted in 4 cubic metres of rubbish being removed from the bush in and around Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park. We would like to say a big thank you to all the volunteers for their efforts on the day. http://ow.ly/uhMnvView post | Thu, 06 Mar 2014 11.43