Dombarton Open Cut Mine

In an area named Dombarton in West Dapto the Wongawilli Seam outcrops on the escarpment, adjacent to rail sidings on the Unanderra to Moss Vale railway. In the 1950/55 period, coal mining leases were obtained by the late Mr. Gordon Sellars for land portions in the area.  In 1950 the Austin and Butta Company was engaged to drive an exploration tunnel into the Wongawilli seam. Following the completion of the above driveage, the Austen and Butta Company commenced a small open cut mining operation in the Wongawilli seam, in Portions 229 and 230, and completed the extraction of coal from those areas in 1955.

Unanderra to Moss Vale Railway, 1973
From the collections of the Wollongong City Library
and the Illawarra Historical Society P09583

Dombarton Colliery 1967

Following the earlier open cut operation, an underground mine was opened in the Wongawilli seam in 1967 in an area adjacent to the open cut site.  This area of coal was bounded by the Wongawilli and Nebo Collieries’ leases, to the south, north and west.

The mine entries were driven from the seam outcrop, initially in a westerly direction, with the main development of the mine being to the north, along the line of the Escarpment. The coal was mined using a continuous miner, shuttle cars and conveyor belts; rubber tyred vehicles were used for the transport of men and materials to and from the surface.  A coal washing plant was erected at the mine site, and coal from the washery was transported by road to the company’s stockpile at the Port Kembla Harbour export coal loading terminal.

Starting to mine new shaft, Dombarton Colliery 1967
From the collections of the Wollongong City Library
and the Illawarra Historical Society (P19244)

By the late 1960s the colliery’s bord and pillar mining development had reached its most northerly point, and the extraction of pillars commenced. These mining operations were to lead to the undermining of the Escarpment, and a substantial rock fall occurred, from the face of the Escarpment as a result.  The NSW Department of Mines determined that further falls from the Escarpment would occur from further mining, and ordered the cessation of any further pillar extraction at the colliery.

Escarpment Rock fall –Dombarton Colliery – 1970
From the collection of Ron Cairns

The Mines Department also issued a Notice to the management of the Nebo Colliery at Mount Kembla who were developing mining panels to the north of this area, to create a coal barrier in those underground workings.  This barrier was required to create a 35 degree “angle of draw” from the edge of the Escarpment.  Compliance with and the effectiveness of those requirements, was to be monitored, by conducting ongoing subsidence surveys.  No further falls from the Escarpment occurred following the adoption of the above measures.

The Dombarton Colliery closed in 1970 and all the plant and equipment at the mine site was dismantled and transferred to the Yellow Rock Colliery where the coal washery was re-erected.