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Rhondda Colliery Coalface

The former Rhondda Colliery is being transformed into a motor park and multi-tourism hot spot, more than 120 years after mining started at the Lake Macquarie coal mine.

The Rhondda Colliery opened in 1900 and was calculated to have an output of 1500 tonnes per day. The colliery operated using a rope with skips – they were attached by clippers to bring coal to the surface and as the full skip went into the tipper it would push the empty one out that was then caught by a spiked creeper chain and carried to higher elevation.

An electrical transmission was set up at Rhondda in 1909 and by 1910, between 130 and 140 people were employed at the mine site including about 60 shooters and fillers who followed the machines that worked the seven feet six-inch seam.

More than 100 mineworkers and their families lived in the small mining township of Rhondda, now known as Wakefield, which dwindled down to 17 over the life of the mine. As of the 2016 census, 144 people lived in Wakefield.

In 1931, William Laidley and Company (Laidley was a conscientious and shrewd public figure of the 1800s who died in 1897) renamed the holding to Northern Colliery. A year later, the mine was bought by R W Miller and Company who operated numerous leases on the Greta Seam at Heddon Greta.

The Northern Colliery had a Coal Preparation Plant constructed and opened in 1958 and continued operating underground and some open cut until its closure in 1971. Rehabilitation of the site was finished in 2008, which included site remediation and revegetation.

Rhondda Colliery Coalface
L-R: Jack Blanche, Norm Stevens, George Drydon, Broncho Maclaughlan salvaging the continuous miners at Northern (Rhondda) Colliery) – 23 February 1967.

Since 2017, the site has been operated by Yancoal and the mining company has undertaken relinquishment of its mining lease, allowing construction to begin on a $95 million project which will create more than 450 jobs during construction and 229 permanent roles once it’s up and running.

After powering the nation with coal for all those years, the site will soon be home to the Black Rock Motor Resort which will see Lake Macquarie become home to Australia’s first dedicated recreation resort park for motoring enthusiasts.

It will include a world-class 5.25 kilometre driving circuit, a driver training centre, go-kart racing, adventure-tourism experiences, a function centre, short-term accommodation and a café.

Black Rock Motor Resort CEO and founder Tony Palmer said he can’t thank the NSW Government and Lake Macquarie City Council enough for supporting his vision.

“Black Rock Motor Resort is proud to be pioneering the adaptive re-use of a former coal mine into an exciting, world-class adventure tourism destination.

“The Resort will provide a range of motoring experiences including driver safety training for the young motorists of the region as well as exciting opportunities for the public to drive their own cars, or our cars, on the high-speed circuit.”

Rhondda Colliery Coalface
Drawing of what the future Black Rock Motor Sport track would look like.

Yancoal CEO David Moult said he is very pleased with the outcome.

“We are delighted to have reached this significant milestone, relinquishing formerly mined land after an extensive and successful rehabilitation program.

“Yancoal wishes the new owners every success in realising their motor sport complex vision.

“Yancoal recognises that land rehabilitation and relinquishment is an important part of responsible mining. Ensuring that land can continue to be an asset for the benefit of local communities after mining has concluded will continue to be a key aspiration for us into the future.”

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