Coal occurs in many places throughout the Bay
but nowhere were the seams as promising as at Puponga, where the
mine opened up in 1899. A railway linked the mine with Port Puponga
where a long wharf, said by some to be the longest in the southern
hemisphere, stood out into the shallow bay. The early 1900's saw
the population of Puponga swell to several hundred, supporting two
general stores, a billiard saloon, a bake-house, two boarding houses
plus dance hall, post office and a two-teacher school.
The "Number-one" mine was closed by
flooding and a strike in 1916; smaller seams were then worked. The
township shrank. The nearby "Cape Mine" closed in the
early 1930s and the "Township Mine" closed ten years
later. However, a resurgence of interest saw the old "Number-one
Mine" dewatered by electric pumps in the late 1950s and
this produced coal until the early 1970s when all mining stopped.
Despite the recent closure, there is little to
be seen today. The main pit-head is a wilderness of gorse, its buildings
torn down; the railway and wharf were in ruins many years before.
Some of the houses standing today in Puponga belonged to the mine
and there are still many local people who can tell you of the times
when Puponga coal powered much local industry.
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