What is significant?
At the beginning of the twentieth century black coal powered the State's railway system. There was also an insatiable demand for black coal from Melbourne's engineering works, agricultural processing plants, gas works, and food and drink factories. The source of this coal was New South Wales. In 1909 a prolonged strike on the New South Wales coalfields threatened Victoria's economic credibility, and the Victorian Government sought to end its dependence by mining its own, poorer-quality coal deposits in East Gippsland (which had been known since 1825). In 1909 drilling operations commenced at Wonthaggi which at the time was sparsely settled and possessing no transport links with Melbourne. The first Government mining shafts were sunk in the Central Area in the same year, the coal raised by small oil engines was dispatched by bullock teams to Inverloch and thence by ship to Melbourne. The Wonthaggi State Coal developed into a huge mining complex which operated until 1968. Working underground at Wonthaggi was very dangerous and there was a high level of mine accidents resulting in men dying in explosions, under roof collapses, or ripped apart after becoming entangled in the rope haulage system. The 1937 shaft explosion at No.20 shaft was the worst accident in the mine's history with thirteen men dying underground. The No.20 shaft explosion occurred during a period when the mine was spiralling into decline: to be profitable the mine had to produce 500,000 tons per annum, and it had not been able to produce this amount since 1934. The underground disaster contributed to the mine producing only half the required yield in 1937 and led to the relationship between the Miners Union and management reaching an all time low.
How is it significant?
The Wonthaggi State Coal mine is of historical and scientific importance to the State of Victoria.
Why is it significant?
The Wonthaggi State Coal Mine Northern Precinct is historically significant as the site of the worst accident in the State Coal Mine's history. Particularly when viewed alongside contemporary documents, the mine site commemorates the perils of underground mining at Wonthaggi and makes a unique contribution to defining the character of the Wonthaggi State Coal Mine. The place also has the potential to yield significant archaeological evidence of the technological development of coal mining in Victoria.
General Exemptions:General exemptions apply to all places and objects included in the Victorian Heritage Register (VHR). General exemptions have been designed to allow everyday activities, maintenance and changes to your property, which don’t harm its cultural heritage significance, to proceed without the need to obtain approvals under the Heritage Act 2017.Specific exemptions may also apply to your registered place or object. If applicable, these are listed below. Specific exemptions are tailored to the conservation and management needs of an individual registered place or object and set out works and activities that are exempt from the requirements of a permit. Specific exemptions prevail if they conflict with general exemptions. Find out more about heritage permit exemptions here.Specific Exemptions:General Conditions:
1. All exempted alterations are to be planned and carried out in a manner which prevents damage to the fabric of the registered place or object.
2. Should it become apparent during further inspection or the carrying out of alterations that original or previously hidden or inaccessible details of the place or object are revealed which relate to the significance of the place or object, then the exemption covering such alteration shall cease and the Executive Director shall be notified as soon as possible.
3. If there is a conservation policy and plan approved by the Executive Director, all works shall be in accordance with it.
4. Nothing in this declaration prevents the Executive Director from amending or rescinding all or any of the permit exemptions.
Nothing in this declaration exempts owners or their agents from the responsibility to seek relevant planning or building permits from the responsible authority where applicable.
No permits are required for the following class of works provided they are addressed by, and carried out in accordance with, a professionally prepared Conservation-Management Plan:
* Public Safety,
* Weed and Vermin control,
* Conservation and maintenance of archaeological relics and objects,
* Tourism and recreational amenities, and
* Cultural landscape.