Written and researched by Bonnie Murdoch.
The Wallarah Jetty at Catherine Hill Bay has a long history and connection with coal. Coal was discovered in 1867 after the Catherine Hill schooner ran aground. Coal mining operations began with the New Wallsend Company, which brought up the land, built the jetty and opened the mine. The first shipment was made from the giant ocean jetty on the 17th of December 1873.
The jetty was not above natural or man-made accidents. In 1892, the Master, Mr Benson, was washed overboard the jetty. Luckily, some of the men threw a rope over the jetty, which Benson caught, yet he still spent half an hour trying to get back on the jetty. On August 1917 there was an attempt made at 3am to destroy the jetty with dynamite. Residents were woken with a loud explosion, yet only a few piles were splintered and the decking torn. Police made no arrests. Ample lighting was arranged throughout the night.
When the Wallarah and Moonee collieries closed, mining ceased and the jetty closed down in 2002. It cost Lake Coal, the owners, $200,000 annually to maintain the jetty.
The bushfires of 2013 affected the jetty. The timber sections of the jetty suffered fire damage. Overall, the steel and concrete structure remained sound. Sections of the jetty did have to be removed since they threatened public safety. The historic jetty was not included in the heritage listing of Catherine Hill Bay. The Wallarah Jetty remains in the hands of Lake Coal. In 2010, estimation was made that a restoration of the jetty would cost $3 million.
This work by Lake Macquarie City Library is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License