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How it all began


Illawarra Mercury Wednesday 31st of July 2002

Why do we have a festival in Mt Kembla?


Since our inauguration in 2001, the Mt. Kembla Mining Festival is perhaps the most beloved of all committee achievements!


However, the committee plays a very active and significant role as part of the many layers that form our small rural community.


We are passionate about the appropriate recognition and marking of the very significant Old Mt Kembla Mine Site, which stands guard over the history/heritage of the region like an ancient sentinel. It needs revitalising and our group, together with several other stakeholders such as NPWS, Mt Kembla Mine Memorial Pathway Group, WCC, Dendrobium Mine/Illawarra Coal and NSW Heritage, are undertaking the diverse and involved task to begin to do just that.


We envisage the Mine Memorial Pathway will become a link to the old Mt Kembla mine site area which in turn will link to a heritage walking/mining heritage trail.


A key activity and objective for the group is developing and promoting the region via community business partnering and promoting social responsibility. This initiative is presented at our annual festival, and highlights the work of successful community business partnering.


There are several additional significant sites such as Windy Gully Cemetery, Soldiers & Miners Memorial Church and cemetery, the appropriate marking of Soldiers Rd (now Harry Graham Dr) and the various additional, above-ground evidence of a previous life in the region.


We intend to see a mining heritage interpretive centre established in Mt Kembla, adjacent to a Local History & Family History centre. Our team of volunteers have spent many hours researching historical documents, items & photographs and collecting, managing and housing our collection. This will enable us to develop, write and publish interpretive material, ranging from local Aboriginal history to first white settlers, the region’s pastoral settlement, mining history, war service records and family history.


Without visual aids such as photographs, few visitors would be aware of the diversity of trades, activities and skills that were practised here in Mt Kembla from the early 1800s.


People from all over the world recognise the importance of small communities and their place in the history of the nation.

In our research and history collection we have witnessed people of all ages interacting with one another – helping us to create a sense of well being, belonging and social cohesion. Community pride has been strengthened; youth have learned from the aged and the aged from youth… total enjoyment for all and community pride is increased and respected.

Our motto: - “the past we inherit - the future we build” encapsulates entirely what we are about

Heritage studies from our beginning in 2001 both mining & social have unearthed a treasure-trove of local & regional, industrial & social history, which illuminates a foundation of physical & cultural heritage, hard won by the founders of the local area. This foundation was laid down with great hardship and sacrifice.

The builders of the Mt Kembla area were no ordinary people; they set a high standard in the feeling and spirit of community. We should do no less.

Cate Stevenson OAM
July 2007

Post script - Sadly Cate Stevenson died 2nd April, 2008

1902 Mt Kembla Disaster Commemorated - Cate Stevenson
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