Mining, fishing, dairy farming and more – explore how industries of Shellharbour City have developed and changed over the years.


Cedar played an important role in the region. Learn about forest clearing at Tongarra. In the early 1800 free permits were given to cattlemen so they could bring their cattle down to the meadows and open pastures to graze.

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Illawarra Cooperative Central Dairy

Illawarra Cooperative Central Dairy opened on 27 September 1899. The Illawarra Cooperative Central Dairy (ICCD) Factory produced its famous Warrilla (correct spelling) brand butter from 1956. The name Warrilla is a derivative of the name Illawarra.

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The sale of the Peterborough Estate on the eastern side of Lake Illawarra in 1921, saw new towns emerge. The holiday season in 1927, saw over 2000 holiday makers camped on the shores at Lake South.

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Surf Life Saving

In 1925, the Shellharbour District Surf and Life Saving Club was formed, and new surf sheds were opened at the beach. In 1937, a meeting was called at the Shellharbour Hotel to kick-start the Surf Club.

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Mining – Lime

Shell-lime manufacture occurred in the early days of European settlement at Shellharbour. In the mid 19th century, masses of shells on beach foreshores were collected and burnt to make lime for building mortar.

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Tallawarra Power Station

Tallawarra Power station began operations in 1954 as a coal-fired power station. Tallawarra employed hundreds of locals for decades until its closure in 1989.

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The Hockey family were arguably the most well-known fishing family in Shellharbour. Mostly, they caught salmon, mullet, bream, blackfish or jewfish.

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Mining – Basalt

Shellharbour is rich with basalt. In the mid-19th century, the land was scattered with blue metal which was put to good use, building drystone walls for fencing and piggeries, and in the construction of homes and public buildings.

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Mining – Tongarra Mine

Tongarra Coal Mine was central to the area’s success. In the late 1850s, William Brownlee purchased 236 acres in the foothills of the escarpment at Tongarra. He built a cottage of local sandstone which still stands today.

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Opening hours

Monday  9.30am–8pm
Tuesday 9:30am–8pm
Wednesday 9:30am–8pm

Thursday 9:30am–8pm

Friday 9.30am–5pm
Saturday 9am–3pm
Sunday 12pm–3pm