History of the Coal Loader

The Coal Loader, on the western side of Waverton peninsula, is a special site where many paths of history intersect.

The peninsula was first a place of physical and spiritual sustenance for Aboriginal Australians. The Cammeraygal people lived on the peninsula for thousands of years. Evidence of their presence, in the form of a large rock carving, still survives at the site (protected and celebrated as central element of the newly-built Coal Loader Centre for Sustainability).

The Coal Loader, itself, is a former industrial site that operated from the early 1920s to the early 1990s. It functioned primarily as a transfer depot for coal from bulk carriers to smaller coal-fired vessels. Some coal was also distributed to the local market by road transport.

A major component of the coal-loading operation was the extensive elevated platform structure, which housed a large coal stockpile.

Beneath the platform are a series of tunnels, each with a number of chutes through which the coal was transferred into coal 'skips'. The skips operated on a cable-hauled railway system that ran as a continuous loop through the two western-most tunnels and then out onto the finger wharf in Balls Head Bay, where they loaded waiting steamers. This loading system was replaced by a high speed conveyor in the mid 1970s which then serviced ships carrying export coal until 1992.

The site operated for over 70 years before being decommissioned.

It was dedicated as public open space in 1997, and formally transferred to North Sydney Council in 2003.

Since that time Council worked with a broad range of stakeholders to transform the site into the Coal Loader Centre for Sustainability.

The project was funded by a $1.87 million grant from the Australian Government, $860,000 from the NSW Government, and $3 million from North Sydney Council.

The Coal Loader Centre for Sustainability was opened in July 2011.

The Coal Loader platform opened in March 2018.


Become a Volunteer Guide!

Do you have a passion for history or sustainability? Then join our volunteer guide program!

We are looking for enthusiastic volunteers to guide free tours of this historic site. Call us on 9936 8100 for more information.