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There is part of my heart in Wonthaggi*

May 5, 2020 @ 8:15 am - 5:45 pm

$30 – $55

This event is currently cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It may be postponed until later in the year. For those who have booked  a full-refund will be issued.

The RHSV is reviving a wonderful old tradition of organising tours to our colleagues in historical societies across rural and regional Victoria. First cab off the rank is Wonthaggi – a town with an unusual history as a State Modern Town.

Some members will want the flexibility and independence of driving themselves to Wonthaggi, and others, wanting to be driven,  can join our mini-bus for 11 passengers. So those driving themselves to Wonthaggi will meet us at the Wonthaggi Historical Society at 10:30am and will then say goodbye at the end of the tour of the State Mine.


8:15am       leave RHSV, 239 A’Beckett St, Melbourne

9:10am       pick up passengers at Mt Waverley (pick up point tba)

10:30am    arrive Wonthaggi Museum, Wonthaggi Historical Society,

Railway Station, Murray Street.

We’ll have a cuppa and talk with the members of the WHS before a tour of

their museum and a walking tour of the town.

12:45pm      lunch at the Wonthaggi Workers Club, 75 Graham Street

2:00pm        arrive at State Coal Mine for a 2:30pm private tour. (Garden St)

3:30pm        depart for Melbourne

5pm              drop people at Mt Waverley

5:45pm         arrive back at RHSV.

Lunch is not included in the ticket prices as it is simpler if everyone makes their choices on the day and pays individually for their lunch.

The Wonthaggi and District Historical Society had its beginning in the late 1950’s with the recognition that Wonthaggi’s history should be preserved. A public meeting was held and the historical society was formed. Over the ensuing years the collection of artifacts has grown, as has its collection of photographs and documents. The society has copies of local newspapers, dating back to 1910, and audio tapes of many and varied speakers with their rich tapestry of experiences.

Lunch will be in the bistro at the Wonthaggi Workmens Club which was founded in 1911 when the Victorian Government attempted to deal with the drinking problem in mining communities. Clubs were, supposedly, where men could drink and socialise in a civilised manner. The Wonthaggi Workmen’s Co-operative Club grew out of the Workmen’s Club movement in the UK – similar to Mechanics Institutes – places where the working man could be educated and elevated whilst drinking in a civilised manner!

Wonthaggi State Coal Mine

At the beginning of the twentieth century black coal from NSW powered Victoria’s railway system, gasworks and manufacturing industries. In 1909 a prolonged strike on the NSW coalfields threatened Victoria’s economic viability, and the Victorian Government sought to end its dependence by mining its own, poorer-quality coal deposits in South Gippsland at Wonthaggi which at the time was sparsely settled and possessed no transport links with Melbourne. The first shipment of Wonthaggi coal occurred on 25 November 1909 being dispatched by bullock teams to Inverloch and thence by ship to Melbourne. Three months later transportation by rail commenced after a 27 mile line was constructed from Nyora in the record time of 10 weeks. In 1910 the Government laid out a model township which, by 1921, had a population of 5,000+ making Wonthaggi one of the largest towns in Gippsland.

The Wonthaggi State Coal Mine developed into a huge mining complex which operated until 1968. Within the first year of operation a power station was built to supply electricity to the whole area and installation was under way of the necessary engineering works for mining, ventilation, water drainage, haulage, and coal processing. The mine’s peak period of employment was the year 1925-26 when 1,821 men were employed. During its operational life, the Wonthaggi State Coal Mine produced 16.74 million tons, making the field the largest black coal producer in the State’s history and the fourth largest in Australia.

* There is Part of my Heart in Wonthaggi was written in 1934 by Jack O’Hagan, best known for Along the Road to Gundagai. He was commissioned by the Government to tour towns in Victoria & write a theme song for each town. When the soldiers marched home this is the song they sang. 


May 5, 2020
8:15 am - 5:45 pm
$30 – $55


Royal Historical Society of Victoria
03 9326 9288


Royal Historical Society of Victoria
239 A'Beckett St
Melbourne, VIC 3000 Australia
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9326 9288