History: Looking Back

Looking Back feature: Waterworth the pioneer whip

James Waterworth on his first coach which travelled between Illawarra and Campbelltown.


THE eagerly awaited arrival of the iron horse to the Illawarra in 1886 awoke the world to what is known today as Lawrence Hargrave Drive and its scenic splendour, altering the coastal bush track from a quiet local thoroughfare into a busy main road linking Sydney to Wollongong.

Soon after the opening of the railway to Waterfall on March 1, the magnificent views from Bald Hill were described by a coach passenger on his way from Wollongong to meet the morning train at the Waterfall Railway terminus:

“Every passenger on the coach gazed as if spell bound upon the enchanting scene presented by Stanwell Park, Coal-Cliff, the Five Islands, and other interesting headlands jutting out along the coast line as far as the eye could scan southward. So magnificent an expanse of bejewelled sea and land, as it were, illuminated by the beaming rays of the bright morning sun, was such a sight as does fall to the lot of every person to see even once in a lifetime, and having been seen can never be forgotten.”

Prior to the opening of the railway to Waterfall, the quickest and most convenient route to the city was a seven hour trip on Waterworth’s Line of Coaches over Bulli Pass to Appin, and on to Campbelltown Railway Station for a train to Sydney. With the completion of the Sydney to Waterfall railway, Illawarra was a whisker away from rail travel and enterprising business people spied the opportunity to provide a shuttle coaching service to Waterfall.

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About Mick Roberts

A journalist, writer and historian, Mick Roberts specialises in Australian cultural history, particularly associated with the Australian hotel and liquor industry. Mick has had an interest in revealing the colourful story of Australian pubs and associated industries for over 30 years. He is working on a comprehensive history of the hotel and liquor industry in the Illawarra region of NSW. Besides writing a number of history books, Mick managed several community newspapers. He has been editor of the Wollongong Northern News, The Bulli Times, The Northern Times, The Northern Leader and The Local - all located in the Wollongong region. As a journalist he has worked for Rural Press, Cumberland (News Limited), the Sydney city newspaper, City News, and Torch Publications based in Canterbury Bankstown, NSW.


3 thoughts on “Looking Back feature: Waterworth the pioneer whip

  1. Mick, I am trying to find out more about the supposed coach house just over Fairy Creek near the intersection of Bourke St and Flinders St. Do you know anything about it.
    In the coaching timetables did they give a list of stops other than the terminuses.

    Doug Boleyn d.s.boleyn@optusnet.com.au

    Liked by 1 person

    Posted by Doug Boleyn | June 25, 2020, 11:33 am
    • Hi Doug. That coach house has interested me for a while, too… I have never come across any info on it… I’ve never seen it listed as a coach stop on any timetable. I would love to hear about any information you dig up on it.


      Posted by Mick Roberts | June 25, 2020, 11:43 am
  2. Hello, I am looking for anyone who remembers when Clifton’s pubs, the Imperial and the Scarborough, were a big centre for gay men to meet back in the 1930s to 1960s, most coming down from Sydney. This is for a history podcast I’m doing. I’m based at the Uni of Wollongong. Any thoughts or memories would be very welcome. I’m on podcastpolly@gmail.com Thanks! Siobhan

    Liked by 1 person

    Posted by Siobhán McHugh | July 17, 2020, 6:38 pm

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