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By MICK ROBERTS ©
ALTHOUGH supposedly handy with the whip, the real story of Thomas Kelly’s career as a coachman is littered with incidents of erratic driving, and accidents, which in the end left him a cripple.
The son of an Irish convict, Tom is arguably second only to the legendary James Waterworth as the Illawarra’s best-known coach operator. However, unlike Waterworth, who plied the Campbelltown to Wollongong route at the same time, Kelly, for reasons that will become apparent, never secured the prestigious, and lucrative, government mail contract.
The Sydney railway arrived at Campbelltown in 1858 – 30 years before Wollongong. As a result, a coach road, built in the late 1850s via Appin and over the notorious Bulli mountain, became the preferred route between Illawarra and Sydney.
Coach stops were provided for passengers at the pubs in the main service centres like Appin, Bulli, Woonona and Wollongong. The…
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