Joadja kerosene oil shale mining and refining site | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Joadja kerosene oil shale mining and refining site

Item details

Name of item: Joadja kerosene oil shale mining and refining site
Type of item: Archaeological-Terrestrial
Group/Collection: Mining and Mineral Processing
Category: Mine site
Location: Lat: -34.3983802555 Long: 150.2222660290
Primary address: Joadja Road, Joadja, NSW 2575
Parish: Joadja
County: Camden
Local govt. area: Wingecarribee
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Illawarra
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT11 DP858859
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Joadja RoadJoadjaWingecarribeeJoadjaCamdenPrimary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Southern Frontier Pty LtdPrivate 

Statement of significance:

Joadja is of State and National heritage significance. It is one of the most important nineteenth century industrial and archaeological mining relics in Australia, and certainly the most spectacular of the early shale mining sites in New South Wales. It is extremely rare in its level of preservation which maintains the relationships between industrial sites and habitation sites with very little twentieth century intursion. Joadja demonstrates close links with Scotland through technology, managers, miners and refinery workers. The outline of much of the site is still available from surface evidence. Enough is still standing to allow industrial archaeologists to learn a great deal about early mining towns and about the technology of kerosene shale refining. (Simpson 1978) (Jack 1995)

By heating shale in the unique D-shaped iron 'retorts', the Australian Kerosene Oil and Mineral Company produced kerosene, candles, wax and oil between the 1870s and 1911. (modified AHC press release, 5/2004).
Date significance updated: 02 May 01
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.

Description

Construction years: 1870-1911
Physical description: Joadja is the site of an abandoned shale oil mining and refining site. The complex comprises Carrington Row, School of Arts, School, Boarding House, Stringybark Row, Cemetery, Refinery, Retorts, Experimental Retort, Inclines and Railways, Post Office, Manageers Homestead and Orchard.

Carrington Row - Six intact brick houses (originally 14). Fireplaces at either end. The street is planted with acacia and sycamore. Corrugated iron roofs. Doors, floors and windows have been removed.
School of Arts - rectangular building with brick walls.
School - remains of a stone building with outide privy.
Boarding House - remains of a substantial rectangular brick building with standing chimney.
Stringybark Row - cut and rubble stone marks the location of fireplaces and chimneys.
Cemetery - At least 124 burials are known for the cemetery. About 30 graves are obvious. There are 17 monuments most of which are sandstone stelae. Some graves are marked by surrounds of brick or stone only. Several graves have good quality cast or wrought iron surrounds.
Refinery, Retorts, Experimental Retort, Inclines and Railways -
The benches of retorts are arranged in two parallel rows, running for 100 metres north-west to south-west. 16 retorts to each north-west bench and 17 to each south-east bench. Chimney stacks attached to the north west benches of which only 1 remains. Constructed of local bricks with stonework ends. Thirty-five retorts remain in situ.
Post Office - standing walls of a rectangular brick building with chimney
Homestead and Orchard - one storey residence with verandah. Orchard originally covered 67 acres with 6700 fruit trees to feed the village it is now a grassed area. (Jack 1995)(Australian Heritage Commission)
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Physical Condition varies throughout the site. Archaeological potential is high.
Date condition updated:30 Sep 97
Modifications and dates: 1876 - Australian Kerosene Oil and Mineral Company formed
c1877 - homestead for manager erected
1878 - Post Office established
1878 to1883 - D-shaped retorts installed
1880 - boarding house erected
1882 - Carrington row built
1886 - School of Arts built
1903 - mining ceased and Joadja works closed
1905 - bushfire swept through Joadja
1911 - property sold to private ownership
Further information: 2004/5 Federal CHHP funding of $20,000 to help roof and protect the unique D-shaped retorts in the
Southern Highlands settlement of Joadja .
Current use: Private land. Organised conducted tours.
Former use: Oil shale mining

History

Historical notes: Stockmen were the first white people to enter the Joadja area. The Carter family used Joadja regularly and in the early 1850s Edward Carter noticed the shiny black mineral on seams out-cropping high up on the cliffs. In the late 1870s, after American Creek and Hartley Vale became well-known, Carter set about acquiring critically important shale bearing parts of the valley. His five portions totalled an area of 305 acres (125 hectares). Carter controlled both major fords and most of the dray-road north through Carter's Flat up to Siphon Gully.

In 1873 both Carter and an entrepreneur called Cosgrove applied for conditional purchase of portion 65, which included some of the richest shale outcrops. Carter succeeded in establishing title in 1874 and immediately engaged Robert Longmore, who had built the plant at American Creek in 1865, to mine the shale. That same year George Larkin obtained mineral rights in portion 76 immediately to the south of 65 and including a valuable stretch of shale. The principal shale-mining potential lay up Russell's Gully north of Carter's portion 65 and these portions (67,75,79,96 and 97) were acquired by John de Villiers Lamb. In conjunction with William Brown, Lamb also began mining in 1874. All three parties to the early shale mining, Carter, Larkin and Lamb with Brown, were dependent on each other's goodwill for transporting the ore out of the valley.

Initially in 1874-1875, teams of fourteen bullocks hauled the ore-drays across the valley floor, over the steep-banked ford and up the zig-zag to the plateau which extended to Mittagong. To bypass the zig-zag Carter built an incline at his mine to the north side of the valley, using a double cable: as full skips rose, empty skips descended. The full skips discharged into a 50-tonne bin, from which the bullock drays were loaded.

On the southern side, on the still unclaimed portion 84, a horse-powered incline was installed, almost certainly by Carter. Two horses turned a whim on a circular platform 11 metres in diameter. Traffic on the incline was not heavy; the total quantity of shale mined in 1876 was 400 tonnes, in 1876, 650 tonnes.

John de Villiers Lamb was joined by Parbury to form a company called Parbury, Lamb & Co in 1877-1878. Immediately the company took a decisive step, building a major incline out of the north side of the valley, on Lamb's portion 103. It was powered by a 40 horsepower steam engine located on the plateau. The incline was single track with the haulage cable running in the middle of the tramway. At the bottom it separated into two lines, running north to the creek on well defined embankments. The railway crossed the creek on a bridge supported by five piers constructed of stone rubble with concrete render, scored to resemble masonry blocks. Once across Joadja Creek, the railway went north-west across the flat where the refinery was built in 1878-1879 and up Russell's Gully to the major concentration of mines.

In 1876 the advice of a leading Scottish oil-shale engineer, James Walter Fell, was sought. At that time Fell was the manager of Hartley Vale's Waterloo oil-refinery. However in March 1877 he transferred to Lamb's employment at Joadja. In the same year, James' uncle, Alexander Morrison Fell, came to Joadja after managing a Scottish oilworks in the Lothians.

The formation of a company with ample capital was all that remained. The crucial decision to build retorts and a refinery at Joadja and not to depend on railing all ore to Sydney for treatment was taken in 1877 by Lamb, his associate Parbury and his new partner Robert Saddington, in conjunction with Fells.

In 1878 the consortium was transformed into the Australian Kerosene Oil and Mineral Co. The new company systematically bought up all the mining conditional purchases held by Larkin and McCourt and by Carter as well as the leases already held by John de Villers Lamb and Saddington. The Australian Kerosene Oil and Mineral Co. effectively controlled Joadja until the company went into liquidation in 1911, and the name remained a brand name for the orchard produce from the valley up to 1928.

The retort design was a horizontal D-shape with the straight side as the base. They were probably imported from Glasgow, where James Fell's cousin, John Fraser, had previously been approached in 1876 to supply retorts. At some time before the plant closed an experimental retort with a condensing tower was built just to the south of the main retort banks. James Fell planned and built the refinery simultaneously with the retorts. The plant's stills, and acid and alkali treatment tanks were producing oils, including kerosene, by 1879 (Jack, 1995).

A major shale oil mining and manufacturing plant operated from the 1870s in this (hitherto) quiet and peaceful valley west of Mittagong... The whole area was once filled with the reverberating noise of a large industrial complex and the activity generated by a population of more than 1200 people. For 30 years the ... shale oil works produced a range of products that found their way to both the local and export market. Joadja was a remarkably self-contained community, peopled largely by miners and their families brought to Australia from Scotland by the AKO Company to overcome the shortage of skilled local labour. The company provided housing for workers and their families in a section of the valley set apart for residential purposes. Workers paid a nominal rental for a neat cottage, built from bricks made on site. The wide avenue of houses near the creek was known as Carrington Row, named for the NSW Governor, Lord Carrington. The village had a general store, post office, bakery, school and School of Arts. Farms on the ridges above Joadja Creek supplied vegetables, milk, butter and cheese, sent down to the valley on the incline used to haul the shale and coal out. The township that grew around this rather incongruous enterprise in the bush was almost totally self-sufficient (Emery, 2014, 15).

The shale mining resulted in employment directly connected with the mines. The population was at its highest from 1878 until 1885.

A post office was opened in 1878 and remained open until it was burnt down in the bush fire of December 1904.

In 1879 a temporary school of slab and bark was erected for some fifty children. In 1882 a fine stone building was built for the 90 children of Joadja, of which 60 were expected to attend on average.

After a fire in 1882, one of the few accidents at Joadja, a number of safety precautions were taken. Between 1883 and 1886 a good deal of capital investment produced many modifications to existing buildings and plant, a doubling of the capacity of the distillation facilities and the addition of new features. In particular the manufacture of its own sulphuric acid for use in the refinery. Other manufacturing included packaging the kerosene in tins and a candle-moulding shop.

In 1886 the School of Arts was constructed and was used for regular church services by ministers from Mittagong.

As a result of competition from cheap American imports the refinery and the retorts closed in 1896. Between 1901-1902 there may have been a brief remission of mining but in 1904, after 28 years, Joadja ceased to exist as a shale producer (Jack, 1995),

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Developing local, regional and national economies-National Theme 3
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Landscapes of industrial production-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Landscapes of mining-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Mining-Activities associated with the identification, extraction, processing and distribution of mineral ores, precious stones and other such inorganic substances. Mining for oil shales-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Leasing land for mining-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages (none)-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages 19th Century Infrastructure-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Working in factories-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Working complex machinery and technologies-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Working in mines and quarries-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Joadja has rare historical significance as a major shale mining venture in New South Wales in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. The remains present a ruined but complete picture of the workings of a shale mining and processing community that was virtually completely self-contained. As a collection of sturctures that represent an isolated mining and processing plant, the remians survive as a rare group of relics that are of national hisotircal significance (Freeman 1992). Joadja demonstrates close links with Scotland through technology, managers, miners and refinery workers. (Jack 1995)
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Joadja is visually compelling and the outline of much of the site is still available from surface evidence. As an intact industrial and domestic landscape with minimal twentieth century intrusion it is extremely rare.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The Joadja area has rare social significance for its assocaition with a single group of Scottish immigrant workers who were brought to Australia with their families specifically to work the Joadja mines. The size of the community and its homogeneity of composition is rare in New South Wales and is comparable to other significant mining communities in other areas of Australia. (Freeman 1992)
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
Enough of Joadja is still standing to allow industrial archaeologists to learn a great deal about early mining towns and about the technology of kerosene shale refining. (Simpson 1978) The area has rare technical significance as an example of shale processing technology of the late nineteenth century. The remaining mines, retorts, processing facilites and transport networks provde a picture of an extractive and processing industry that was completely abandoned as a result of external financial pressures. The complete remains are therefore of national technical significance. (Freeman 1992)

Joadja is a site of outastanding scientific significance as an archaeological site which contains a complex range of remains which could yield information regarding technical industrial processes and domestic and social relationships and lifestyles within the same site. This is extremely rare in Australia.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
It is the only surviving oil-shale site in Australia. It is preserved to an extent unique in the world and provides a legible (scenic) and archaeological testimony of all aspects of a major and assocaited domestic arrangements works using horizontal retorts to distil oil from extremely rich oil-shale deposit.
Integrity/Intactness: the site while in ruins is largely intact with all elements of the village and the industrial workings maintining their original relationships.
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
HERITAGE ACT 1977
Notice of Order Under Section 57 (2) of the Heritage Act 1977

I, the Minister for Planning, pursuant to subsection 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, do by this Order:

1. revoke the Schedule of Exemptions to subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act made under subsection 57(2) and published in the Government Gazette on 22 February 2008; and

2. grant standard exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977, described in the Schedule attached.

FRANK SARTOR
Minister for Planning
Sydney, 11 July 2008

To view the schedule click on the Standard Exemptions for Works Requiring Heritage Council Approval link below.
Sep 5 2008

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0130505 Nov 99 12610510
Regional Environmental Plan  01 Jan 86   
Local Environmental Plan 198912 Jan 90 00700290
National Trust of Australia register   20 Sep 78   
Register of the National Estate  18 Jul 87   

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Tourism  Joadja Town Website View detail
WrittenEmery, Linda2014'Historical Insights into the Impact of European Settlement in the Southern Highlands'
WrittenR Ian Jack1995Joadja, New South Wales; The Paragon of Early Oil-Shale Communities

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5045086
File number: H98/00209/001


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