Kembla Heights Conservation Area | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Kembla Heights Conservation Area

Item details

Name of item: Kembla Heights Conservation Area
Type of item: Conservation Area
Group/Collection: Mining and Mineral Processing
Category: Mining camp/settlement/housing
Primary address: Kembla Heights, Mount Kembla, NSW 2526
Local govt. area: Wollongong City
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Kembla HeightsMount KemblaWollongong City  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

A rare and intact example of an early mining village in the Illawarra region. Buildings are excellent examples of vernacular architecture from the late Victorian/Federation period. Dispersed pattern of dwellings with generous unfenced yards is a significant feature of the relationship to the landscape.
Date significance updated: 01 May 00
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.


Physical description: Mining village comprising dispersed layout of similar weatherboard buildings with corrugated steel roofs. Relationship to landscape is important.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Buildings are largely intact and in fair condition - in need of general maintenance.
Date condition updated:01 May 00
Further information: Conservation area includes visual catchment between State Recreation Area ridge track at the top of the escarpment down to the creekline below Nebo Colliery.
Current use: Residential village
Former use: Mining Village


Historical notes: The Kembla Heights Heritage Conservation Area (HCA) is bounded by Harry Graham Drive and Soldiers Road, Mount Kembla. Kembla Heights Heritage Conservation Area was developed for the purposes of serving the local mining industry. The area was the location of the first kerosene mine in Australia (est.1865). Kembla Heights was also the hometown of Harry Graham, the first mayor of the amalgamated Central Illawarra Council (1945).

Kembla Heights is the most intact mining village in the Wollongong Local Government Area with its simple, consistent late Victorian and early Federation period cottages characterised by simple “home renovations”. The area is located on the Illawarra Escarpment and has views back to Port Kembla and Wollongong which provide important links between the inland and the coast and the old and new industries of the Illawarra – coal and steel.

Windy Gully is also located within Kembla Heights Heritage Conservation Area, southwest of Kembla Heights village. This area was initially used for agricultural and dairy farming purposes by early settlers. With the discovery of oil-bearing shale and coal, Windy Gully became an outpost for miners with the establishment of a number of cottages and the miners’ clubroom in the late 1890s. Remnants of these structures still remain today.

The pattern of development of the town reflects the type and size of the local mining industry, particularly in terms of its rapid expansion during the 1880s and 1890s following the establishment of the first large coal mine (Kembla Colliery, 1883). Mining relics and remnant buildings have the potential to provide archaeological evidence in and around the settlements of Kembla Heights. The provision of housing by the Mount Kembla Mine to encourage workers to the site demonstrates the early recognition by industries in isolated areas of the need to provide accommodation where transport was limited or non-existent.

The subsequent development of recreational and service facilities such as clubs, halls and the post office, and the development of a close knit community demonstrate the way in which isolation bonds inhabitants and encourages them to develop and fight for services in their community. This is further demonstrated by the pain felt by the local community in response to the Mount Kembla mining disaster (1902) in which many local men and boys were killed. The disaster involved the largest loss of life in mainland Australia in a work place disaster and gives the locality importance in the history of mining and catastrophic events in Australia.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
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. (none)-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Accommodation-Activities associated with the provision of accommodation, and particular types of accommodation – does not include architectural styles – use the theme of Creative Endeavour for such activities. (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The item has historical value.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The item has group, landmark, architectural, townscape, natural and aesthetic value.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The item has social value.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The item has archaeological and technological value.
SHR Criteria f)
The item has rarity.
SHR Criteria g)
The item has representative value.
Integrity/Intactness: The item has integrity.
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.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental Plan  07 Jan 00 1/200069

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
City of Wollongong Heritage Study1991C1-MKMcDonald McPhee Rogers Conacher FullartonGraham Neaves No

References, internet links & images


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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Local Government
Database number: 2700606

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