Interpretive Panels for the Coal Loader Centre for Sustainability, North Sydney.
Dr. Sarah Barns: Research, writing and interpretation
Michael Killalea: Design and production
The Coal Loader, on the western side of Waverton peninsula, is a special site where many paths of history intersect.
The peninsula was first a place of physical and spiritual sustenance for Aboriginal Australians. The Cammeraygal people lived on the peninsula for thousands of years. Evidence of their presence, in the form of a large rock carving, still survives at the site.
The Coal Loader, itself, is a former industrial site that operated from the early 1920s to the early 1990s. It functioned primarily as a transfer depot for coal from bulk carriers to smaller coal-fired vessels. Some coal was also distributed to the local market by road transport.
A major component of the coal-loading operation was the extensive elevated platform structure, which housed a large coal stockpile.
Beneath the platform are a series of tunnels, each with a number of chutes through which the coal was transferred into coal 'skips'. The skips operated on a cable-hauled railway system that ran as a continuous loop through the two western-most tunnels and then out onto the finger wharf in Balls Head Bay, where they loaded waiting steamers. This loading system was replaced by a high speed conveyor in the mid 1970s which then serviced ships carrying export coal until 1992.
The site operated for over 70 years before being decommissioned.
It was dedicated as public open space in 1997, and formally transferred to North Sydney Council in 2003.
Esem Projects worked with North Sydney Council to deliver major interpretive art panels as part of the development of the Coal Loader for Sustainability, launched to the public in 2018.