Underground tours return for State Coal Mine

Friday 28 June, 2024

Underground tours at the historic State Coal Mine in Wonthaggi have returned, offering new generations a glimpse of Victoria’s industrial past. 

Just in time for the school holidays, walk-in-walk-out tours will resume on Saturday 29 June, thanks to support from the Victorian Government. 

Since first opening to the public in 1983, a visit to the mine on a school trip or holiday has been a childhood highlight for many Victorians. 

Visitors will be taken back into the blackness of the mine and get a taste of the lives of the people who worked there for more than half a century. 

The State Coal Mine Café is also up and running, providing delicious coffee and meals to fuel a full day of exploration. 

The mine precinct is a heritage site that offers tours for the public, a Visitor Centre and museum. 

The resumption of tours is the first phase of a $1.5 million commitment from the Victorian Government to restore the historic site. 

A group of children on a tour in the State Coal Mine.

Underground tours at the State Coal Mine are a cherished childhood memory for many Victorians and visitors. Credit: Parks Victoria

Underground tours on board a clanking, specially adapted mine cart were enjoyed by more than 10,000 visitors a year, but were halted in 2020 due to pandemic restrictions. 

Around the same time, engineering inspections revealed the rail “drift car” used to carry people into the mine, and the track it runs on, no longer met modern safety standards. 

Work to repair the car is funded, and while awaiting the car’s return, Parks Victoria and the Friends of the State Coal Mine developed the walk-in-walk-out tours that start this weekend 

The coal seam at Wonthaggi is more than 130 million years old. The State Coal Mine operated from 1909-1968 and produced almost 17 million tonnes of coal for Victoria's industries and railways. 

The town of Wonthaggi grew up around the mine, which remains a very significant part of the community. 

More than 50 local volunteers regularly maintain the grounds and buildings, run guided tours, and serve customers in the shop. Former miners, many in their late eighties and nineties, maintain a keen interest in the mine. 

Tours are bookable on the Parks Victoria website. 


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