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In a move that combines the best of the Illawarra’s sporting and historical traditions, the Russell Vale Golf Club has dedicated each of its 18-holes on the course to honouring a local coal mine in its area.
Former Miners Federation General Secretary Barry Swan was invited to assist by way of researching the history of Illawarra coal mines. From this research, 18 of the names of Illawarra’s historic coal mines would be selected to become a feature at each of the course’s individual golf holes. This naming concept was initiated by former Mine Mechanics Association member Barry Johnson and Russell Vale Golf Club captain Alan Sellars, the Sellars family being synonymous with the history of coal mining in the Illawarra.
There was a large turnout for the official naming of the 18-holes at the Russell Vale Golf Club on 24 February with members of the Club joined by many others in the community. Among those who spoke were Federal Labor MP Sharon Bird, State Labor MP Ryan Park and Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery.
Barry Swan told Common Cause that a plaque featuring a picture of each individual mine along with a short history of the operation was mounted on a stand at the tee-off point for each hole.
“It was a wonderful initiative of the Russell Vale Golf Club to celebrate the contribution that local coal mines have made to the development and prosperity of our community and the local region”, said Barry.
“It will serve as a constant reminder of the role our coal industry has played and it is fitting that it be situated on a lovely Golf Course that itself has been constructed on part of the reclaimed site of the former South Bulli Colliery”.
Federal Labor MP Sharon Bird, who comes from a long line of Illawarra coal miners, said it was wonderful to see two of the most celebrated passions in the region, sport and history, combined in this initiative.
“We are all proud of our coal mining history and the Russell Vale Golf Club deserves great credit for helping keep it alive in our community”, she told Common Cause.