The rapid development of Bulli continued throughout the 1870s as a result of the Bulli Coal Company's works, the flow-on effects leading to the village being placed on a par with Wollongong in terms of population and commercial enterprise.
The influx of residents had led to a shortage of housing by 1878, the Mercury reporting that anyone arriving with a family found it most difficult "to get under shelter anywhere".
The local landlords were taking advantage of the "rush" by increasing the rent on houses, in some instances by as much as two shillings a week.
The proprietors of two hotels - the Black Diamond Hotel and the Denmark Hotel - were improving their establishments. Mr Wilson, of the former, was expanding his premises to almost twice their size while Mr Orvad was making "great additions to the rear of his premises for the comfort of his patrons".
Meantime, an article published in the Mercury in March 1878 provided a snapshot of Bulli and its surrounds, with many of the place names and landmarks mentioned fading with time.
"For a distance of about two miles the main road on either side is literally studded with cottages occupied by miners and others connected either directly or indirectly with the Bulli Coal Company's works," the Mercury said.
From Wollongong there was the village of Woonona, immediately beyond which was a rapidly raised cluster of cottages on land formerly known as Black's Bush, recently bought by Charles Pope. It had been said Mr Pope intended to name the new village "Vatican".
From "Vatican" northwards for some distance, the road was well lined with buildings, including Mr Ziem's Bulli Royal Hotel, Messrs Collings' butchery establishment, and the Primitive Methodist Church.
The church being passed, Newtown was then reached from whence "every foot of ground is taken up either side of the road by cottages and their appurtenances", the most remarkable establishment being the Co-operative Butchering Society's shop.
"Passing from Newtown, over Mailbag Hollow, the village of Bulli proper is entered, the houses there being almost densely crowded.
"Then again there is a cluster of cottages up near the entrance to the mine . . . this secluded village is known as Pittown."
Continuing northwards, the traveller reaches Robbinsville, a village laid out by Frederick Robbins which had sprung up overnight "as if by magic".
Despite the development, Bulli had still not reached the "zenith of its prosperity", the Mercury assured.
"Bulli's greatness is only in swaddling clothes, being carefully rocked in the cradle of the Bulli Coal Company."
Picture: Thriving Bulli in the 1880s, before the railway took much of its trade away. Credit: Wollongong City Library and the Illawarra Historical Society.
For an insight into how Illawarra miners lived in the 1800s, visit here for a description of the Bulli Miner’s Cottage at 200 Princes Hwy.