Film of Helensburgh's mines fills in gaps: video

Director Geoffrey Sykes at Wollongong Art Gallery. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER
Director Geoffrey Sykes at Wollongong Art Gallery. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

The history of a town built on coal will be traced this weekend, as a film on Helensburgh's mining heritage screens in Wollongong.

Geoffrey Sykes, director of Black In Time, said up to 30 per cent of Helensburgh residents have seen the film in recent months.

He hopes the wider Illawarra will show similar interest when it is screened at Wollongong Art Gallery on Sunday.

"In one hour we crammed in the history of the mines and the whole history of Helensburgh," Mr Sykes said.

"We hope both of those resonate with the experiences of other coalmining areas around the region."

The film combines archived still and video footage, re-enactments, and interviews with surviving miners, tracing the history of Helensburgh from 1884 until the present day.

Mr Sykes said despite the Illawarra slowly moving away from manufacturing and mining into other industries, the story of coal is still woven deeply into the area's cultural fabric.

"Even though that industry is disappearing from the region, it is good for young people to know about it, to know where everyday power sources came from in the past," he said.

"There aren't many images of coalmining, people don't paint pictures of it, so we thought it was a worthy thing to document a part of Australian history that is rarely documented."

The screening is at 2pm on Sunday.

Entry is free.

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