Our route wound through verdant South Gippsland farming country on reasonable sealed roads via Main South Rd and Timms Rd to Poowong. The drive continued, at a pace that allowed the drivers to enjoy the scenery too, until we reached Loch. The route on the Loch-Wonthaggi Rd continued up and down and around like the previous great driving roads.
We arrived at John’s place for refreshments then an inspection of his five original classic Jaguars -three XJ6 sedans, including a Daimler Sovereign version, a later XJ sedan and an XJ-S Targa convertible.
After choosing from the extensive lunch menu at the Wonthaggi Workmen’s Club, most of us drove the few minutes to the State Coal Mine Historic site. Some either stayed in the café or toured the surface buildings while about a dozen of us paid for a 90-minute escorted underground inspection of a small part of the underground workings.
We were lucky to have as our guide a Wonthaggi miner who started in 1949 as a 19 year old Italian migrant and worked there until the mine closed in the 1970’s. He explained that although we were only going to walk about 1km into the mine, there were nearly 5000km of tunnels in the whole mine complex ! Most of the workings are flooded now but 100,000 litre/day of brackish water is pumped out of the public area to allow tours. At the end of our tour we were about 60 meters below ground level so the train ride out was welcome.
A great day thanks to John’s organising and hospitality.
Words by Alan Humphreys, photos by John Cobbledick