This Chapter briefly sets out the various mining enterprises that existed in NSW to mine Oil Shale and extract the products obtained from it.

Post from Stan johnson 20/12/08

44 & 47           Note the disparities in the graphs of Figures 4-5 and 4-7.

Note also the extent of production from 1939 – 1952, solely due to Glen Davis, about, which the authors are rather disparaging on page 48. 

48.                   References to Newnes and Glen Davis – grossly incorrect.

 56 ,57  Discrepancy in measurement of seam thickness, attributed  to Edgeworth  David

Note from PH.  The quotation states, “2 foot 10 inches thick, with 2 inches of coal on top” the diagram shows 1 foot 9 and a half inches.

Errata and Notes fromPhillip Pells:  

p36: ‘Ailson St, Randwick’ should be ‘Alison Road, Randwick’ (AB)

p38, in the Box for T.S. Mort: ‘Bodella’ is nowadays spelt ‘Bodalla’ (AB)

p42: ‘Naptha is nowadays spelt ‘Naphtha’. (AB)


Stan Johnson noted that there are discrepancies between the total oil shale quantities as given in Figures 4-5 and 4-7. This is true.  We created Figure 4-5 by abstracting all the data from the Mines Department Annual Reports between 1865 and 1902.  Figure 4-7 is taken from Ref 34 of Chapter 4, and we can only presume that it is less accurate – as there is no other source of the base data.


Stan Johnson, who worked at Glen Davis , considers that the portion of Chapter 4 that covers Glen Davis is misleading. Stan’s particular criticism relates to an inference that may be taken from our writing that retorting at Glen Davis was not a success.  He notes as follows:

The problems were that THEY USED THE NEW AMERICAN TECHNOLOGY which was not suitable for the richer shale at Newnes and  Glen Davis. Despite the best efforts of everyone involved ,several fires, explosions and two fatalities occurred before FINALLY it was decided to adopt the Petrie ( Pumpherston ) modifications and the result was magical. I think about 120 retorts were built. They could have processed 1000 tonnes of
shale a day, but the Miners Federation restricted production to only 250–300 tpd. As a result the retorts were shut down for several months each year.

Stan also notes that what we have written may be read to imply that there was a railway to Glen Davis, via Newnes.  There was not. We were simply shortening the description of the route travelled by the VIPs to the opening, namely by rail to Newnes, and then, apparently, by track across the saddle to Glen Davis.


Since we wrote ‘The Burning Mists of Time’, Leonie Knapman has published her book on Glen Davis, titled “Glen Davis: A Ghost Town and its People”.  It can be purchased through the internet and gives much more information than the few paragraphs in our book.