Sunday lunch at Five Islands Brewing–and other things brewing in The Gong

Sirdan came down from Sydney via Bundanoon yesterday. The plan was Sunday lunch at The Steelers, but it was a touch crowded there! It happened to be the first game for quite a while at the still-under-construction WIN Stadium.  The jubilation after the game would not have matched last year’s Grand Final.

The home team lost.

So Sirdan and I moved on to the Five Islands Brewing Company.


Tried two beers:


I think I preferred Rust. Accompanied the beers with an excellent grilled steak.

Moved on after that to Diggers for a wicked dessert.


Of course here in The Gong there is much angst of late.

BlueScope Steel has delayed major capital works and drastically cut back the work for external contractors in the strongest indication yet of how badly the Port Kembla steelmaker is struggling.

Some contracting firms have been forced to look to other regions as they try and maintain their workload, while others are considering cutting staff.

Workers at the steelworks were asked to take a week’s leave in June to help limit its spending.

On Friday the steelworks officially came under the new entity BlueScope Australia and New Zealand, headed by Mark Vassella, who flew in to Australia from the United States on the weekend.

Within the steelworks, major projects have been put on hold, with the new $40 million steel injection station delayed indefinitely and the $66 million steam asset upgrade now not due to be commissioned until late this year.

BlueScope posted a $55 million loss for the first half of the financial year and has warned of a similar result for the second half.

Contractors told the Mercury work had been cut drastically, which would hurt businesses reliant on work from the steelworks…

That’s a story that goes back way before talk of a carbon tax. The high Aussie dollar has certainly not helped this industry, and surely there has long  been enormous pressure as we have gone further down the free trade route.

Port Kembla has been casting about for other things than steel. Coal export remains a big item, and isn’t likely to stop carbon tax or no carbon tax.

It’s full steam ahead in the expansion planning department at the Port Kembla Coal Terminal – thanks to the coal boom.

Expansion at the terminal could include taking over its bulk products berth, dredging part of Port Kembla harbour and developing a new berth and ship loader.

The increased capacity could allow it to handle more than $1 billion worth of extra coal a year, as demand and prices for hard coking coal continue to soar.

Port Kembla Coal Terminal (PKCT) general manager Peter Green said existing machinery would be refurbished to optimise capacity. But further "upgrades" may be necessary, including at the new berth.

"The expected increase in demand on our infrastructure is inevitable based on the forecast coal production from the southern and western coalfields," he said.

"In anticipation of this outcome, PKCT, together with the support of its employees, has commenced studies and modelling of the existing infrastructure and what might be needed to ensure a safe plant, reliability and to increase capacity."…

And wheat. And cars.

Hual Car Ship entering port

Car ship entering Port Kembla

I was telling Sirdan yesterday about how really dumb the state and federal governments have been when it comes to infrastructure down here. We have ONE rail line to Sydney and that comes down to ONE TRACK at the Clifton tunnel. But further down south and west you can find this:


Abandoned rail works


Click to enlarge

See La Perouse:

The proposed Maldon-Dombarton rail link is a 35 kilometre standard gauge rail line connecting the Illawarra Line from Wollongong to the Main Southern Line running from Sydney via Campbelltown. The line was originally proposed and partially constructed by the NSW Government, commencing in 1983. Construction ceased in 1988 following a reassessment of the demand case by the NSW Government. The rail corridor is not believed to have been compromised. Approximately two-thirds of earthworks along the rail corridor have been completed, as well as the entry cuts to the tunnel portals and construction access roads to the tunnel and catchment area. However some significant infrastructure has not been constructed, including a number of bridges…

The Maldon-Dombarton line would improve the connectivity of Port Kembla to the South Sydney Freight Line and these intermodal terminals. The port would have the capacity to handle container trade as part of its planned Outer Harbour development.

Now which party was in charge of NSW in 1988, eh Barry?

See also The Illawarra Mercury on this dumbass decision and what it has led to:

Not a single tonne of rail freight has left the Port Kembla cargo handling facility since it opened in 2007, prompting questions over how the region’s congested roads will absorb future port expansion.

The revelation has triggered a demand from the Greens that the port should be prevented from expanding until it can guarantee more goods will be moved by rail.

A report obtained by the Mercury shows Port Kembla Port Corporation failed to meet a State Government target that, by the end of 2010, at least 20 per cent of freight would move to and from the site by rail…

The report showed 187 trucks per day moved almost 850,000 tonnes of cargo in 2009-10, almost 90 per cent of which were imports.

The port corporation noted it had carried out rail upgrade works and lobbied for extra rail infrastructure, and rail remained a key mode of transport for coal, grain and mineral concentrate at Port Kembla.

But the news will add to growing disquiet over the ability of the region’s road links to cope with the weight of freight traffic generated by the outer harbour expansion.

Preliminary work on the $600million project began this year. It will almost double the port’s cargo handling capacity.

As the Mercury reported last October, an RTA submission on the expansion raised concern that predicted rail freight volumes could not be achieved, which would likely lead to “unacceptable impacts to road safety and traffic efficiency, as well as environmental issues such as amenity, noise and air quality”…

A Planning Department spokesman said future applications to expand the port must demonstrate that adequate rail infrastructure is in place, or will be provided in a timely manner. The port corporation must also prepare a rail master plan before embarking on future stages of the work, he said.

The corporation did not directly manage the movement of cargo, and constraints on rail transport had largely been beyond its control, he said.

Australian Amalgamated Terminals and Patrick Autocare are the cargo facility’s main tenants.

Seems only The Greens have been really serious on this one.