South Bulli No.2

Bulli Black Diamond Museum & Heritage Centre


South Bulli No.2 and its short train displayed at Bulli station on 19 March 2006.

The rolling stock is an AIS brake van and a Corrimal Balgownie / Corrimal Coal & Coke timber coal wagon.

The timbers of the old 4-wheel coal hopper wagon were showing the effect of age and rot.

More recent photos show a security fence has been erected around these exhibits, but they remain open to the weather.

It seems the track is sinking underneath the loco, particularly at the front, and it now leans noticeably forward.


Hudswell Clarke & Co, Leeds

Builder’s Number & Year

297 of 1888

Wheel Arrangement



‘South Bulli No.2’ is a handsome and well-proportioned tank locomotive built by Hudswell Clarke & Co. of Leeds in 1888. By 1891 it was in service at South Bulli Colliery hauling coal to the company jetty at Bellambi, including a flat crossing over the NSWGR Illawarra main line. Following closure of the jetty its route was truncated to exchange sidings with the NSWGR near Bellambi station. The loco was retired in April 1962 after a working life exceeding 70 years.

A treasured and dog-eared old booklet among the webmaster’s library is the 1973 edition of the New South Wales Rail Transport Museum (NSWRTM) ‘Guide to Exhibits’ written by Gifford Eardley, souvenir of a childhood visit to the formative NSWRTM at Enfield Roundhouse. Gifford Eardley also wrote the earlier work ‘Transporting the Black Diamond’, Book 1 of which covers the colliery railways of the Illawarra district. Both books state this locomotive initially worked at the Ringwood Colliery, near Bundanoon NSW, based on Giff Eardley’s research which led him to conclude that ‘South Bulli No.2’ was one of two imported by Thomas Saywell for Ringwood Colliery. Ken McCarthy references Giff Eardley’s ‘Transporting the Black Diamond’ in his 'Gazetteer of Industrial Steam Locomotives - Illawarra District' of 1983, repeating that it was first supplied to Thomas Saywell for Ringwood Colliery. Ken McCarthy also repeats the Ringwood Colliery history in his exhibit guide for the Illawarra Light Railway & Museum collection.

Subsequent research has revealed the Ringwood Colliery provenance for this locomotive cannot be correct. A Sydney Gazette article of 28 November 1885 describes the sale of all Ringwood Colliery plant and ‘a very superior locomotive’ to the proprietors of Russell Vale colliery (later known as South Bulli Colliery):

It is the intention of the company to turn out of this colliery (Russell Vale) 1000 tons of coal per day, and with that purpose in view they have brought here the whole of the plant, about three hundred tons, belonging to the Ringwood colliery, which comprises a very superior locomotive, a large hauling engine of between fifty and sixty horse power; skips, rails for the inside and outside of the mine, and a lot of other appliances, which are necessary for the carrying on of a coal mine . . . . .

Given that the closure and sale of Ringwood Colliery assets was three years before the 1888 build date of Hudswell Clarke b/n 297 ‘South Bulli No.2’, it cannot be the Ringwood Colliery locomotive. (Its identity is an interesting topic for further research.)

The Illawarra’s various industrial concerns hosted an amazing variety of privately owned steam locomotives of varying gauges from international builders, together with antique second-hand machines from NSW Government Railways and tramways. (Ken McCarthy’s book ‘Gazetteer of Industrial Steam Locomotives, Illawarra District NSW’ details the many interesting steam locomotives which once worked in the Illawarra.) While most of these interesting machines met their fate during the 1960’s, fortunately ‘South Bulli No.2’ was spared when donated by South Bulli Colliery to the Australian Railway Historical Society (ARHS), NSW Division. South Bulli No.2 was loaded onto a well wagon and met at Bellambi by an ARHS tour train on 12 March 1966. A small handover ceremony followed before ‘South Bulli No.2’ was hauled to Sydney Central Station by Standard Goods loco 5593 as part of the tour train. The loco was cosmetically restored at Eveleigh Workshops before a period of storage at Petersham sidings. In 1972 it joined the growing New South Wales Rail Transport Museum (NSWRTM) collection in the Enfield Roundhouse.

When the NSWRTM was evicted from Enfield, South Bulli No.2 was not transferred to their new Thirlmere site. Instead, the Australian Railway Historical Society (NSW Division) arranged for the loco to be returned to the Illawarra region for display by the Illawarra Light Railway & Museum Society at Albion Park. South Bulli No.2 arrived at Albion Park on 15 October 1974. Here it was well cared for, being sand-blasted and repainted a number of times.

In 1995 ‘South Bulli No.2’ moved to the Bulli Black Diamond Museum & Heritage Centre, which is based in the historic Bulli Station building. Here it is displayed together with a Corrimal-Balgownie Coal Co. open hopper & Australian Iron & Steel 4-wheel brake van, both of which had also previously been at Albion Park. The Bulli Black Diamond Museum & Heritage Centre has an excellent website with further information about ‘South Bulli No.2’ and local history.

Alas Bulli Station is not far from the coast and ‘South Bulli No.2’ and its short train require ongoing maintenance against the effects of the salt & moisture-laden air. Hopefully at some stage funding will become available for a secure covered shelter so that these old-timers can be properly protected and displayed for future generations to contemplate.

A scanned photo view of South Bulli No.2 and her short train at Bulli Station, circa 1999.

The nameplate, builder’s plate, brass dome and other refinements are removed, presumably for safekeeping - a necessary adjunct to open display.

A second view of South Bulli No.2 circa 1999.

It can be seen that the antique buffer beam comprises wooden beams behind a heavy steel plate.

The front of the loco has sunk considerably since that photo was taken.

My thanks to Graeme Nitz for contributing this view of South Bulli No.2 at the ILRMS, Albion Park on 04 November 1989.

At this stage, the brass builder’s plate – but not nameplate - was affixed to the cab; both are now removed, presumably for safe keeping.

The loco also sports a brass steam dome cover, also now absent as displayed at South Bulli.

(Amongst the surrounding bric-a-brac are the bunker and driving wheels of one of the A & D Munro Shay locomotives.)



McCarthy, K. ‘Guide to the Main Exhibits - Illawarra Light Railway Museum Society’,

published 1992.


Bulli Black Diamond Museum & Heritage Centre website,

retrieved 10 June 2015.


McCarthy, K. 'Gazetteer of Industrial Steam Locomotives, Illawarra District NSW',

prepared by Ken McCarthy for the Illawarra Environmental Heritage Committee.

Published by the Australian Railway Historical Society (NSW Division),

December 1983.


Eardley, G. H. 'Locomotives: A Guide - Enfield Railway Museum',

published by the NSWRTM, 1973.


Sydney Gazette of Saturday 28 November 1885,

National Library of Australia (via Trove):


Information provided by J. Browning via email, 14 March 2021


Page updated: 20 March 2021

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