July 2016, Mackay, Qld
Whilst visiting Mackay, friends who are involved in the underground coal mining industry took us out to see the Hay Point coal loading wharf which is one of the largest coal handling facilities in the world. A mere signpost on the highway yet loading 120 million tonnes of coal onto 900 ships annually. Coal is brought into the wharf by rail network from the multitude of mines in the coal rich Bowen Basin area of Central Queensland. The wharves stretch almost four kilometres out to sea and the ships awaiting loading were barely visible in the mist. Handling this volume of shipping is a delicate business as Hay Point is located within the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef.
After having driven through Central Queensland several times we now have a greater understanding of where all of those trains and hoppers of coal were headed.