Friday, May 22, 2009

Pretty Steel Town by the Beach

Today a group of us from work took a trip to the steel mill in Port Kembla, south of Sydney. It was fun getting out and seeing a plant, rather than just assembling and analysing information on them. The highlight was watching the steelmaking furnace being charged with molten iron and limestone, and then seeing the oxygen blow through it and drive the slag off the top. The rolling mill was also impressive: you could feel the heat radiating off the steel plate at a distance of 10 or 20 metres.

As we were driving back, I was struck by how pleasant Wollongong is, given that it's built around Australia's largest steelworks. The stereotype of an industrial town is grim, dirty and unfashionable, but Wollongong has picturesque mountains and beautiful beaches, with enough of a sea breeze to disperse the smoke from the mills. There's something quite Australian about having a pretty steel town by the beach.