World-class WA rehab transforms old coal mine into aquatic playground

A little more than two hours south-east of Perth, a touch more than 15 minutes' drive from main street of Collie, lies an aquatic attraction that promises to become one of WA's finest.

Lake Kepwari covers the best part of 100 hectares, which for footy fans translates to more than 55 times the playing surface of Optus Stadium. Locals say it contains plenty of fish marron and, in keeping with its name - Kepwari is a Noongar word that translates to 'playing with water' - the lake is also perfect for water skiing, canoeing, kayaking swimming and pretty much any other kind of water sport you can think of. 

Lake Kepwari was also, until a little less than 25 years ago, an operational coal mine. The contradiction between what the site was then and what it is now is visually stunning, not least for the workers who once spent their days extracting coal from the open cut mine known as Western Five. 

“This is absolutely fantastic, it’s been a great transformation,” Rob Sanford says. 

“After seeing the hole in the ground that was here, this is absolutely superb.”  

Production Trainer Sanford is just one of a strong core group of one-time Western Five workers who are still employed by the former mine’s operator Premier Coal. 

It’s easy to understand how they might stand on the shores of Lake Kepwari, look over the water, cast their minds back to the machinery, workshops and hard yakka of days gone by and think “how did we get here?” 

The short answer is that it’s been a long story. 

[more provided online] (2020, December 9). World-class WA rehab transforms old coal mine into aquatic playground. Retrieved from

World-class WA rehab transforms old coal mine into aquatic playground