This paper presents a systematic study of flow and heat transfer mechanisms in a compressor disc cavity with an axial throughflow under centrifugal buoyancy-driven convection, comparing with previously published experimental data. Wall-modelled large-eddy simulations are conducted for six operating conditions, covering a range of rotational Reynolds number (3.2 × 105 – 2.2 × 106), buoyancy parameter (0.11 – 0.26) and Rossby number (0.4 – 0.8). Numerical accuracy and computational efficiency of the simulations are considered. Wall heat transfer predictions are compared with measured data with a good level of agreement. A constant rothalpy core occurs at high Eckert number, appearing to reduce the driving buoyancy force. The flow in the cavity is turbulent with unsteady laminar Ekman layers observed on both discs except in the bore flow affected region on the downstream disc cob. The shroud heat transfer Nusselt number-Rayleigh number scaling agrees with that of natural convection under gravity for high Rayleigh numbers. Disc heat transfer is dominated by conduction across unsteady Ekman layers, except on the downstream disc cob. The disc bore heat transfer is close to a pipe flow forced convection correlation. The unsteady flow structure is investigated showing strong unsteadiness in the cavity that extends into the axial throughflow.