Sunday History Photo / Qld

Submitted: Sunday, Oct 26, 2014 at 08:28
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A coal mine, reputed to be one of the safest mines of it’s time, Mount Mulligan was the site of Australia’s second worst mining disaster, with seventy-six men losing their lives in the underground explosion on that fateful day.
The explosion occurred on 19 September 1921 in Mount Mulligan, Far North Queensland, Australia. A series of explosions in the local coal mine, audible as much as 30 km away, rocked the close-knit township.





Seventy-five workers were killed by the disaster which is the third worst coal mining accident in Australia in terms of human lives lost. Four of the dead had been at the mouth of the pit at the time of the explosion. Only eleven of the bodies were found. The disaster affected people in cities and towns all over the country. The mine, which was new at the time of the accident, was widely considered safe and had no previous indications of gas leaks. The miners hence worked using open flame lights instead of safety lamps.



A Royal Commission into the accident confirmed that the disaster was caused by the detonation of a fire damp. The investigation found that explosives were used, stored, distributed and carried underground in a careless manner. It was also determined that the lack of appropriate means to render the coal dust safe in the mine was a violation of law.
The mine was reopened a year after the disaster. In 1923 the Queensland government bought it from the operators. It was in operation until 1957, although it was heavily subsidised after the war. The mine's final demise occurred with the completion of the Tully Falls hydro electricity scheme. Soon after, the town was sold and most of the buildings were removed.




Listen to an Audio recording about the disaster from the ABC HERE


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Reply By: Member - Alan H (QLD) - Sunday, Oct 26, 2014 at 09:09

Sunday, Oct 26, 2014 at 09:09
Thanks Doug

Alan
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Reply By: Slow one - Sunday, Oct 26, 2014 at 11:05

Sunday, Oct 26, 2014 at 11:05
Doug,
it is one of the strangest geo areas around. They mined gold copper right beside where they mined coal and the undergrounds go in under a high rock ridge.

Friends father worked there in the late 50's just before it closed. He later lost a leg, arm, eye and half his stomach when a ventilation fan disintegrated.

Great spot with some quality Brumbies running around. A bit of gold can still be detected around there as well. The property homestead/ hospital was still in good nick the last time I was there.

Thanks for the post.
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Reply By: Joe Fury - Sunday, Oct 26, 2014 at 11:17

Sunday, Oct 26, 2014 at 11:17
G'day Doug T

Your post has been a very interesting read and a bit of a trip back into a slightly misty part of my working life in far north Queensland.

Way back then I had the pleasure of working along side a young bloke who was born and raised in Mount Molloy ~ a true north Queenslander who had a passion for his region and he had a certain gift when it came to telling a story or spinning a yarn as he would call it, the Mount Mulligan mine disaster and stories of Palmer River, Black Rock Mountain and Mitchell River were just a few young Graham would relive at the time.

There were still people in Mount Molloy back in 1983 that were directly related to some of the miners that were killed in the disaster, my connection to the region back then was also through mining at the Mount Carbine tungsten mine.

Thanks again Doug for the trip back through a moment in my life.

Safe travels : Joe Fury
AnswerID: 540875

Reply By: Ron N - Sunday, Oct 26, 2014 at 12:02

Sunday, Oct 26, 2014 at 12:02
Thanks for another interesting historical snippett, Doug.
Using "safe" and "underground coal mine" in the one sentence, appears to me to be the greatest oxymoron around.

My Grand-dad was a coal miner in Scotland, just North of Edinburgh. He lost a leg in a cave-in.
He was trapped by the rock fall, and they amputated his leg on the spot without anaesthetic, to save his life!
He was conscious all through the amputation, but lost consciousness when he was brought to the surface - and he was unconscious for three weeks afterwards!

Talk about tough in those days. No penicillin, nothing to stop the spread of gangrene and simple infections that we shrug off with a few pills today.
In those days, simple infections often meant death.
My Grandmother (this Grand-dads wife) died a few years after Grand-dads accident, of septicaemia - simple blood poisoning that is promptly fixed today with antibiotics.

One of their sons, my uncle, became a coal mine manager and was fatally gassed at the age of 44, leaving a wife and three children.
There's little to be said for the promotion of underground coal mining.
I guess it was necessary in the days of no mechanisation - but the toll from underground coal mining over the centuries, worldwide, has been horrendous.

Amazingly, Grand-dad lived a healthy long life after his trauma, he got to 85.
They made him paymaster at the mine after his accident and he never went underground again, ever.
When he died, he was in a retirement home. He had placed a newspaper over his face to have an afternoon nap, and when the staff went to wake him up, they couldn't wake him, he was gone.
That's got to be a good way to go - far better than being gassed, buried, or blown up in an underground mine.

Cheers, Ron
AnswerID: 540877

Reply By: Member - Grundle (WA) - Tuesday, Oct 28, 2014 at 20:56

Tuesday, Oct 28, 2014 at 20:56
Hi Doug,I lived in Dimbulah for yrs and was a frequent visitor to that area.I worked for a time at Mt Arthur (wolfram mine) for a time.Its the same ore body that runs from Mt Molloy to Chilicoe.There is a small lake on top of the mountain and a water line feeds the old hospitals lawns.They need to leave a sprinkler going all the time,to releave pressure.I hunted pigs in the region.A mate worked as a ringer for the station and used to tell me where a scrubber bull or cow had died and i'd hit that area.Some real tough boars in that place.Have many fond memories of those years and the people.

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