Sunday History Photo, SA

Submitted: Sunday, May 17, 2009 at 07:34
ThreadID: 68910 Views:4504 Replies:7 FollowUps:5
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Mr. Arthur J Smith first pegged a claim in March 1906 and it was known as Smith’s Carnotite Mine, later to become Radium Hill. 460 Klms. North-East of Adelaide
The claim lapsed in 1908 but was then taken up by the Radium Hill Company when more shafts were sunk and a total of 350 milligrams of radium were prepared, together with 150 kg. of uranium.
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Radium Keith Lively was born at the Mine in 1913. The miners and their families lived in tents and humpies on the banks of Olary Creek. Mining ceased in 1914 at the outbreak of World War I.
In 1923 the Radium and Rare Earth Treatment Company N.L. restarted mining operations, which ceased in 1931. Radium Lively’s elder brother Harry was a miner who suffered the only serious accident during this time when while “bogging out”, his shovel struck a detonator which exploded and caused the shovel to take off his left heel.
The next phase of activity commenced in 1944 when Reg Sprigg, a government geologist, accompanied by Harry Lively and Tommy Carpenter made a detailed geological survey.
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In 1946 the Department of Mines commenced preliminary exploration work followed by diamond drilling in 1947. By 1950 a camp of 40 men had been established.
A spur line was constructed from the main Broken Hill line, a distance of 18 Klm.
The first train into Radium Hill arrived on the 2nd Oct 1953, and was called the "Atomic Comet".
An aerodrome was constructed and regular flights by Guinea Airways enabled Broken Hill to be reached in 18 minutes and Adelaide in 2 hours. The Royal Flying Doctor Service made use of the field for emergency and regular visits by the Flying Doctor.
The road from Olary but later from Cutana following the railway spur line. In the late 1950’s approximately 1000 people were living there in 165 houses and over 220 two-man cubicles. Over 35 different nationalities were represented with the majority being British followed by Australians.
Services provided included an A.I.M. Hospital, Public School and Kindergarden, Post Office, Police Station, Government Retail Store, weather station, State Bank branch, and a Civic Hall.
A Wet Canteen, Milk Bar, Library, Swimming Pool, Recreation room and Drive-In Cinema were also provided.
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Official closure of the mine occurred on December 21, 1961, at which time more than 3000 people had worked at Radium Hill for varying periods during the mines life.
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Reply By: Willem - Sunday, May 17, 2009 at 08:35

Sunday, May 17, 2009 at 08:35
Good one Doug

There are murmurs and rumours about the mine re-opening again. I still have to take a drive out there but never seem to make thge time to do it.

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Follow Up By: Member No 1- Monday, May 18, 2009 at 07:45

Monday, May 18, 2009 at 07:45
its not that you dont have the time....your never home you meant to say...
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Reply By: Member - Doug T (NT) - Sunday, May 17, 2009 at 08:45

Sunday, May 17, 2009 at 08:45
Here's a couple more.

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Reply By: Member - Richard H (NSW) - Sunday, May 17, 2009 at 08:46

Sunday, May 17, 2009 at 08:46
I've been there several times over the past few years. It is now located on private pastoral land and you need permission to enter from the cocky.

Not a great deal remains, bitumen roads, foundation and access steps for the hoses, and the swimming pool, albeit drained and suffering from subsiding walls.

Not many photos exist of this place as cameras were frowned upon, bearing in mind that this place was in operation during the 'Reds Under the Beds' period of Australia's history, and a very conservative govt. was in S.A. & the C of A. A shame really.

When we were there last, there was a reunion of former residents, and they camped on the house blocks where they had previously lived.

Of the houses, they were carted away, to surrounding towns as public service accommodation, and some still exist in Broken Hill.

An interesting place, however, where the mine was, and the processing mill, there are 'Danger Radiation' signs.

The ore that was mined was called 'Davidite', a low yielding ore. There are other minerals in the area, eg. gold, copper, and some exploratory work is currently being carried out.
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Follow Up By: Member - Steve M (SA) - Monday, May 18, 2009 at 09:28

Monday, May 18, 2009 at 09:28
Looks like they are restoring the area

Some friends of my father are involved.

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Reply By: Member - Fred G NSW - Sunday, May 17, 2009 at 09:08

Sunday, May 17, 2009 at 09:08
Good one there Doug, and a good post script by Richard.
One of the lesser known eras from our past history.

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Reply By: Bushwhacker - Sunday, May 17, 2009 at 09:12

Sunday, May 17, 2009 at 09:12
Good one as always, Doug. Was this the beginning of the neuclear age in Australia? Radium and uranium.... sounds like bad stuff these days, would probably attract protests by huge numbers of people, and The Greens wouldn't have passed approval for the developement. I guess we are a bit more aware of the dangers to society in general, and the environment in particular. Both commodities are necessary, but I reckon very strict guidlines and safety measures would be required to begin such a venture today. Thanks again for the informative Sunday history lesson. 'Whacker
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Reply By: glids - Sunday, May 17, 2009 at 10:17

Sunday, May 17, 2009 at 10:17
Thanks Doug, for another interesting look into the past.

The name Reg Sprigg may ring a bell with readers of the forum too, check out his link:
Search for "Reg Sprigg"

Another interesting guy.

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Follow Up By: Member - David T (SA) - Sunday, May 17, 2009 at 13:14

Sunday, May 17, 2009 at 13:14
Hi Glids
Just read a biography of Reg Sprigg called "Rock Star" written by his daughter-in-law. Wonderful read.

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Follow Up By: Member - Jack - Sunday, May 17, 2009 at 13:46

Sunday, May 17, 2009 at 13:46
I will second that, David. "Rock Star" is a fascinating read.

The hurrieder I go, the behinder I get. (Lewis Carroll-Alice In Wonderland)

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Follow Up By: curious - Sunday, May 17, 2009 at 18:42

Sunday, May 17, 2009 at 18:42
Griselda Sprigg, Reg's wife, wrote a book called : Dune is a four letter word. Chapter 3 of the book is about Radium Hill as Reg was one of the first geologists there. When she moved there, it was a tent city and gradually grew into a proper township. The book is worth a read, both Reg and Griselda were an amazing couple.

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Reply By: Garbutt - Sunday, May 17, 2009 at 10:34

Sunday, May 17, 2009 at 10:34
Well done again Dopug. I hadn't realised it had been so big. Many of the 2 man huts were taken from Radium Hill to Fort Largs Police Academy and used to house Police cadets for years before the current two storey accom blocks were built. Just as an aside that part of the Academy is soon to be sold of for housing.
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