Newspaper article Fraser Coast Chronicle (Hervey Bay, Australia)

Coal Mining Was Way of Life; CoalFest Link to the Past

Newspaper article Fraser Coast Chronicle (Hervey Bay, Australia)

Coal Mining Was Way of Life; CoalFest Link to the Past

Article excerpt

LOOKING BACK

GEORGE SEYMOUR

THE Burrum Coal Discovery Festival at Howard over the weekend was a very well attended event highlighting the significance of coal mining to our region. Coal mining was a way of life for the Burrum district for many years; building it up economically, socially and culturally.

On Saturday, at the Burrum and District Mining Museum, hundreds of people of all ages took rides on a small yellow locomotive named Rusty.

This small locomotive, which has been lovingly restored and cared for by the museum provides a link to the later years of coal mining in the Burrum. It now runs along its own custom made track beneath radiant sunshine and around well preserved historic buildings; however it once was central to the operations of mining here; underground among the men, the sweat, the dust and the coal.

Rusty was used to haul coal until the Burgowan Number 13 Mine closed in 1976. Along with four other locos it was purchased from Rosewood Mine in Ipswich in about 1966-67, replacing pit ponies. When pit ponies were introduced in the Burrum mines in the 1890s they were the first to be used in Australia.

Of the five such trains operating at the mine, Rusty was the temperamental one, often blowing a head gasket. Because of this it was not used as much and was left out in the weather, going rusty; and thereby gaining its namesake. It has recently been expertly restored by volunteers through the museum. With the installation of a thicker head gasket it now runs very well - much to the delight of locals and visitors who ride along in its carriages.

At one stage about 25% of Queensland coal was coming from the Burrum, however when Burgowan Number 12 Mine closed just over two decades ago, in 1997, it was the end of the coal mining era in the Burrum. The legacy of this part of our history lives on in the historic towns of Howard and Torbanlea, associated infrastructure such as the Urangan Pier and in machinery like Rusty.

Remnants and reminders of this industry can also be found in the surrounding country. …

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