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Community & Business

30 July, 2021

Special service to commemorate Mount Mulligan mine disaster

A NATIONAL disaster that rocked the very foundations of a small tight-knit Far North Queensland village will be commemorated during an upcoming event at Mount Mulligan.

By Michael Warren

A special service will be held in September to commemorate 100 years since the terrible Mt Mulligan mining disaster.

A NATIONAL disaster that rocked the very foundations of a small tight-knit Far North Queensland village will be commemorated during an upcoming event at Mount Mulligan. 

A State miners service will be held on September 19 at Mount Mulligan to mark 100 years since a devastating explosion tragically killed 75 miners in the small township back in 1921. 

An ensuing Royal Commission determined the accidental or untimely fi ring of an explosive charge on the top of a slab of coal caused the disaster. 

“Following the 75th anniversary of the incident back in 1997 we have held numerous reunions of ex residents and have carried out a number of projects in the town and mine environs,” Mt Mulligan Ex Residents Committee secretary Ken Best said. 

“A large number of ex residents and descendants are going to be at the one-hundred year event which is being organised as part of the Miners Memorial Day.” With the special anniversary just a few months away the former resident provided fascinating detail and insight about that fateful day back in 1921. 

“Mt Mulligan was a happy community but on the Monday morning of September 19, 1921 a terrific blast from the mine sent the townspeople running to the mine opening which told them what they all feared,” Mr Best recounted. “The seventy-five men underground had lost their lives. 

“Every home in the town was bereaved, fifty-six children instantly became fatherless. 

“The school children lining up on the parade ground were the first to witness the black cloud and tremble of the explosion at 9.25am. 

“The assistant school teacher also witnessed this from her position on the school verandah. 

“At our 95th disaster commemoration we replayed the exact morse-code with its verbal message that was sent to Cairns at the time to alert emergency services of the disaster. 

“The last body was found fi ve months later on February 9, 1922 after the mine had restarted production.” More than 30 years later it was a sad day when the mine eventually closed down for good. 

“I worked with several men who were school children at the time of the disaster and didn’t hear them speak of (the disaster). 

“Mt Mulligan was a happy town and we were like a big family. We were saddened when the mine closed on October 28, 1957. “I personally helped seal the mine and moved to Collinsville to work.”

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