Remembering 31 July 1902 — Mount Kembla

On Facebook I posted in relation to this, the worst industrial disaster in Australian history, and was surprised that one of my Aussie friends had never heard of it before — and he is a real history buff too!

I had posted about it back in 2010 when my friend Sirdan (now in NZ) and I visited the Mount Kembla pub — in the building/repair of which my grandfather Thomas Daniel Sweeney Whitfield had a hand in the late 19th century.

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Sirdan looking at the Kembla Mine memorial

An explosion at 2pm on July 31, 1902, at Mt. Kembla colliery killed 96 men and boys. The sound of the explosion could be heard in Wollongong, some 7 miles away. At the end of the day 33 women were widows and 120 children were fatherless.

The hundreds of rescuers were headed by former Keira Mine manager and ex-mayor of Wollongong, Major Henry MacCabe who had played a vital part in rescue efforts at the Bulli Mine disaster in 1887 which killed 81 miners.

MacCabe and Nightshift Deputy, William McMurray were to lose their own lives during the rescue effort to the effect of “overpowering fumes”, adding 2 more deaths to the 94 miners…

Mount Kembla Coal Mine disaster 1902
Moving tribute through music video/song about the loss of 96 lives at the Mt Kembla Mine disaster in Illawarra Australia. the song reflects the events and photos and video portray the story of that fateful day in 1902 — Jessica Grainger
THEY LEFT IN THE MORNING…Ballad of Mt Kembla Words & Music South Coast Labour Council Secretary Arthur Rorris – Vocals Stuart Alexander
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The Gong has a long history in coal-mining. Outside the Council Offices/Library is this memorial:

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Various lockdown hacks and escapes — 16 — good Facebook day

I refer there to yesterday, which was quite productive in my Facebook world of real-life friends, relations and ex-students, as well as what in pre-internet days we might have called pen-pals. The next entry of two will catch up on more of that.

But first the good news: my toothache seems to have gone.

And then the bad news: NSW (Greater Sydney in particular) is far from out of the woods when it comes to the Delta strain.

And in The Gong:

Finally, a photo of Sydney in 1901 from the National Library Archives was posted in the Old Sydney Album on Facebook. “George Street, near the corner of Market Street, Sydney 1901. Federation Celebrations.” I gave it a modest colouring:

My note on that:

I remember around 1953-1955 my grandfather Roy Christison telling me about being in the city during these 1901 celebrations, when the country Australia formally came into being. Indeed I think he was in Centennial Park for the great proclamation.

To me then that seemed SO long ago — but now I reflect that 1970 is back in time from now a similar distance — or the election of Gough Whitlam, for example! Yes, I am my own grandpa!

Indeed indeed!

And this was back in 1971 — not that I was in this place, but the vibe I recall from FIFTY years ago. Went to a folk concert at the Jamberoo pub sometime around then though.