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.
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
The Gong has a long history in coal-mining. Outside the Council Offices/Library is this memorial: