Anniversary closes in on memorial plans

Posted July 7, 2015


Artist Impression of the planned memorial to honour those killed on the Moura-Kianga coalfields.

A Moura community group is engaged in a last-ditch bid to raise enough funds to have a major miners’ memorial ready to mark the 40th anniversary of the Kianga disaster.

The $535,000 project will honour those killed in three mass disasters on the Moura-Kianga coalfields as well as individual miners killed in accidents since 1961.

Moura Community Progress group president John Walker said fundraising efforts had reaped about half that amount by June and that they needed to be able to put up the $450,000 required for construction before tenders could be called.

This meant the window was fast closing to have work started in time to have the new monument ready for the September 20 anniversary of the Kianga No. 1 Mine explosion which claimed 13 lives, he said.

“We’re still pushing for September although the reality is we’re probably not going to have the funds in time, as it requires three months’ construction,” Mr Walker said.

The back-up plan was to officially open the new Gillespie St memorial in July next year to co-incide with the 30th anniversary of the Moura No. 4 underground disaster.

That underground disaster claimed 12 men, while another at Moura No. 2 in August 1994 killed 11.

With the individual miners who have lost their lives on the local coalfields, the latest being at Dawson mine in February, the memorial roll will total 50 names.

Mr Walker’s father Ron is among those who will be listed - the father of four having died in an accident in the Moura No.2 underground mine in November 1979.

“My father was working underground when a rib came out of the roof sidewall and struck and killed him - so that’s probably where my passion comes to build something that remembers everyone, not just those lost in the disasters,” he said.

John Walker was 15 when his father was killed and his youngest brother was just three years old, however, the family stayed on in Moura.

Mr Walker, a fitter by trade, has worked in the local coal industry for 35 years but says he has never set foot underground.

Mr Walker said the planned memorial would provide a central site to honour those killed in the mines as well as helping to educate visitors to Moura about coal mining in Queensland, and the tragedy that went with it.

Moura Community Progress remains in discussion with state and federal funding bodies, unions and mining companies to raise more funds.

The Queensland division of the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union recently donated $90,000 – allowing the group to get detailed engineering design work complete to submit to council for approval.

Other pledges have included $50,000 from the CFMEU’s national office and $50,000 from the Electrical Trades Union, Queensland.

Mr Walker said the monument was such a big project that the proponents had targeted large organisations for donations rather than the local community.

“In these tough times there’s only so much to go around and we didn’t want to drain all the money into our project and take it away from others like the local football club and swimming club,” he said.

Nevertheless the group has received great local support, including $500 donations from churches and a range of service clubs for a promotional brochure to assist its fundraising bid.

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