HISTORIC DISPLAY: Part of the Ipswich Historical Society's display revolves around our mining heritage.
HISTORIC DISPLAY: Part of the Ipswich Historical Society's display revolves around our mining heritage.

Rescue demo sure to bring back memories

THIS Saturday Ipswich residents will witness an event many still remember with a shudder and all hoped would never ever happen again - a mine rescue.

This time it will be a simulated rescue undertaken by a world-class Queensland Mines Rescue team, now based in the mining town of Dysart in Queensland's coal-rich Bowen Basin.

The team will undertake a simulated mine rescue at the Cooneana Heritage Centre which is also the most active and extensive mines museum in the region.

The six-man team travelling to Ipswich are working miners but all have completed the rigorous training to join the elite Mines Rescue Service - so elite they are on call internationally.

The rescue will simulate an underground accident - tragedies etched in the memories of many Ipswich residents.

For decades from the late 1800s, mining, especially coal mining, was the major industry of the Ipswich region and almost every family had someone in the family connected with mining - over 3000 residents worked in the coal mines at its peak and there were over 300 working mines between Ipswich, Walloon and Rosewood.

Sadly, accidents were a fact of life in the industry, especially in the earlier days.

To commemorate that, last year the Ipswich & Rosewood Coal Miners Memorial in Limestone Park was officially unveiled - it honours the 186 men and boys who lost their lives in coal mines across the region from 1843.

The wall is etched with the image of St Barbara - The Patron Saint of Miners and each of the 186 who died in mine accidents is represented with a light next to his name.

The youngest whose name is on the wall was 14 and the oldest 66.

Ipswich has played a proud and impressive role in mining and mine rescues - the first Mines Rescue Brigade in Queensland, established by the Department of Mines, started in 1909 in Booval.

Ten years later a dedicated station was built in Booval - the first fully-equipped and independent Mines Rescue Station in Australia. That building is now under the care of the Llewellyn Motors group.

The simulated rescue starts at 11am and the 'miners' members of the Ipswich Historical Society invite all those with connections to the mining industry to attend and join them afterwards for a sausage sizzle and a beer.

The simulated rescue, and the impressive mining museum at Cooneana, is one of many attractions for visitors to the Ipswich Historical Society's Golden Jubilee this Saturday.

Based in Brighton House at Cooneana, they will have public demonstrations of weaving, spinning, dyeing, and felting, using historical looms, one dated 1860, to make cloth on site.

Entry is free and the celebrations include entertainment for young and old, brass bands, fashion parades, bush poetry, real-life blacksmithing, magicians, lantern-making, food stalls, a simulated mine rescue, beer and wine bar - all with a taste of what life was like in Ipswich down through to the early days of the city.

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