In autumn 2006 the nation held its breath for 14 days until finally Beaconsfield’s Uniting Church bell pealed in the pre-dawn darkness for the first time since the end of WWII. The men were out!

In autumn 2006 the nation held its breath for 14 days until finally Beaconsfield’s Uniting Church bell pealed in the pre-dawn darkness for the first time since the end of WWII. For good measure, an air raid siren was sounded and the local fire engines woke up anyone who’d slept through all that. The men were out!

Tragically, one miner, Larry Knight, perished in the rockfall on April 25th, but two others, Brant Webb and Todd Russell, miraculously survived – longer than any other people trapped underground. After 14 nights they were finally released and walked out of the mine at 5.58am on May 9th. The nation breathed a sigh of relief.

Once called Brandy Creek, Beaconsfield is in Tasmania’s scenic Tamar Valley, a region now known more for vineyards rather than spirits. A museum stands next to the mine and there are plans for expansion and a Mine Rescue display due to open later in 2008. Outside, a plaque on “Larry’s Rock” commemorates the tragedy – and triumph.

Where // Beaconsfield (pop. 1000) is located on the western banks of the Tamar River in the heart of the Tamar Valley Wine Region in northeastern Tasmania.

Did you know? // Regarded as the richest gold town in Tasmania by the 1880s, at its peak 53 companies worked Beaconsfield’s goldmines. The last of those mines closed in 1914, and only began again in the early 1990s when mining again became more economically viable.

 

Enjoy this article?

You can find it in Issue 20 along with
loads of other great stories and tips.

BUY THIS ISSUE