Bevan Kathage at the 2020 St Barbara's Day Service held at the Ipswich Rosewood Coal Miners Memorial in Limestone Park.
Bevan Kathage at the 2020 St Barbara's Day Service held at the Ipswich Rosewood Coal Miners Memorial in Limestone Park.

Coal miners’ sacrifice to build city will never be forgotten

IT was on the backs of coal miners that Ipswich was built and their sacrifices should never be forgotten.

The fifth annual St Barbara’s Day Service was held at the Ipswich Rosewood Coal Miners Memorial in Limestone Park on Friday.

The service pays tribute to the 186 men and boys who lost their lives in work accidents between 1858 and 1997.

Ipswich mayor Teresa Harding and councillors Andrew Fechner, Russell Milligan, Kate Kunzelmann and Sheila Ireland lay a wreath at the memorial.
Ipswich mayor Teresa Harding and councillors Andrew Fechner, Russell Milligan, Kate Kunzelmann and Sheila Ireland lay a wreath at the memorial.

St Barbara is the patron saint for miners and artillerymen.

Bevan Kathage comes from a family of coal miners and started working in the industry in 1968 in New South Wales before coming to work in Ipswich in 1973.

He retired in 2017.

“The family owned mines in Ipswich,” he said.

“My grandfather (August) came out (to Australia from Germany) in 1909 and he used to have three mines; one in Rosewood-Thagoona, one at Dinmore where the meatworks is and the other was at Collingwood Park.”

Mr Kathage, who lives in Raceview, said Ipswich should be proud of its roots.

He used the day to reflect on friends and colleagues who are no longer here.

“That’s not the people who have been killed necessarily but the blokes you’d normally see who aren’t here,” he said.

“The people of my era who have passed on.

“It doesn’t matter which level you were in the industry, whether you were a bloke shovelling or the general manager, you knew everyone basically by their first name.

“We should never forget the city was founded largely by the railways, the coal mines and the woollen mills. That’s the basis on which this city was built. We should remember and give thanks for that.

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“I think it’s important to remember not only the blokes who didn’t make it, my uncle is one of them, but the families who were left behind and … what was done behind the scenes

“It was the community that mourned and a family was never just left by itself.

“I don’t know if you’ll ever see anything like that again because of the nature of our current lifestyle.”

Blair MP Shayne Neumann said it was an integral event to hold each year in order to recognise those that paved the way.

“Coal mining really made Ipswich in many respects,” he said.

“When I was growing up in my class at school you were the sons and daughters of meatworkers, woollen mill workers, RAAF Base Amberley servicemen and servicewomen, coal miners and railway workers.

“You put these industries together, that’s what made Ipswich.”

The service is organised by the Ipswich Historical Society.

President Hugh Taylor said the memorial wall was built in 2015 and features the 186 names of local miners who never returned home from work.

“It represents a memorial to the industry, not to an individual or particular disaster but a memorial to the industry,” he said.

“It built the community. It built so many houses, it built so many churches. It created the community.”

Read more stories by Lachlan McIvor here.