Bundamba MP Jo-Ann Miller comforts a man at the memorial service to commemorate the 47th anniversary of the Box Flat Mine disaster.
Bundamba MP Jo-Ann Miller comforts a man at the memorial service to commemorate the 47th anniversary of the Box Flat Mine disaster. Rob Williams

PHOTOS: Lives lost in mine disaster never forgotten

ALMOST half a century on, Colin King is thankful every day he was handed the "luck of the draw."

Yesterday marked 47 years to the day of the devastating Box Flat mine disaster which claimed the lives of 17 men.

Another, Clarence Edwin Wolski, died more than a year later from the injuries he sustained from the explosion.

A large crowd gathered to pay their respects at the Swanbank memorial to remember the lives tragically lost in the course of their work and those killed trying to rescue their mates.

Early in the morning of Monday July 31, 1972, the explosion was felt across Ipswich and started as a fire that could not be extinguished.

Mr King, 79, was an undermanager in the mine but had the preceding weekend off.

"I was away when it happened," he said.

"On the Friday when I finished everything was ok and then I went away for the weekend and Monday morning this happened.

"A lot of my mates (died). I was also a member of the mines rescue team and eight of the people underground were rescue (workers). They didn't work at Box Flat but they came in from the Booval station.

"They just happened to be there... unfortunately I think it's something that no one ever expected."

He said the support of those in attendance meant a lot.


"I know a lot of the immediate family have passed on," he said.

"I think it's great people still remember.

"The mining industry in Ipswich is just about completed.

"A lot of the young ones, I believe, don't realise what happened. For people to recognise it I think it's wonderful that particularly younger people that can come and continue this over the next few years."

Joe Llewellyn said he knew all of the men who died in the disaster.

"To honour them I come down from Hervey Bay to be here," he said.

"It's very special."

John Lambert was in the tunnel mouth when it happened.

"It's an occasion to remember the blokes I knew who are not here with us any more," he said.

Lance Waldon survived the blast and recalls seeing the tunnel filled with flames before being hurled backwards.

He remembers returning home from the hospital with his wife crying on the front steps of their home as she thought he had perished.

"I think it's a very important day in Ipswich history... a very sad day," he said.

In remembrance

  • Kenneth Cobbin
  • William Drsydale
  • Robert Jones
  • William Marshall
  • John McNamara
  • Walter Murphy
  • Brian Rasmussen
  • Harold Reinhardt
  • Walter Williams
  • William Drewett
  • Andrew Haywood
  • Brian Randolph
  • Darryl Reinhardt
  • John Roach
  • Lenard Rogers
  • Maurice Tait
  • Mervyn Verrenkamp