Good Reading : October 2015
BOOK BITE 1 either side of the belt all the way to the top. You only had a 2-foot gap to jump off onto the walkway. If you went in, instant death; if landing headfirst onto coal didn’t kill you, the coal coming off the conveyor belt would, and then you’d be buried in it. I’ve been there since and I can’t believe we did this on a regular basis, until we got caught. ‘Go to your room, both of ya, and wait for me.’ Got a good hiding, grounded for a month, and had to do jobs all day for four weekends. Still the best ride I’ve ever been on, it was worth it. It was inevitable that we’d get caught. The miners parked their cars close to the bunkers and clambered into this wonderful trolley that took them up the mountain to the mine. The trolley could take about 30 men at a time. It ran on rails and it was pulled slowly and gently up the mountain by a large cable. The engine powering the cable was up top, so you couldn’t hear anything as it glided up and down between shifts. I never tired of watching this curved, metal-roofed caterpillar climb up through a corr idor of majestic eucalypts. It’s hard to describe. It was a quiet, poetic symphony, if that makes sense. The miners would alight the trolley and take their black visages to the shower block. As a coal-dust-covered crowd, they had a kind of zombie look about them. They’d come out the other end in clean shorts and shirts, and head for their cars. ‘Hey you boys, what are you doing on that bloody conveyor belt!’ Looking down on three Brylcreemed heads running towards us, with no way out. Sprung! We saw Superman crush coal into diamonds on TV. We stuck lumps of coal on the BHP railway track. The train crushed and popped the coal brilliantly, but no diamonds. The Bastard from the Bush by John Jarratt is published by Echo Publishing, rrp $32.95.