© 2018 Greg & Sylvia RAY

A Catalina almost bombed Cessnock

On April 22, 1946, some residents of Cessnock were told by police to evacuate their homes and remove their children to safety. A Catalina flying boat from Rathmines RAAF base was going to drop bombs nearby, and authorities wanted to make sure there were no accidental casualties. A Catalina flying boat from the Rathmines base at Lake Macquarie, circa 1942. The unexpected evacuation order had nothing to do with the widespread severe flooding across the Lower Hunter at the time. Instead, it was fire that prompted the demand. Earlier that week a disused portion of Cessnock…

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The Rothbury Colliery “riot” of 1929

IT was December 16, 1929. Christmas was just around the corner, but it wasn’t shaping up to be a merry one for many residents of the Hunter Valley Coalfields of NSW. In March, thousands of coalminers had been locked out of their workplaces by mine owners whose profits were being eroded by the steadily unfolding financial catastrophe of the Great Depression. The mine owners wanted the miners to take a hefty pay-cut, but the miners refused – unless and until the mine owners opened their books and revealed the true state of their profits and costs.…

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Coal pile to the moon

To the moon, with plenty left over. That’s how far the coal mined from the Hunter Valley in NSW during the decade up to 2010 would have reached, if it had been stacked into a two-square-metre pillar. I did that calculation when I was working as a reporter at The Newcastle Herald, the newspaper serving the city of Newcastle. Newcastle is the second city of NSW and lies at the mouth of the Hunter Valley. It is often reputed to be the world’s largest coal port, in terms of volume. My figures didn’t count the coal…

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