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Step back in time: 50-year flashback

Back in 1994 the now departed Central Telegraph – a longstanding weekly newspaper that serviced the town of Biloela – put together a 50 Years of Callide Coalfields edition. Here are a few snippets from the special anniversary edition!

In April this year, we’ll be celebrating 80 years of the Callide Mine, which is an incredible milestone and one we can’t wait to share with the community.

In the lead up, we will be highlighting some of the fascinating stories that have come out of the mine since its humble beginnings on 26 April 1944 – back when a tonne of coal went for around a dollar!

The 1994 ‘50 Years of the Callide Mine’ special edition of the Central Telegraph kicked off with an account of the strong community commitment of the Callide Coalfields, a tradition that remains today.

In celebrating the commissioning of the 8750 Dragline, a game changer at the Callide Mine ever since it was installed in 1994, the paper outlined early diggers and their quest for gold. Of course, they instead found coal!

In 1944, founding fathers of the Callide Mine, Thiess Brothers, began excavations at Callide – after being commissioned to remove overburden in the very early days of coal exploration. Back in those days, a very basic D7 tractor and ripper was the tool of choice – probably considered quite high-tech in 1944!

Before long, the D7 was joined by a fleet of machinery, trucks, and equipment. At the time machinery was hard to come by, but the Thiess Brothers found a solution to the shortages – buying war disposal machinery ‘by the acre’ from New Guinea and other jungles.

Legend of the game, Colin McDonald, started in 1951 and ended up staying for a total of 33 years before retiring in 1982. During his tenure at the Callide Mine, he operated every machine, ending with the dragline.

Colin described a simpler time, when $32 for five 10-hour shifts was good money – especially with overtime on Saturdays! The workers at that time also formed the Callide Miners’ Football Club to keep them busy on weekends.

Of course, the Marion 8750 Dragline was the highlight of the 1993-1994 year, outlined in the below article.

The dragline was state-of-the-art at the time, with its 80 cubic metre bucket capable of moving 20 million cubic metres of overburden a year!

Today, the same Marion 8750 is still going strong, swinging day and night.

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