Thunder in a Cloudless Sky
This exhibition places the disaster in a continuum beginning with the area’s indigenous history, and including the flora and fauna, geography, and foregrounding village life at the time of the 1902 disaster. It highlights the realities of multiple deaths, burials and body-handling in a small community using professionally authored exhibition panels, displays of cultural artefacts, information, and moving image.
The focal point of the exhibition is a stretcher covered in a shroud with the hand-written names of all 96 victims. The short film ‘That Day in 1902’ - described as ‘poetry with sound’ - uses short moving clips combined with black frames that allow the viewer to imagine and interact with the story.
Victim posters bring together for the first time details of individual miners, giving an insight into who they were, where they were working at the time of the disaster, and the families who’d never be the same again.
Such an enormous catastrophe demands to be remembered. Those 96 men & boys should not be forgotten.
Thunder in a Cloudless Sky is proudly brought to you by the ‘in kind’ services and donations of so many community members and local businesses. Thank you to all those who through donations, information, advice or practical support made this exhibition possible. Thank you also to all those that in so many other ways supported the Mt Kemba Heritage Centre or contributed to our knowledge of Mt Kembla's history for the benefit of future generations.
With fond memories of Cate Stevenson OAM, responsible for establishing this ‘keeping place’ and obtaining a start up grant from the Dendrobium Community Enhancement Program before she passed away.
‘Thunder in a Cloudless Sky’, delves into one of the darkest days in Australia’s history - the 31st of July 1902. Mt Kembla's permanent exhibition presents Mt Kembla’s unique and tragic story - the story of the mine disaster that took the lives of 96 men and boys, leaving behind 33 widows and 120 fatherless children. The disaster remains Australia’s worst industrial accident.
Pit Pony Display
Mt Kembla Heritage Centre's pit pony display tells the story of our animal companions who worked and died side by side with coal miners in the dark underground tunnels of the Mt Kembla Colliery. There were thirty horses working the pit at the time of the 1902 disaster. Eighteen never made it out alive.
Pit Ponies continued to be used in local coal mines until 1969. Many people have fond memories of the ponies and their joyful gallop up to Windy Gully for their four-week Christmas holiday break. The display includes name plates from their stables and a horse register used by the mine's hostler to record the details of each pony.