|Mary, in 1921, with her brother (seated) and stepbrothers (standing). Bill Harris, who first found coal on the mountain is standing, second from the right. Publications Album, NQ Photographic Collection, ID 3185.|
|Mary's husband, Frank Grant (at left) with rail ambulance, 1920. Publications Album, NQ Photographic Collection, ID 3199.|
Fifteen years later it was one of Mary’s step-brothers, Bill Harris, who discovered a coal seam on the mountain. Bill had been a babe-in-arms on his mother’s trek from Port Douglas, but in 1907 he went looking for Burdekin plums in a mountain gully. Whether he found plums is unrecorded, but the story of Mount Mulligan’s mines had begun.
|The tiny Mount Mulligan School ca 1920. Publications Album, NQ Photographic Collection, ID 3199.|
|The school after the 1924 extension urged by Frank Grant. Mount Mulligan Album, NQ Photographic Collection, ID 20215.|
In 1971 the 50th anniversary of the disaster was commemorated with a return to the abandoned town. Then over eighty, Mary was a much-loved guest of honour at the event and the unassuming star of the ABC documentary, “Too Young to Die”. Forty-three years after it was made this remains compelling and poignant viewing. Without Mary’s remarkable memory and her contribution to the oral, written and photographic records, our understanding of this lost world of far north Queensland’s mining communities would be immeasurably poorer.
Story by Miniata