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Farewell Pat



Retired coal miner and local history lover Pat Quinn was a longtime supporter of @ The Coalface. As most of you will know, a little over a year ago Pat passed away. Sadly, we did not hear about his passing until recently. Although it comes late, we pay tribute to a man that we admired greatly.

I first met Pat not long after starting with @ The Coalface. Pat was loquacious and friendly and I would happily sit and listen to him reminisce about his days in the industry. It didn’t take me long to realise that here was a rich source of fodder for the magazine. Our very first history page was created to showcase the gear that Pat and his mates used to take underground at Liddell State in the 50 and 60’s which he had lovingly kept. Pat then went on to help us with many more stories.

But it wasn’t just Pat’s incredible knowledge of our area’s history and mining heritage that made a lasting impact on me. Pat epitomised what it was to be a miner. Hard working, loyal, genuine. He made me proud to be a voice for the industry.

But let’s go back to the start. Pat came to Singleton in 1948 at the age of 10 and from that day Singleton would remain the place he would call home. Only a couple days after his 16th birthday he started at Liddell State Coal mine as apprentice electrical fitter. While he had wanted to be a teacher, his parents encouraged him to get a trade and even at that age a sense of responsibility was forefront in everything he did.

Though if Pat was going to do something he was going to do it his way. He knew the State Mine was looking for an apprentice carpenter but he wasn’t keen on that so instead he took it upon himself to find out who the engineer was and ride over to his house on his bike. “I hear you’re looking for an apprentice engineer”, says Pat. “No, we aren’t.” was the reply. But lo and behold a couple of days later the engineer shows up at Pat’s door and tells him he’s hired. No doubt impressed with Pat’s go-getter attitude.

Gaining a trade in the mining industry in those days was hard work. An apprenticeship was five years and the study for TAFE you did at your own expense. The pay wasn’t great either, with Pat bringing home $4.25 a week. But as Pat said, you knew it would pay off in the end.

And it did for Pat. He stayed at Liddell State Mine for 18 years and those years working underground was where he learned first-hand the incredible bonds that are made between miners. He was there for the transition to Cummock Colliery and was there for the well-known fire in 1971 that ultimately led to the closure of the mine and the end of his underground journey.

Next for Pat was a short stint at Liddell Colliery before moving to Hebden Opencut for 9 years before his final move to Mt Thorley where he stayed until retiring after 41 years in the industry.

It was at Mt Thorley that Pat got to up his education. The engineer in charge left for Qld and Pat had only a few weeks to pass his engineers exams so he could be appointed electrical engineer in charge. He was proud to say he was the head leco in charge of everything from light bulbs to draglines.

When I would speak with Pat about his long career there was always one thing that shone through everything he said. Mateship. He would boast about the friends he made that remained mates for his whole life. He would regale me with stories of what they would get up to when he worked at the State Mine. The workforce was mainly locals and they socialised together outside of work and the stories Pat would fondly recount often involved a laugh. As he would say, in those days everyone had a laugh with each other, but it was always in good fun.

But it wasn’t always good times, it was a hard and dangerous job. I remember Pat telling me, “You won’t find a single retired mineworker who hasn’t seen the worst of the job or has been on site when someone lost their life or a terrible accident has occurred.” When I asked him why they would keep going back he looked at me like I was being stupid. “You always showed back up for your next shift because you never considered doing anything different.”

To spend 41 years in an industry allowed Pat to see so many changes. He was especially pleased about the safety practices that he saw improve over the years. When he started not even boots were compulsory, no one knew first aid and there was no such thing as an induction. The work was hands on, you walked down the pit and out of the pit. You would never see a fat coal miner back in those days he used to say.

Pat married young in 1957, and had two children, Christine and Mark, with his first wife. But it didn’t work out and in the early 60s he met Ann and they had a son, Matthew. He was so very proud of his whole family. A good education was important to him and he was so very proud of his kids and grandkids achievements.

When Pat retired, a new life started for him, one which quickly turned from interest to passion to love. Pat and Ann joined the Singleton Historical Society and for the next 20 years devoted countless hours to preserving the history of Singleton.

Also a member of the local Probus Club, Pat went on to develop town tours, escorting visiting historical societies and clubs around the streets of Singleton, regaling them with stories. He was always busy organising trips, guest speaking, researching and conducting the history tours. As he would joke, “Being retired means I’m busy 8 days a week!”

Ann shares the story how at the end of the Retired Mineworkers Association 50th dinner someone came up to Pat after his speech and asked him, “where can I buy the book.” But there was no book, it was Pat’s encyclopedia memory. Never one to rely on notes and never one to run out of things to say. If he didn’t know the answer to a question you could bet he would soon find it.

A true lover of history, a dedicated husband and father, and truly generous in giving his time to community organisations, it’s no surprise that Pat was a Citizen of the Year Nominee. It’s just one of the many accolades he deservedly received.

Ann and Pat were married on September 6th, 1969. 1n 2019, on their 50th wedding anniversary, it also became the day that would be forever remembered as the day Pat passed away.

Pat, although you are no longer here with us your stories will stay with us forever.

Pat with his beloved wife Ann

IMG: Pat with the Liddell State Mine Shield which is proudly displayed at Singleton Museum


Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service is seeking leader to join Advisory Committee



The Westpac Rescue Helicopter is calling for Expressions of Interest from local business and community leaders to join our Hunter Advisory Committee. The Committee represents the region comprising Newcastle and the Hunter, Central Coast, Central West and Mid North Coast. Its purpose is to advise and assist the Board and Senior Management Team on matters relevant to the local region while providing governance and oversight on decision making.

The Committee currently has 7 members, including its Chair. Nominations are open for one new member and this appointment will be through a merit based process that considers skills, experience and qualifications. 

Expressions of interest close on Friday 16 October

Position advert and Position Description:

This is an unpaid voluntary position and the Service would like to thank our Community for your continued support as we operate 24-7 for all people in our community.

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Students Have A Yarn



St James’ Muswellbrook welcomes a newly constructed yarning circle thanks to the generosity of Malabar Resources.

Fully funded by Malabar, the Yarning Circle will give students and teachers at St James’ Primary School in Muswellbrook the opportunity to sit together and enhance their understanding of Indigenous culture.

A Yarning Circle is an important part of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and a harmonious and collaborative way of communicating. It promotes respectful relationships and provides an open environment to share cultural knowledge.

In August Malabar designed and installed the Yarning Circle which involved the placement of more than 5000kg of sandstone blocks.

Malabar’s Manager of Health, Safety, Environment and Community, Donna McLaughlin said, “We are delighted to continue building our relationship with St James’ and other schools in the region by providing resources that help their specific needs.”

“We look forward to seeing the Yarning Circle develop as native plants and artwork are added to the space, which will further facilitate cultural learning and understanding.”

The new space was enthusiastically received by students. “Thank you for this amazing and respectful area where we can teach others about our customs and traditions,” said year 6 student Tushawn.

St James’ Aboriginal Education Teacher, Tania Thompson expressed how thankful they are to have a designated place for our CREST Crew to meet and yarn.

“When we meet as a whole group from K-6 around the Yarning Circle, it gives students the opportunity to bond, form strong ties, and unite as one mob,” she said.

“Communicating, sharing and problem solving as a team are some of the extremely important life skills that we refine when meeting for Yarning Circle.”

“We learn to listen to one another and to respect the ideas and opinions of others regardless of their age, as we all have wisdom to share.”

St James’ will use the Yarning Circle as an extension of their classrooms and teaching practice to foster knowledge of Indigenous culture by engaging both indigenous and non-indigenous students and teachers.

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Have You Checked On Your Mates?



This year has been an absolute shocker and it’s no secret that it has certainly taken a toll on all of our mental health in some way. R U OK? Day this year was more important than ever, and our mining companies and leaders went above and beyond to encourage employees to have meaningful conversations and connect with those around them. Let’s remember to take care and reach out to our mates every day of the year.


This year with COVID-19 restrictions in place the McLanahan team’s participation in R U OK? Day was a little different compared with previous years when they have hosted an R U OK? Day ambassador at their Newcastle premises.

Still wanting to make a difference, McLanahan donated over $2,000 to Craig Clarkes in his Coals to Newcastle Ocean Swim to raise money for Beyond Blue.

“Wow what an amazing generous donation from the McLanahan team. Hugely appreciate your kind praise and lifting the fundraising campaign over the $30,000 mark. Thanks heaps. I will be in touch.”

All staff members received an R U OK? lanyard and a yellow iced cupcake with the R U OK? flag.

DK Heavy Plant Services

RU OK? – that is what everyone was asking in the DK Heavy Plant Services (DKHPS) Workshop on September 10.

Too often people struggle in silence, do not know what resources are available, or even where to start when talking about their mental health.

Sue Milton, General Manager of Upper Hunter Community Services, was able to share with the DKHPS workforce simple advice and resources on these issues and whilst together enjoyed a great afternoon tea and conversation.  


To start the conversation, Banlaw grabbed some delish donuts for the team to enjoy, whilst taking time out to ask work mates R U OK?

“As you can see from our cheeky photo’s, the donuts were a hit and a way for all areas of the business to mingle and remind staff the importance of prioritising their mental health and looking out for those around them,” said Internal Sales Coordinator, Lauren Tonks.

With the combined efforts of their Newcastle and Perth offices, Banlaw successfully raised $216 for suicide prevention.

Northwest Mining

The team at Northwest Mining started the day bright and early with a mental health toolbox talk for R U OK? Day and encouraged the guys to participate by wearing their TradeMutt shirts – a workwear brand, with the mission to make the invisible issue of mental health impossible to ignore. 5% of TradeMutt’s profits go towards ‘This is a Conversation Starter Foundation’.

This led into a BBQ lunch for everyone, cooked by the company owner Shayne Clark. “We discussed some statistics on mental health and chatted about how to start conversations if you’re concerned about someone’s mental health,” said Shayne.

“Everyone was keen to be involved and engaged in the conversations, it was a great day.”


The Bengalla Team celebrated R U OK? Day this year, focusing on teaching people that there is more to say after the initial R U OK? It is important to keep the conversation going and check in on your work mates.

To support the initiative employees enjoyed a coffee and a Kit Kat before and after shift to start the conversation with their work mates. The four important steps include:

– Ask R U OK?
– Listen without judgement
– Encourage action
– Check in

It was an opportunity for team mates to check in on each other and it was well supported from all of site.

MACH Energy

R U OK Day saw Tom, Chloe and Matt take the opportunity to catch up over coffee and acknowledge that a conversation could change a life.

There was discussion around keeping an eye on your mates, actually asking R U OK? and what’s next after you’ve asked the question. The team remembered there’s more to say after R U OK? such as;

– How are you travelling?
– You don’t seem yourself – I am here if you want to talk about anything.
– Have you been feeling this way for a while?
– Have you thought about talking to your doctor or a health professional?
– Just wanted to check in and see how you’re doing.


The PERSAS team enjoyed each other’s company during a BBQ and discussed the benefits of R U OK? Day, while social distancing of course.

One thing that was emphasised on the day was not waiting until the next R U OK? day to have open discussions regarding each other’s wellbeing, instead keeping it as an open page where employees can talk to each other at any time.

Morgan Engineering

The R U OK day message is important to Morgan Engineering, but not only just one day a year. Mental Health is important to the Morgan Engineering workforce all year round. This year R U OK? Day coincided with the company’s fortnightly Toolbox talk, and Business Development Manager Graham Sutton said that everyone got involved with the conversation.

“It was a great opportunity to discuss what mental health means to our company,” said Graham.

“With many of employees on shift work and having to spend a lot of time away from their family and friends, it’s important for the whole Morgan Engineering team to be there for each other and check on their mates.”

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