Mount Thorley Warkworth miner Mark King may be a butcher by trade, but he’s once again the Miner of the Year.
For the sixth year the Bellbird local has been named winner of the Lightning Ridge Easter Festival Miner’s Rickshaw Challenge.
Held on the Easter long weekend last month, the challenge attracts entrants from all over NSW for a gruelling event.
Mark began competing in 2013 and, since it changed to a new format in 2017, has beaten off all comers to keep the title.
The Easter festival is Lightning Ridge’s most popular yearly event, attracting thousands of people to the opal town.
The Rickshaw Challenge begins with participants holding jackhammers aloft with outstretched arms for a pre-determined period then sprinting about 50 metres to a large heap of opal tailings while pushing a miner’s wheelbarrow (rickshaw).
Every participant then shovels opal dirt into the rickshaw and races back to the opposite end of the course where they manoeuvre the dirt into a 44-gallon drum.
Once the drum is full to the top, the contestant’s time is taken by a timekeeper. Filling the drum may take three or more trips back to the opal dirt pile.
Mark said he had been mining opals at Lighting Ridge for around 20 years now.
“For the last 15 I have been involved in many of the Lightning Ridge Easter Festival events,” he said.
Mark trains for the event between Christmas and Easter by doing weights, bike riding and running and doesn’t intend to stop.
“I’m 50 now – I might stop when someone beats me, but I’ve still got a few years in me.
“Old fellow who used to win did it until he was 60.”
Mark took away $2k in prize money for his win but says it’s the experience that matters.