In the tight-knit community of Moranbah there is a man who you could say is its heartbeat. Meet Peter Panther, a beloved figure whose infectious love for life and passion for drumming has left a lasting mark on the town and its people.
Ever since he was a kid Peter has always marched to the beat of his own drum. Picking up a drumstick at the tender age of 10, he discovered a passion for percussion that would shape his life’s journey.
In his early years he ventured far from home, starting out building caravans in Victoria and WA before finding himself on the railway in Port Hedland. Eventually, Peter’s path led him to the construction of Peak Downs Mine where he became an integral part of the mining community.
It wasn’t long before he was picking up the sticks and playing the drums at the newly built Black Nugget in 1974, playing in various bands like The Monsoons, The Formations, All That Jazz, Manana, and Mixed Nuts. Peter said drumming has always been a significant part of his life.
“It’s my way of being able to relax and enjoy memories of my past.”
Over the years his love for drumming deepened and he discovered the joy of passing on his experiences to others. For more than 35 years Peter has been devotedly teaching drumming to toddlers, teenagers and adults alike, becoming an invaluable mentor and inspiration to his students.
With each lesson and performance Peter and his partner Trish, who are affectionately known as “extended grandparents”, have embraced every student. Their genuine care and encouragement have fostered an environment where aspiring musicians thrive, creating bonds that extend beyond the drumming room.
Since moving to Moranbah in 1972, Peter has given back to the community by sharing the sound of drums as part of the Moranbah Drummers.
What began as lessons under his own house with just three drum kits and a cassette player evolved into a cherished tradition of annual breakup parties and concerts. Through their performances Peter and his talented ensemble have enlivened the town’s events, becoming a symbol of unity and joy.
Retiring in 2012 after a 40-year service in the coal industry, Peter chose to remain in Moranbah with his partner Trish and their beloved Moranbah Drummers.
Last month the community came together for a bittersweet moment as Peter, accompanied by his son and a past student, gave a farewell concert at the markets. It was a heartfelt last hurrah as Peter slowly put down his sticks for good. The turnout at the event was a testament to the impact Peter has had on countless lives throughout his teaching and drumming career.
As Peter takes his final bow he will be remembered as the drumming legend who shared not only the sound of drums but the joy of life. His rhythmic heartbeat will continue to resonate through Moranbah, a tribute to his unwavering commitment to the town he holds dear.