INSPIRED DESIGN: A miner's helmet provided inspiration for the dome stucture that is the centrepoint of the Moura Miners' Memorial.
INSPIRED DESIGN: A miner's helmet provided inspiration for the dome stucture that is the centrepoint of the Moura Miners' Memorial.

Memorial a fitting tribute

"History is made up of good things and bad things. And this is Moura's history, and it is our legacy to honour these men.

"The Moura Miners' Memorial is an absolutely fitting memorial to them, and it is time it was done.” - John Hempseed, retired metal worker and former Moura union representative for 40 years

Constructing a memorial to the 50 miners who have died in Moura's three mining disasters and mining accidents in the area has been an emotional journey for the town - many people know someone who didn't return home after work one day, many have lived near a family who lost their father, brother or son, and many have felt the collective pain of a town in mourning after losing another of its men.

John Hempseed, who began work in Moura in April, 1972, and finished in December, 2012, said the men who have died in tragic circumstances in the region's mining industry, have paid the "ultimate price in not coming home to their family and friends”.

"We wanted to honour everybody. And this memorial is giving everyone, as well as family and friends who didn't get a body back, somewhere else to pay their respects.

"And it's a reminder for everybody as to what can happen.”

Mr Hempseed, who now lives in Emu Park, said the design of the Moura Miners' Memorial was futuristic and he hoped it could also become interactive and tell the stories of the men it represents.

"It was designed to have things added to it in time.”

Mr Hempseed lived in the same street as two men who did not make it out of Underground No. 4 in 1986 - Peter Wanning and Paul Lang.

He was not working on the day of 1975's Kianga explosion, and in 1986 he was onsite, but not underground as he worked in open-cut.

In 1994, when an explosion devastated the Underground No. 2 mine, Mr Hempseed had had a shift changed, and was required to work during the day rather than at night when the blast took place.

"So I knew most people. It's taken its toll, and I have deep respect for those people and those families.

"When I heard about the memorial being built, I was very, very happy to come on board and do whatever I could.

"Moura has suffered deeply.”

Shane Howkins, owner of Buildabull - the company who have worked with designers and completed the new Memorial - said he knows the opening ceremony will be emotional.

"You do become part of it for a while. And now that the memorial build is finishing, you get to sit back and see it.

"It will be emotional getting to meet some of the guys and hear the stories. It makes you feel part of it.”

Mr Howkins said he had been keen to be involved as soon as he saw the plans.

"We love doing point of difference - a job where you'll probably never do another one the same - and it's rewarding when you see it in the community and the fact that it means a lot to the community.

"It was definitely a pleasure and an honour to get the job.”

Mr Howkins said he hopes the structure becomes a place where people can come and pay their respects "for everyone who has lost their lives”.

When the main dome was erected, Mr Howkins said 10 men were involved, and three or four men for most of the time it was in construction.

He said the dome was part assembled in Rockhampton to make sure it worked, then shipped to Brisbane to be galvanised, and then sent to Moura.

Buildabull worked closely with GJK Contractors owned by Glenn Knox, for the steel fabrication and structural work,

The final design is contemporary and industrial, and features a centre podium with structures representing a miner's helmet. It's representative of a miner's helmet, underground shaft entry and terrace open-cut.

"Overall, it's pretty amazing really. It's a credit to all those involved to have come up with the idea, and the commitment to get it here is pretty amazing.”

Design Consultant and artist Bill Gannon of Gannon & Gannon Assoc, who worked on the creation of the Memorial and worked closely with Buildabull, will also be one of the guest speakers at the official opening.

Mr Gannon said he was aiming to create a "respectful and interesting” memorial that tells the story of the area and its men, while also providing a place for people to mourn and remember their loved ones.

"I hope people - young or old - when they go through the memorial have a sense of reflection.

"I want it to be a space where we think about who we are, what we've done, and who those men were. It's about our respect for those who've had their lives cut short.”

He said the design of the structure allowed for a "good sense of daylight” and included two spotlights for night time.

"I hope it's a peaceful place where people can reflect and remember. It's a contemplative space, so it will be personal.

"Even for those who don't have family there, you can get a sense of the brotherhood of man.”

He said that when he has been in the space, appreciating the serenity, birds had flown through the dome, adding to the calm and peaceful ambience.

"We designed it so the terrace goes on to the grass area and the kids can roll on the grass and down into the Queensland Bottle Trees. Those trees were already there and they have been retained.”

He said the design for the dome pavilion and entry tunnels had been finished in conjunction with Alderson Landscape Architects, and his son Luke Gannon, had also worked as a chief designer.

Mr Gannon said it had been a "joy” working with Buildabull on such a significant structure.

"It was a privilege, in fact.”

BUILDING AND DESIGN

Design Consultant & Artist: Bill Gannon (Gannon & Gannon Assoc)

Architect: Alderson & Associates Pty Ltd

Structural Engineer: Lait Consulting

Project Managers: N G Gardiner & Associates Pty Ltd

Construction: Buildabull Pty Ltd

Fabrication: GJK Contractors

Electrical: Country Queensland Electrical


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