In 1921 the coal mine at Mount Mulligan blew up. A coal dust explosion. All 75 men inside the mine were killed. It was Queensland’s largest coal mining disaster.
John Kungarra stood in a cave looking out over the Mount Mulligan township. He felt the earth convulse beneath him and watched as fire and smoke roared out of the mine. A wave of terrible loss washed over him. He shook his thick, gray-black hair. He had told those white fellas to stop taking coal or they would wake Iku, the spirit of the mountain. They had scoffed at him, their faces turned to greed. They kept taking, kept waking Iku.
Celia Muffet stood in the playground with her best friend, Ellie. Two explsions and the ground shook like a birthday jelly. Celia swooned, floating to the ground like a feather on the wind. She had seen a hundred lights blink out. Only two were left, shivering in the darkness. Celia was a special child, but she did not know it. She needed someone to show her how special she was. That was John Kungarra.
James Watson, Mount Mulligan’s mines superintending engineer was ill with the Spanish flu. He had dragged himself to work to check the footings at the mines new coking chimney. He would then go back to bed. He felt the ground jar beneath him before he heard the explosions. He knew immediately what it was. A folding dread engulfed him. He had seen this before. The mine had blown up. He heaved himself out of the footings and raced toward the ropeway. There would be no rest for him now.