Brilliant telling of Beaconsfield story

May 11, 2007
By

Bad Ground: Inside the Beaconsfield Mine Rescue, by Tony Wright (HarperCollins, $36.99):

When the earth moved in the Tasmanian mining town of Beaconsfield on Anzac Day last year, trapping three miners underground, it had a profound impact on everyone in the town. That day, the news that three men were trapped and probably dead caught the attention of Aussies everywhere.

Five days later, when two of the miners were found to be alive was the day the world took notice.

Larry Knight died in the mine collapse and his body was found just a couple of days later but Brant Webb and Todd Russell were in for a much longer wait to leave the mine.

The two men were trapped in a basket at the end of the arm of the vehicle they’d been working in, known as a telehandler.

They were both crammed into a space too small for one man and after the collapse had to claw their way out from under rubble and rocks.

For the next 5 days they survived by collecting water in their helmets and hoping for rescue.

They talked, they thought about their families and they sang the only song they both knew the lyrics to — The Gambler. It was the sound of them singing that song that led to them being found on April 30.

However, it wasn’t to be that easy and so began an incredible rescue effort that Hollywood would be proud of. The two men weren’t freed from their rocky cell until May 9.

Journalist Tony Wright — who was at Beaconsfield, covering the story as it unfolded, experiencing the drama firsthand — has done a brilliant job of presenting the story of Brant Webb and Todd Russell.

He’s kept it simple and it works. I knew the outcome of this story but still felt like I was on the edge of my seat until the miners were rescued.

Some stories just don’t need embellishing.

Jillian Allison-Aitken

I come from the other land down under, where men are men, and sheep are nervous. I'm a sub-editor and in the past have been a proof-reader, news editor and web editor. I am also an ex-columnist, and book and software reviewer for the local daily newspaper.I still read. A lot. And surf the web. Also a lot.You'll find a little about both of those pastimes here, and on By George.

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