Former Collinsville miners Wayne Munro and Brett Sellings with the bronze pit pony installed in 2015. Photo: Contributed
Former Collinsville miners Wayne Munro and Brett Sellings with the bronze pit pony installed in 2015. Photo: Contributed

A miner's best mate - the incredible tale of our pit ponies

The long history of pit ponies and the strength of the Collinsville community have inspired a new book that will help immortalise the stories for years to come.

A Miner's Best Friend, produced by Collinsville Connect Telecentre with support from Glencore, takes a look back at the important role pit ponies played in mining in the Collinsville area and the way the animals inspired the community to band together when the town hit a low point.

Thirty years ago the last remaining Collinsville pit ponies, Wharrier and Mr Ed, left the No. 2 mine for the last time.

It marked the end of decades of partnership between the miners and the horses, as they helped haul coal to the surface and move heavy equipment underground.

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In the years leading up to 2015, Collinsville hit a low point as cuts forced miners to look elsewhere for work and the town's two pubs had shut.

So the town banded together at the start of 2015 with the idea to create the Pit Pony Experience to help attract visitors to town.

A crowd-funding campaign raised $190,500, a whopping $40,500 over target, which funded a grand bronze pit pony sculpture, donors' wall and a drive trail dotted with stunning murals to create "selfie walls".

The release of A Miner's Best Friend marks the fifth anniversary of the launch of the Pit Pony Experience.

The book documents the role the pit ponies played throughout the years, how they came to be taken out of mining and the story of how Collinsville created the Pit Pony Experience.

New book A Miner's Best Friend, produced by the Collinsville Connect Telecentre, celebrates the history of the pit pony in Collinsville. Photo: Contributed
New book A Miner's Best Friend, produced by the Collinsville Connect Telecentre, celebrates the history of the pit pony in Collinsville. Photo: Contributed

It's full of stunning flashback photos and social images from the day the statue was installed.

Sue Clark from the Collinsville Connect Telecentre said installing the sculpture was a significant moment for the town.

"We thought it was important for people to reminisce a bit," she said.

"It was important for the time, the mine had closed, it was a down point in our history, it has come back since then.

"It was really great to see the crowd-funding, we look back now and think that's a lot of money.

"From a Collinsville perspective it showed the strength of our community, we've been through a lot through the years."

Mrs Clark said the telecentre had an image archive online that was in the process of being upgraded, but they understood not everyone accesses information digitally.

"The coffee table book was a way for people to look at these stories and histories in a different format," she said.

The Pit Pony statue in Collinsville.
The Pit Pony statue in Collinsville.

A Miner's Best Friend is the second book in a series produced by the Collinsville Connect Telecentre, which has a vision to create a book a year to celebrate the strong history of the town.

Proceeds from the first book, Our Stories Unearthed, funded A Miner's Best Friend and money from this latest book will fund the next book, which will mark 100 years of Collinsville State School.

A Miner's Best Friend is a limited edition with only 350 copies available. It can be purchased at the telecentre for $45.


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