Saturday, April 3, 2010


Fred Moore worked as a miner from the age of fourteen, and spent 30 years in the
Nebo Colliery at Mount Kembla.

He retired in 1982 and later published two books on oral history of the Australian mining industry, with Ray Harrison and Paddy Gorman - “At the Coalface”(1998) “Back at the Coalface”(2007).

He was the first person to be made a life member of the Miner’s Federation, where he served as a rank and file union leader up to international level. His awards and life memberships are too numerous to mention here, but some highlights are his pioneering work with Aboriginal people which has led him to be initiated as a tribal elder in the Illawarra. He is the only male honorary member of the Miner’s Women’s Auxiliary. It is believed that he rejected his awarded OAM.

People may not be aware of this important point about the Mining Industry - the workers fought tooth and nail for decades, to achieve the rights that we all take for granted in all industries today - better pay, a 35 hour week, accident compensation, superannuation, safety regulations, and sick pay.

Before they started working on these issues through activism, these benefits just didn’t exist for anyone. Apart from working in slave labour conditions, they were vilified, harassed, jailed and even in some instances killed for trying to action their demands. They laid down their lives in more ways than just an extremely dangerous job.

It’s important that we don’t forget who we have to thank for our quality of life today. Fred was a big part of what we all take for granted.

He’s now 88 years old and still full of beans, still helping people out, and the nicest person you could care to meet. He lives with his wife May in a Dapto cottage festooned with relics from his career in mining, and a mad backyard with a recycled hand-built aviary from his second career as a bird breeder, now filled with gewgaws and surrounded by a plethora of garden sculptures.

All photographs by, and used with the kind permission of Fran Poulton © 2010. Photos edited by Darian Zam. Not to be reproduced without permission from the copyright holder.

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