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Moura, QLD

Medium sized rural service centre and coal mining town known as the 'Heart of the Dawson Valley'

Moura is not like other coal mining towns. It existed before coal was discovered in the area (the coal mine didn't open until the early 1960s) and consequently it doesn't feel like a mining town. It is more rural service centre surrounded by cattle and dairy as well as cotton which is processed at the Moura Gin. Consequently it has been known as 'The Coal and Cattle Centre of the Dawson Valley'. Although there is diversity in the town's economic base it is still easy to find evidence of its involvement with coal. The playground which lies on the northern outskirts of the town features a giant cog and a huge shovel which are part of the play equipment and the brass statue of a miner commemorating the Moura Underground No 4 Disaster is a reminder of the way tragedies have affected the district.

Location

Moura is located 593 km north-west of Brisbane and 187 km south-west of Gladstone via the Dawson Highway.

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Origin of Name

There is considerable debate about the origin of the town's name although it is known that it was taken from the Moura pastoral run which was established in the area in 1857. Some sources claim the name was taken from a local Aboriginal word for "dog"; others claim it was used to describe a "waterhole"; and still others claim the Moura run was named after the Portuguese town of Moura or the Castelo de Moura.

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Things to See and Do

Moura Underground No.4 Disaster Statue
Located the southern end of the town on the Dawson Highway, in the middle of the road, is a brass statue of a lifesize statue of a miner which commemorating the Moura Underground No 4 Mine Disaster in which 12 miners lost their lives on 16 July 1986. 
The Monument Australia website explains: "The 12 miners who were extracting pillars in the Main Dips Section were killed. Their bodies were recovered on 23rd July, 1986 after an extensive recovery operation. The Inquiry into the fatal accident was held in Rockhampton conducted before the Mining Warden and four persons having practical mining knowledge. The Inquiry commenced on 9th February, 1987 and closed on 27th February 1987. A number of recommendations were made by the members of the Inquiry, the most important of these being that flame safety lamps be prohibited from use in underground coal mines in Queensland subject to limited exceptions." For more details check out https://monumentaustralia.org.au/themes/disaster/industrial/display/92107-moura-underground-no-4-disaster-. The youngest of the miners was only 18 years old. It is appropriately located outside the Ambulance Station.

Moura Coal and Country Museum
Located at 33 Gillespie Street and open from 9.00 am - 2.00 pm on Wednesdays and Saturdays, the Moura Coal and Country Museum has a large photographic display and rooms which focus on local industries including coal mining, cotton, cattle, diary and grain growing. Part of being a mining town has resulted in a very unusual display of Japanese fans, gifts of appreciation from the Japanese Mitsui Mining Company, with which the town has formed a close relationship through industry ties.

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Other Attractions in the Area

Seeing the Mines
There are no mine tours but the Open Cut Mines can be viewed from the south or east of the town. They are located 10 km east of the town. The mines produce over 12 million tonnes of coal each year.

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History

* Prior to the arrival of Europeans the area was home to Aboriginal people from the Gangula language group.

* By 1854 Charles Marshall named his pastoral run in the area, Moura.

* The large local pastoral runs were resumed by the Queensland government in the 1930s.

* Moura was laid out in 1936 on a typical grid pattern. It was a service centre for the local farming community.

* The Moura Post Office was opened in 1939.

* In 1940 a local state primary school opened in the School of Arts building.

* By 1955 the town had both an Anglican and Catholic church.

* In the early 1960s the Kianga - Moura coalfield brought miners to the area.

* In 1961 coal from Moura was exported to Japan.

* In 1962 coal was being extracted from the local area by Thiess brothers and the Peabody Coal Company of America. 

* A town water scheme was established in 1965.

* By 1967 the open-cut coal operation was using the largest operating dragline in the world - a huge piece of equipment capable of moving 200 tonnes of coal at a time. 

* A local secondary school was opened in 1967.

* By 1968 the coalfields were the largest in Queensland and coal was being railed out to Gladstone on the coast.

* By the 1970s over 1,000 people were working in the mines.

* A local hospital was opened in 1974.

* On 16 July, 1986 the town was rocked by the Moura Underground No 4 Disaster in which 12 miners lost their lives.

* On 20 September 1975 13 miners were killed in an explosion in a mineshaft near the town. 

* On 7th August 1994 11 miners were killed in an explosion at the main BHP mine. That year the mine became open cut with no more underground mining.

* In 1996 the Moura mine started collecting methane gas for sale.

* In December, 2010 the town was seriously flooded.

* The Moura coal rail system was closed in 2011.

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Visitor Information

Moura Visitor Information Centre, 34 Gillespie Street, tel: (07) 4992 9500. Open 8.30 am - 4.30 pm.

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Useful Websites

There is a useful local website. Check out http://moura.net.au.

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