Borehole Exhibition :: 15 July - 25 October 2007
To mark the 50 th anniversary of the Borehole Rescue Mandurah Community Museum created an exhibition of spoken memories and photographs of the event. The exhibition celebrated the unique community spirit within Mandurah and acknowledged significant efforts undertaken by the people of Mandurah at that time.
"Well it was just, well it was such a great feeling, you wouldn't really, you couldn't describe. To see him come up just alive was the greatest thing in the world. "
Quotes from the Exhibition
I was in the pub playing darts.
This fellow, I dunno who it was rushed in and says “There's a little kid fallen down a bore hole we need everyone to come and see if we can dig him out.” So with that the bar was emptied, you know everyone rushed home and got a shovel and away we went.
I can remember and during the night there were flood lights put up and everyone worked thru the night and it was about mid afternoon when the little boy fell down, Graham Davies by the way was his name. When he fell down it was about mid afternoon when the old man would have had his cup of tea but it was around about the same time the next day that they eventually got the little boy out, but it was the miners that had the know-how and the equipment to get him out. It was a mighty effort.
But you know the little kid was down there for 24 hours and ventilation was perhaps the key to it all they would have got him out eventually with the digging but ventilation, keeping him alive was another thing and they had, I remember, a doctor, a Dr Webster organised two vacuum cleaners one blowing air in and one sucking air out to keep the air fresh. When he was finally rescued the little kid had cuts and abrasions but otherwise, unhurt. It was marvellous.
People just clapped and cheered and cried.
Well, they took the power from our place because we were the last house in that street with the power.
I presume it was Dr Webster, I can't remember exactly, now I think it was Dr Webster and he was lassoing the little blokes hands to see if he could pull him out and I was holding the torch for him so he could shine it down so he could see what he was doing ……..but that wasn't successful because he was wedged too tight.
He (Father Harold Bourne) was good mates with the little blokes Dad, you know.
Dad and myself used to sink quite a few wells around the place.
Mandurah was so small it was more or less concentrated on the limestone area, you know. All the best water comes out of the limestone, so…
Well, I think it was at work that we were notified that there had been an accident, down the borehole, some child had gone down the borehole, so we all decided we'd go straight to there.
I think it was when Harold Bourne turned round and said “well we'll start sinking a well down beside it”. So we all hopped straight in, we got a liner and everybody started digging and we got down about I suppose ten feet, and somebody said “You can't do this, this is not the right way”, we all had a bit of a debate, a bit of an argument about it and then Harold Bourne, which he was the main worker as far as I was concerned, he was organising the lot. We had to stop and by this time they said the Collie Miners were coming over, and actually they took over and we just all anything that they wanted we just hopped in and helped.
We had air running down, that was supplied by the Water Supply, pretty smartly by this, I can't think of the fellas name but to me he was one of the main stays. He had this big compressor there thing, and that broke down, he had another one over there and he was really helping as much as anybody.
Oh well, they had to do that, they done that very early too. Of course they had the place set up with lights and bobcat type of thing; you know digging the sand out amongst they… Of course there were big limestone pinnacles and they went in between them and knocked a few over and that's how they got down with their digging really.
One of his workers phoned him and told him the story, whether that worker had suggested that the following I don't know.
In those days the depot in Loftus Street, had a watchman, 24 hour watchman there and Dad went down there and met the worker. Apparently they decided on who they'd ring up, they'd contact which they did, got a group of blokes in there and then Dad authorised them to take the equipment down to Mandurah to be of some use perhaps in the rescuing of this young child.
I was with Dr Webster and Dudley Tuckey down at the Santoy Ballroom getting the hall for that night's entertainment which was a Junior Debutantes Ball.
With torchlights you could see the top of the child's head down the hole, he had both of his arms up above his head – he had gone down feet first with his hands above his head.
We thought that straight away we could get him out by lassoing his arms and pulling them up, pulling him out but he was packed in too tight and Dr Webster thought that we would do too much damage to his arms.
Dr Webster immediately before anyone could take any action said “ Get a couple of you and go out and get all the vacuum cleaners you can”.
All he used the vacuum cleaners for was to get the pipes down as close to the child's head as he could and suck the air out from there and the oxygen of course come down, down the funnel.
Well everyone done a good job, I don't think the Collie miners done any better than a lot of our townspeople.
The chappie who actually pulled him out had a bit of trouble coming backwards through the hole and they had to sort of widen the hole to get him out again but it was very, very good.
Well I was at the pictures that night; it came up on the screen that volunteers were needed. A little boy had fallen down a bore hole, I left the pictures straight away I think, I don't know how I got up there, I think I ran up there. I ended up digging and helping until they rescued him.
The unfortunate part about it was, that it had to be dug by hand, you couldn't blast, you couldn't get rid of any rock or anything like because you would have killed the little bloke………… it all had to be done by hand, and it was a long slow job, but it turned out successful, that was the main thing.
...they'd yell out to us who were digging , “We heard him cry, he's still alright”, then he'd go to sleep, then more anxious waiting to find out whether he'd move, or whether he'd cry again.
There wasn't an open well it was just a very small opening, and of course they went in from the side, they were too scared to go down because… he would have been covered.
…it was one of the greatest events I think I've experienced for some time or throughout my life.
…hell it was heavy going.
Our phone we had on at the little shop on the corner of Anstruther Rd, and Fremantle Road. Ours was the nearest phone for a long time, for a fair way away.
Mother and Dorothy they were busy making sandwiches and cups of tea and all that sort of thing, and we were running them backwards and forwards ……….. Supplying the people up there with refreshments to keep them going.
Frank Lanyon with his hamburger bar and that sort of thing, they were supplying.
There was all the local lads were there from memory, you know, the likes of the Postens, big Billy Hough.
We were at the ball, and I think the debs had gone through, they had been presented.
I remember my Dad just taking off as though it was one of us down there. He fought really hard to save that little boy.
And I know Mum, my mum is of that attitude, “oh, I've got to get home and make the sandwiches, get some tea, get some help”
I just remember my father being away for a long time. I think it took, it was about 23 hours or something, that he was trapped, and this rescue was going on all that time so being a photographer he would never have left the site, until the little boy was rescued.
My father won the Walkley Award for the best news picture in Australia. It was presented to him in Melbourne.
Oh it was busy, it was driving us mad to be quite honest. As a matter of fact, I think Mother turned around and told the Eastern States ones, don't bother to ring we can't tell you anything. We were so busy ourselves trying to prepare foodstuffs and all that sort of thing.
Newspaper reporters from Perth who took our ladder out of the hole and stuck it up a tree so they so they could climb up and down to take photographs from the tree. So we put the ladder back in the ground……. I don't know how they got down out of the tree, but they did get out later on …
Well I was at the theatre.
At the pictures the open air pictures and it flashed across the screen that any available man was required to assist at this recovery so of course we just left and went home to see what was going on but already Doug and Neil had taken off to take their front end loader down to, because they were digging, they couldn't get the child out from the top of the bore. So they had to come in underneath him and of course it was a great cavity eventually dug out and of course they had to do that all by hand course they could take machinery in there and as the overburden was thrown out so chaps would take it out with the front end loader and dump it further away. So they could have easy access an easy access to their burden.
Yes, he was a very lucky boy.
And we all took… went there with coffee, sandwiches and just stood back and watched.
We just all just stood back and… I think it was raining, it was a miserable night.
Doreen France, nee Williams
My husband rushed in and told me. We did know who the child was and said everyone is going to help, I'll go and get one of the loaders, see what we can do . And off he went and that's all I knew till he came back next day.
What they were doing in that first afternoon was sinking the well pipes down until they struck rock.
I tried to but I found I couldn't get there. I didn't know which road to take. There would have been some roads made up there but not the one I took up to where Allnutt Street to where the bowling club was built afterwards. That was just a ploughed field and the episode with the borehole and all the people were over the far side of what is, but not then, the bowling club ground.