ON the Friday before Christmas, December 20, 1968, the coal mines finally closed down in Wonthaggi and although there were only about 100 people employed there at the time, many thought the town would die with the mines.
It almost did but 50 years on, it’s a thriving and diversified metropolis, benefitting from tourism, business, commercial, retail and residential growth.
But last Saturday, the 50-year anniversary of the closure of the mines wasn’t about to be allowed to pass without acknowledgement and the centrepiece of a gala event to mark occasion at the State Coal Mine was the arrival of eight former miners who told part of their story of the time.
One of them was Lou Storti who started work in the mines at age 18, not long after arriving from the Veneto region in northern Italy.
“In the beginning I hated it especially when you had a small seam of coal to work. But I’d just come over on the boat and I needed the job for some money. I thought I’d just save up enough to catch the next boat home again,” said Lou.
But love intervened.
“I was going to go back but I met Ida.”
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