The gold mine at the bottom of a coal field

A family-owned tourist attraction in the Blue Mountains is answering the question of how to ease Australia's economy from a heavy mining focus to tourism.

Harry Hammon was filling his ute up with loose coal next to the disused mine below the Blue Mountains’ Katoomba when he came up with the idea to turn it into a tourist attraction. It was a pretty normal Tuesday in 1945 for him; he was collecting the coal for the power station that fuelled his transport business when three American soldiers drove up in a Jeep.

“Can we ride that big steep train back up to town?” they asked.

Harry told them it was only open to the public on weekends and they turned back, coal chips flying in their wake.


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