by Shannyn Hunter
Imagine coming home from doing the weekly shopping to find a deep chasm where the fish pond and shed used to be. This was the reality Ballarat East resident, Ivan Bolt, faced last Wednesday as reported in The Age ‘That Sinking Feeling as Backyard Vanishes’ (11/07/07).
The article by Orietta Guerrera quoted the bemused home owner, “There was a dark patch on my lawn which I thought was just a shadow, so I walked a bit closer and said, ‘Oh God’ … everything had collapsed down the hole”.
But that was not the end of it, the hole continued to swallow Mr Bolt’s lawn until the State Emergency Service intervened. All told, the hole grew to within a metre of the house and it took eight truckloads of concrete to sate its hunger for destruction.
Mr Bolt had gone about his daily business, for the past 43 years, unaware of the mine shaft below. It is believed to date back to the late 1800s. Apparently, it was not uncommon at the time for miners to cover up an old digging with some timber and soil before simply moving on.
To date no-one has claimed responsibility for the costs, and Mr Bolt is left with a large chunk of concrete collecting rainwater. That said, he is thankful since the abandoned mine was directly underneath the gazebo his family regularly used in the summertime.
The article quoted Ballarat City Council as saying that it is impossible to know how many abandoned goldmines are lurking in the area. Cr Stephen Jones said, “It’s a bit of a risk for everyone that lives in the old mining towns”.
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