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On the 5th of February, 1990, Australia's last working pit ponies retired from service at Collinsville Coal's No.2 Mine. Much loved members of the mine workforce and the wider community, Wharrier and Mr Ed were more than working horses, they were mates to the miners and symbols of strength and unity to the small town. 25 years on, Wharrier and Mr Ed, along with the hundreds that descended the mines before them, continue to live on in the memories of the locals.

Collinsville, as with many other historic mining towns, has felt the effects of the rise and fall of coal prices since the retirement of the pit ponies, surging in and out of good times and bad. The recent push towards transient workforces in the mining industry has left the town a little quieter than before, with fewer locals left to uphold the proud community spirit. We believe a focus on our unique history can help forge a new identity for the town, establishing Collinsville as the Pit Pony Capital of Australia, and opening employment pathways into alternate industries. We'd like to rebuild our strong community spirit and remember the strength and unity of our past, inspired for so many years by our adored pit ponies.





The History of the Pit Pony

The partnership between miner and pit pony in Collinsville began with the commencement of coal mining in 1921. Horses were used below ground hauling coal to the surface, and in the long journey above ground to deliver the coal to port. Despite their name, the Collinsville pit ponies were typically Clydesdale horses, renowned for their strength, and able to work efficiently in the larger mine tunnels.

During their working life, the pit ponies formed strong bonds with their handlers and the other miners around them. Their even temperament made them suitable for the never-ending darkness and loud noises, while superior intelligence ensured they never endured a heavy load, and always found unguarded cribs to munch on.

By 1987 machinery underground had assumed many of the pit pony’s tasks and mine management in Collinsville were eager to retire the ponies. In order to protect their rights, the final two pit ponies were made honorary members of the union, and became subject to the law of seniority – the longest serving miner would be the last to leave the mine. In 1990, however, it became clear to miners and management that the era of the pit pony had passed and the final two ponies were retired, living out their final days on a nearby grazing property, in the care of previous handler Bill Hoffman.





Collinsville Today

In 2013, after struggling with dropping coal prices and the GFC, the Collinsville Coal Mine closed its doors and widespread unemployment overtook the small town. The mine closure affected everyone. Small businesses closed, housing prices dropped dramatically, and many local families were forced to move away, resulting in smaller schools and fewer opportunities for the remaining children. We have since realised that the future of Collinsville must be diverse, we cannot rely solely upon the coal mining industry to define our identity. Our rich, proud and unique heritage must hold the key to our success in the future.



The Pit Pony Experience

The Collinsville Pit Pony Experience will centre on the construction of one large pit pony in the centre of town. Molded from cast bronze, the pit pony will be a long-lasting, child-friendly monument displaying the strong community spirit in Collinsville. Behind the pit pony sculpture will stand a donators wall with the names of each donator on display. We want the project to be built by the community, for the community, and recognising every contribution, both local and abroad, will enhance this spirit of unity.

In addition to the pit pony sculpture and donators wall, three selfie walls will be constructed about the town. Located to encourage a tourist trail through the town, the walls will detail scenes of the pit ponies and miners at work and will be designed to allow tourists to take photos of themselves in-situ. The trail will finish at the No.1 State Tunnel model outside the Workers Club where visitors can learn about the Collinsville Mine Disaster, and proceed to visit the Coalface Experience. A smart phone app will be developed to guide visitors through the town, following the historic trail, and provide stories about the pit ponies and their place in the history of Collinsville. Several lines of merchandise will also be developed - stickers, belt buckles, a children's book about the pit ponies, and a resin model of our pit pony sculpture. These items are available as rewards in the various categories on the right. Finally, we will purchase a 3D printer to generate pit pony models for sale. Working in conjunction with the high school, the 3D printer will be available for use by students to develop CAD & 3D printing skills. 



Thank you for considering our project! We are excited at the prospect of establishing Collinsville as the Pit Pony Capital of Australia and giving our loved horses the recognition they deserve. The development of the Pit Pony Experience will cement Collinsville as an important tourist destination in North Queensland and help us forge a new industry for the town and future generations.

How The Funds Will Be Used

To build our bronze pit pony sculpture, the donators wall and merchandise on offer will cost $150,000 AUD. If we successfully raise more than our base target amount we will be able to complete our tourist route through Collinsville, including selfie walls and smart phone app.
The cost break down is as follows:
- 18 hand bronze pit pony sculpture: $93,000
- Donators wall: $14,000
- Reward Merchandise: $31,000
- R&D, Marketing, Digital Media: $6,000

Additional funds if raised:
- "Selfie" Walls: $12,440 each
- Smart phone app: $5000
- 3D Printer to manufacture pit pony models: $10,000

The Challenges

The remote location of the small town has often been discussed as a potential challenge for the construction of such an ambitious project. In addition to location, the ageing population and struggling small business sector may impact our donations. We are very positive about our potential to overcome these challenges. Our sculptors Gillie & Marc have generously donated their time and labour to our project to reduce the substantial costs of the Pit Pony sculpture. Our local council has committed to fully support the project with town planning and design advice. Local building companies have also indicated their enthusiasm about the project, and we have received very generous quotes from all parties involved. To inform and encourage the local community, we will hold an information evening about the project and how donations to the project work.
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on 5th Apr 2015 at 1:00am. The payment portal is closed now.
A$50 +Name on Donators WallThanks! We'll acknowledge your donation by printing your name on the donators wall that will be constructed behind the Pit Pony. You'll also be added to our virtual donator's wall on our website and smart phone app.
216 Chosen | Unlimited AvailableEst. delivery is October 2015
A$100 +Limited Edition Sticker- Name on donators wall behind Pit Pony & website - Limited edition 25 year anniversary Pit Pony sticker, high quality UV coated sticker suitable for all uses
146 Chosen | Unlimited AvailableEst. delivery is October 2015
A$250 +Pewter Belt Buckle- Name on donators wall - Limited edition 25 year anniversary sticker - 3D pewter belt buckle featuring Australia's last working Pit Ponies
57 Chosen | Unlimited AvailableEst. delivery is October 2015
A$500 +Helen & the Pit Ponies- Name on donators wall - Limited edition 25 year anniversary sticker - 3D pewter belt buckle - Children's book: Helen and the Pit Ponies
31 Chosen | Unlimited AvailableEst. delivery is October 2015
A$1000 +Model Pit Pony- Up to 4 names on donators wall - Limited edition sticker - Pewter belt buckle - Book - Miniature resin Pit Pony model
19 Chosen | Unlimited AvailableEst. delivery is October 2015
A$5000 +Corporate DonationsCorporate logo printed on our donators wall and resin Pit Pony model on stand with engraved recognition of your generous contribution.
9 Chosen | Unlimited AvailableEst. delivery is October 2015