In 1952 a third year student wrote an article on asbestos mining in the school’s Fiftieth Jubilee of Maclean Intermediate High School magazine – the ‘Trojan’, page 19. His name was Les Betterridge. I was at school with Les.
I don’t know Les’ connection with Yulgilbar but at age 15 or so it appears that he must have had some connection. He wrote, in part; “Asbestos is mined near Yulgilbar in the vicinity of the headwaters of the Clarence River. This particular mine is one of the largest in Australia…Three different types of dust are obtained when the rock is being crushed. One is worth £100 a ton, another £60 a ton and another about £20 a ton. These are sold to farmers for use as fertiliser.”
I am amazed that asbestos dust was sold as fertiliser and I didn’t know it was ever so. Does anyone remember this? Given the knowledge we now have of the health hazard of asbestos dust one must wonder where this ‘fertiliser’ was used and for what. A good case for an investigative reporter! There must be sales records or advertising of the period.