Hey Jumbulla (The Ghost of Mickey Brennan)
In 1902, a lively young man – known to his mates as Mickey Brennan – started work on the Mount Kembla Coal Mine high on the stunning New South Wales, South Coast Escarpment, known to the local indigenous Dharawal people as ‘Jumbulla’ – a good place for hunting wallaby.
After just one week on the job, Mickey – seeing the complete disregard for safety and care for it’s workers – told his boss he was ‘out of there’ – and as he entered the mine for what was to be his last day – a large pocket of unventilated coal seam gas hit an exposed candle flame causing a devastating explosion that claimed 96 souls – in what is still to this day – Australia’s worst mining disaster.
121 years on – we are still putting our hunger for coal, gas and ultimately ‘profit’ over the health and well-being of not just our miners and surrounding communities – but the entire planet.
Mickey Brennan’s body was the only one never recovered from the disaster but many witnesses claim his ghost still resides in the cellar of the local Mount Kembla Pub.
“There’s a lot we don’t know about the soul – sometimes it can’t move on until the truth’s been told!”
Hopefully this song ‘Hey Jumbulla (The Ghost of Mickey Brennan)’ allows Mickey to find some long overdue peace.
The song was written by Luke O’Shea & Zane Banks after a conversation they had late one night about Zane’s great-great grandfather & uncles – who were working inside the mine that day – & miraculously survived the explosion.
Zane explains, “My mother’s family lived on Mt Kembla for several generations dating back to the early Victorian period. My great-grandmother, Agnes Perry (1899-2007) acquired many fascinating tales about the area, it’s history and local characters over the course of her long life. She was the last living person who was on Mt Kembla when the coal mine exploded on 31/7/1902 and one of the stories she told me – which left an impression – was the tragedy of Micky Brennan and his ghost. It’s a take which has been worthy of a song for over a century but was meeting Luke in 2022 in which I found the person to sing such a tune.”
Happy Australia Day was written with Kevin Bennett (Kamilaroi) in the hope that every day Australians will at the very least, hear and learn the names of 9 iconic indigenous human beings.