Life in the Mines: Hard Work and Hearty Meals

Middle-aged man with a beard wearing a beanie and orange vest smiling on a city street.

“I tell ya, life down in the mines isn’t for the faint of heart, but it’s got its moments. Grew up in a small mining town in Australia, and honestly, it’s like I was destined to end up here. You spend your days surrounded by the earth, and it changes you, makes you appreciate the little things, you know? Like a good hearty meal after a long shift underground. My ma’s meat pies, now those are a taste of heaven after a day in the dirt. Food’s gotta be practical when you’re a miner. Breakfast is quick, usually just a slice of toast and some Vegemite, strong enough to wake you up better than coffee. Lunch is something you can eat with dirty hands, so it’s often sandwiches—beetroot, cheese, some slices of cold meat if we’re lucky. And dinner, that’s when I actually get to sit down and enjoy something hot. There’s this local pub that does the best lamb shank, falls right off the bone. Sundays, though, that’s when I cook up something special, maybe throw a shrimp or two on the barbie, weather permitting. The work? It’s tough, no doubt. We’ve had some scares down there—collapses, equipment failures. But it teaches you resilience, makes you a part of a brotherhood. Like Davey, been working with him for over a decade now. His humor, it’s what keeps us going through those long, dark hours. We look out for each other, share our water, our stories. And when we hit the surface, it’s like taking a breath for the first time every time. Makes you value life, makes you want to grab it by the reins. You learn a lot about yourself, too. Used to struggle with the isolation, being away from family. Missed my son’s first steps, that was tough. But you come to terms with things. You find your peace. And mine comes sitting on my porch, looking out at the quiet street, plate of food in my lap, knowing I’ve done a hard day’s work. Food tastes better then, has more meaning when you’ve earned it with your sweat. And if I had to choose just one dish, one local gem? It’d be the meat pie. Simple, filling, reminds me of home. Just like the life I’ve built here, it’s nothing fancy, but it’s mine, all mine.”

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