Installed in 1945, the winding engine holds two steel winding ropes which are used for raising and lowering the cages in the main shaft. It is also notable as the only complete working example of its type in Australia. The winding engine is operated by a person known as a “Winder Driver”.
As the winder is the only one of its kind, drivers are few and far between. We currently have two people on hand who fulfill the role. Becoming a Winder Driver is not something that you can learn from a text book or study online, it requires feel to operate ... about 200 hours worth of practice to get the feel and a good understanding of everything that is happening underground at any one time. Our two current drivers say that once you get a feel for and understand the winder it is almost like it talks to you. As people say about old steam trains, it’s like they are alive. Our winder is the same, some days it is happy and drives wonderfully, other days it just doesn’t want to play and it takes that extra bit of effort.
Not only do our Winder Drivers have to understand how to operate the winder, they also have to learn a new language, Bells. Bell signals are the main method of communicating with the Winder Driver what level of the mine you are on and to what level you would like to go. In order to make sure that the cages go to the right levels at the right time, our Winder Drivers need to know this language inside and out.
What's next? Ground Support!