Four miners have received bravery awards for their actions during the Nymboida coal mine explosion in 1976.
The group, which includes brothers Neil and Trevor McLennan, Ian Carter, and Jack Tapp (deceased) were awarded the Governor General’s ‘Group Bravery Citation’ for risking their lives to rescue fellow miners during the disaster.
According to the Governor General’s citation, on 12 January 1976 an explosion occurred at the Nymboida Colliery, west of Grafton.
It happened approximately 370 metres along the tunnel after gas and coal dust ignited as workers were preparing to blast the coalface.
Four very badly injured miners managed to escape to the entrance.
However, one miner had not escaped, and with a rescue team still hours away a group of miners re-entered the mine to rescue the man, and also managed to recover the body of a young man from the coalface.
Two more miners entered to help carry the body outside.
For their actions, they received the award.
CFMEU general secretary Andrew Vickers described the action by the four miners as "the bravest thing I have ever seen.
"Going into a burning coal mine just after an underground explosion in an attempt to rescue their mates is an act of outstanding courage," he said.
"Even though 36 years have passed, their bravery on that day has stood the test of time and they thoroughly deserve this bravery award.
The act itself was featured in the documentary Last Stand at Nymboida, which has won 15 international film awards.
The coal mine has been closed for more than 32 years.