Author: Brad Pillans, Director, National Rock Garden

Extract from National Rock Garden Newsletter No. 20, November 2020

The story about Mintaro Shale in our last NRG newsletter (Newsletter No. 19, May 2020) prompted one of our ‘Friends of the NRG’, Ros Walcott, to forward the newsletter to a scientist friend of hers in the US, John Kearney, who was born in Orroroo, South Australia, in 1945.

It turns out that John’s grandfather, Daniel Kearney, worked in the Mintaro slate quarry probably in the 1900-1920s. John also says that he has been to the quarry, first when he was 9-10yrs old and then again in later life. His cousin Brendon, a previous director of the Royal Adelaide Hospital, who has visited John in Alabama every year since 1984, has an antique print of the quarry – see photo below. His observation is that the floor of the quarry is now much lower than in the print, so it was probably made in the early 1900’s.

Also, Brendon Kearney’s father, Bernie Kearney (who was the Director of Education in South Australia and the Northern Territory at one time), was the son of Daniel and donated an altar of Mintaro slate to the new Cathedral in Darwin when it was built in the 1960’s. The altar was in memory of Daniel Kearney.

Mintaro slate quarry, probably in the early 1900s. Image courtesy the Kearney family.