Varischetti Mine RescuePrint Page Print this page


Photographs supplied by Chris Abbott

The plaque commemorates the rescue of Modesto Varischetti who was trapped underground at Bonnievale mine for nine days in 1907.

Varischetti was trapped underground with no hope of rescue. A chance remark by the mine manager`s son to use a diver triggered a dramatic rescue which involved two divers, Hughes and Kearn, and Herbert Hoover a mine enginer later to become President of the United States. The nearest air hose long enough to reach Varischetti was in Fremantle, 560 kilometres away. The West Australian government ordered a special train, the "Rescue Special", which cut nearly two hours off the 12-hour run to Coolgardie, setting a world record for the distance. At Coolgardie, fast horses rushed the equipment to Bonnievale.

Hughes made his first exploratory dive on the fourth day of Varischetti`s ordeal. He and Hearn made three separate descents on day five, and on day six, when they first reached the trapped man, Hughes took a powerful electric lamp, food, candles and sealed letters of encouragement from Giovanni Varischetti, Modesto`s brother, who was on the surface. The pumping was working, but the rescue plan became more desperate as Hughes told Crabb on day eight that Varischetti would not survive much longer. On day nine, the divers gave the miner more food, shared cigarettes with him, tied a rope around his waist and started the arduous walk through waist-deep water and knee-deep sludge. At one stage, Varischetti`s mouth and nose only just cleared the water. He staggered to the surface on March 28, 1907 after 206 hours underground. He recovered to return to work underground but died of fibrosis at 57.

There is also a story of the rescue at the Coolgardie railway station and a Varischetti Museum exhibit in Tommy Talbot Park.


Address:Bonnievale Mine Site, 10 kilometres north Coolgardie, Bonnievale, 6430
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -30.862558
Long: 121.158403
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Plaque
Monument Theme:Disaster
Actual Event Start Date:19-March-1907
Actual Event End Date:28-March-1907


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Sunday 25th March, 2007
Front Inscription

The Varischetti Rescue

The President Councilors and electors of the Shire of Coolgardie have erected this plaque to commemorate the rescue of Modesto Varischetti who was trapped 1000ft underground below 100ft of water at this site 100 years ago on the 19th March 1907, and was brought to the surface 9 days later, on the 28th March 1907.

Tribute is paid to the herosim and bravery of all the men who played their respective parts in this rescue.  A special mention is made to the innovative and forward thinking of Inspector Crabb to bring a team of divers into the arid environemnt of Coolgardie to dive into a tangle of fallen timbers and rock, mixed with turbid water of a recently flooded mine.

We also pay tribute to those divers Hughes and Hearn that went fearlessly into the unknown, with only their skill and bravery to support them.

Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au