The History of The Big Rig
The Big Rig in Roma, Queensland, serves as a reminder of the rich history of Australia’s oil and gas industry. The 30-metre derrick structure is located at a regional information centre, which preserves monumental objects, photographs, multimedia, and other exhibits that tell the story of Roma’s oil and gas exploration.
One story suggests that the discovery of gas in Roma occurred during the 1900 drought, which had caused water scarcity in the region. A 411-metre-deep borehole was dug in search of water to serve the town’s reservoirs that were already drying out.
But instead, the water gushed out of the borehole containing a mixture of natural gases. This discovery was the beginning of oil and gas exploration in Roma.
In 1906, a gas plant in Roma began processing the gas for lighting and cooking. As a result, street lamps, hotels, and shops in the town were lit so bright that they attracted the attention of sightseers from all over the country.
However, the captivating spectacle was short-lived due to a sudden halt in the gas flow ten days into the project. It wasn’t clear whether the gas had run out or if there was leakage or blockage. Unfortunately, the gas experts working at the site didn’t seem to have a solution to the problem.
That, however, did not stop further oil and gas explorations in the area.
In 1908, a new local gas exploration company hit a gas-filled core while drilling a borehole. Moments later, strong winds blew the gas towards a nearby boiler, causing a massive explosion and fire that lasted 45 days. The inferno consumed all drilling equipment, including the derrick.
Many years later, the Big Rig stands as a commemoration of the disastrous commencement of the oil exploration journey in Roma. The town is also home to the Big Bolt and Nut, a roadside attraction found along Raglan Street.