140 years in Crows Nest and counting

20 July 2017

Joe and Denis’ Littleton are two Crows Nest boys with a passion for mining and while they know their way around a mining pit well, they know their home town better.

Descendants of John Thomas Littleton, who first established the Crows Nest town ship back in 1875, Joe and Denis grew up in a cattle farming family right near the heart of town.

"John Thomas Littleton and his family were the first settlers in the Crows Nest area and spent a whole six months on their own before any other settler families joined them," said Joe, who recently read up about his cattle farming ancestry.

"Growing up we would hear our Poppa talk about our family’s role in building Crows Nest so it was pretty interesting to sit down and trace it back through the history books."

After spending 13 years in the Army as an artilleryman with tours to Afghanistan and East Timor, Joe returned home to the Downs with his wife and their newborn daughter in 2009 and secured a role as an Operator at New Acland Mine.

"Having my brother Denis working at the mine already, I knew it was a good place to work and it meant I was able to live close to home and provide my new family with a stable income," Joe said.

"After our second child was born, my wife was able to look after our kids while studying at university and working casually in the Toowoomba area."

"I’m really proud of her for getting through her degree while juggling work and family, and I really appreciate the role my gig at New Acland played in enabling us to support our family in achieving this goal."

In a nod to their ancestry as Crows Nest cattle farmers, Joe’s brother Denis Littleton took over part of the family farm in 2009.

"In some ways it’s like I’ve come full circle because my Dad raised Joe and I on our Poppa’s farm and now I’m raising my girls in the same place with their grandfather too," Denis said.

"The farm holds a lot of memories for Joe and I, and so does Dad’s saddlery and mower shop in town that our Poppa started it back in the 1930’s."

Now an Open Cut Examiner at New Acland Mine, Denis ran his own business in Crows Nest operating small machinery before joining the mine in 2007.

"Ever since I was a little boy I’ve always been interested in machinery so I thought getting a job at the mine was a pretty great thing," Denis said.

"I’ve been there for almost 10 years now and over that time the mine has offered me the opportunity to study and further my skills and I’ve been able to really build a solid career there."

"Being an Open Cut Examiner is a statutory role and as well as acting as a supervisor, it’s largely based on making sure we’re operating in a safe and responsible way."

Both brothers have spent time in the mine’s highly trained Emergency Response Team, with Denis also spending time as an auxiliary member of the Crows Nest Fire Service.

"Being on the Emergency Response Team and also being Peer Support Officer means it can be pretty full on work sometimes but I really enjoy that side of my job," Joe said.

"I’m living in Toowoomba these days but I’m still a member of the Crows Nest RSL and I try to get out there as much as I can to see Dad and Denis and help out on the farm and in the shop," Joe said.

"When your family’s been in an area as long as we have, no matter where you go Crows Nest will always be home."

Denis (left) and Joe (right) with their father Howard Littleton out the
front of Littleton Leather in Crows Nest