Archives for August 2013

Developing our Irrigation Bore

Soon after I left school and started working on the farm at home Dad decided to establish some irrigation on the property we had at Keith.  It’s not always as simple as just putting down a bore hole and having the water at hand.  Here’s our story.


Drilling in progress by B B Buckley

Drilling in progress by B B Buckley (scanned from a slide)

The bore was drilled by B B Buckley.  He had poor eye-sight but when mud splashed on his glasses he simply wiped across the lens with his finger like it was a windscreen wiper!  How he was able to continue without doing more than that I’m not sure, but he got the job done.


Drilling taking place by B B Buckley

Drilling taking place by B B Buckley (scanned from a slide)

The site had been divined by our neighbour, but wasn’t really that far from the original bore put down by the AMP Society as the ‘house’ bore during land clearing in the early 1950’s.  During the AMP Society’s Land Development Scheme in the late 1940’s and 1950’s, sufficient stock bores and a ‘house bore’ were put in on what would become each property.  The stock bores in the area where we lived at the time were around 45 to 50 feet deep giving sufficient quality and quantity of water for stock.  The ‘house bore’, placed close to where the likely house site would be, was deeper, around 60 odd feet deep.  This gave a better quality and better quantity of water for the house site.


Drilling complete.  Early stages of development

Drilling complete. Early stages of development (scanned from a slide)

Initially the volume of water from our irrigation bore was not great.  We could barely keep this 4″ x 3″ irrigation pump primed, but as we developed the bore the volume gradually increased.  It took several days to build the volume up to even having 1,000 gallons an hour, pumping sandy water for 3 or 4 hours each morning.  The water was in a sand bearing layer and we had to pump enough sand out with the water to give a clear cavity underneath for the water to come into so that we could then pump the volume we needed.


Development well on the way

Development well on the way (scanned from a slide)

Over several weeks of almost daily pumping we eventually developed the bore to the point where we could maintain around 12,000 gallons an hour without pumping much sand.  Once this was achieved we set about putting in a ‘Nash’ irrigation system.


The 'Nash' irrigator in action.

The ‘Nash’ irrigator in action (scanned from a slide)

This was the first type of ‘pivot’ irrigation in the area, and was designed by Mr Ted Nash of Keith.  His ‘pivot irrigator’ had a 6 foot steel wheel about three quarters the way along from the centre point.  The water going through the last three sprinklers went through a centrifugal pump backwards.  The power from this was used to drive a pump-jack with off centre arms that then pushed the wheel along.  On later models a water powered hydraulic cylinder was used.


Each circle covered 5.5 acres.  The whole unit took the best part of two days to complete a circle.  The large steel wheel was then raised and the unit towed to the next centre point.  With seven pivot centres to move to we finished up with 40 acres of irrigation.



Square bales to round rolls

The Econ Fodder Roller, scanned from a slide

The Econ Fodder Roller, scanned from a slide

Early round rolls were done initially with an Econ Fodder Roller.  It simply rolled the windrow on the ground.  It required the windrow to be created fairly neatly and the paddock to be reasonably clean of stumps and stones.  As the hay chamber filled it put more and more tension on the main chains until the rear gate was released and the roll came out the back.  The rear gate then slammed shut again and was hooked in ready for the next roll.  The whole process was only successful by matching the ground speed with the correct chain speed.


The Econ Fodder Roller

Econ Fodder Roller at work, scanned from a slide

The biggest wear components were the main chains and the guide belts on the side.  The whole machine only required low horsepower, in fact the angle drive driven by the PTO shaft was a Holden differential which drove a bike chain to the main operating shaft.  It was the sprockets at either side of this bike chain that were changed in size to give the correct main chain speed to match the required gear on the tractor for the right ground speed.


Each roll was about the equivalent of three or four of the small square bales, depending on the type of hay.  They were carted two at a time using a ‘Buck Rake’ mounted on the Three Point Linkage on the tractor.  We did the bulk of our hay this way from the late 1960’s through to the early 1980’s when we sold the Keith property.  We also did contract hay making with it for several weeks each season during the 1970’s.


The machine seen in these photos was only the second unit sold in the Keith, SA district.  Elders GM were the agents for them at the time.


Home made hay feed out trailer

Home made hay feed-out trailer, scanned from a slide

Dad also made this feed-out trailer to carry ten rolls at a time.  A few lengths of galvanised water pipe, a little bit of angle iron, and an axle / wheel assembly from a Horward Bagshaw fertiliser spreader and we were done.





Mt Monster Conservation Park


Mt Monster Conservation Park car park and picnic area

Map of Mt Monster Conservation Park

Map of Mt Monster Conservation Park

Coming home from Nairne the other day I decided to take a detour via the Mt Monster Conservation Park.  Mt Monster is just a couple of kilometres off the Riddoch Highway about 12 kilometres south of Keith, totalling some 93 hectares of land donated by a couple of pioneering families who lived in the area.  I grew up on a property another 5 or so kilometres south of here on our family farm.  Consequently, we had travelled close to the park many, many times but had only climbed it a couple of times that I can remember.




The colour of the granite in Mt Monster Conservation Park

The park area contains a number of granite outcrops, the main one being the main point of interest.  The summit is just 93 metres above sea level and is referred to as ‘The Trig Point’ as it contains a trig stand and is the highest point for quite some distance around.  From the summit it is possible to get a 360 degree view of the farming land around the park.



One of the distant views, this one overlooks the property I grew up on

One of the distant views, this one overlooks the property I grew up on

Directly to the south, if you know just where to look, the property that I grew up on and later worked on for 14 years can be seen off in the distance.



The climb to the Trig Point

The climb to the Trig Point

The drive in to the picnic area is a one-way track with the entrance part way across the northern boundary.  The Trig Point is a short 10 to 15 minute walk from the picnic area, up through the scrub.  A little way up this track is the starting point for the ‘Gwen Ellis Walking Trail‘.



Parting of the ways to the trails

Parting of the ways to the trails

This trail circles around the summit, through the surrounding scrub land and taking in several other key points within the park.  The walk takes 30 to 40 minutes, unless you are like me and take the time for plenty of photographs!



The monument on Joyce's Plateau

The monument on Joyce’s Plateau

Taking this trail in an anti-clockwise direction, the first feature you come to is Joyce’s Plateau, around sign post 2.  This little area is so named in honour of Joyce Buddle, a daughter of the pioneering family who donated 80 ha for the park.  Continuing on around the trail one comes across the various plant species that are growing in the area.



Some of the smaller plant species, including the Rock Fern bottom right

Some of the smaller plant species, including the Rock Fern bottom right

The next few sign posts indicate some of the numerous plant species found in the area, including pink and blue gums, various mallees, broombush, and smaller species such as Rock Fern, lichens and some native orchids.



Part of the Maroona South property in the distance

Part of the Maroona South property in the distance

At sign post 8 one can look out to the south west and see the “Maroona South” property, the property from which I believe the original 80 ha of the park came from.



Part of the southern rock face of Mt Monster

Part of the southern rock face of Mt Monster


More of the southern rock face of Mt Monster

The southern rock face of Mt Monster.





Gwen's Lookout

Gwen’s Lookout

Further around at sign post 11 is Gwen’s Lookout.  This spot is named as a tribute to Gwen Ellis, a daughter of Malcolm and Mercy Crooks, pioneers of the area who started clearing land south of  here in 1909.



A view from Mina's Lookout.  To the left is the 'Landsdowne' property

A view from Mina’s Lookout. Further to the left is the ‘Landsdowne’ property

At sign post 12 is Mina’s Lookout and from here you can look out over the former “Landsdowne” property.  Here too, you come to the other 13 ha of the park donated by Ray and the late Mina Davis.  Continuing the trail full circle one comes through an area prolific with wattle (Acacia paradoxa) which has regenerated well after a fire that swept through Mt Monster in January of 1961.



Quarry site that was once Little Mt Monster

Quarry site that was once Little Mt Monster

Wall of granite after blasting

Wall of granite after blasting

The park also contains what used to be the Little Mount Monster.  This is situated closer to the northern boundary of the park but is almost non-existent these days because much of it has been blasted and crushed for road material.  This area can be seen by a short diversion off the main track as you exit the park near the north-west corner.


OK, so this blog post has taken quite some time to put together, but I trust that you find it interesting.