Darwent’s Waterhole Reserve

Clearing in the scrub

A clearing and camp site in the scrub

Darwent’s Waterhole Reserve is about three kilometres south of Willalooka on the western side of the Riddoch Highway. The early history of Willalooka is recorded in the book ‘Wedgeholes to Windmills’, but unfortunately I have mislaid my copy.


The Wedgehole

The Wedgehole

It is just a small area of scrub that contains a wedgehole that was dug in the early days of settlement for watering stock. A wedgehole is simply a wedge shaped hole dug down deep and long enough to collect water from the under ground water table.


Hitching rail site

Site of a hitching rail for horses

Nearby to the wedgehole are these two posts which have brackets on them for the hitching rail for tying up horses while the stock (probably sheep) were drinking. With dryer seasons in recent decades very little water is now visible in the wedghole, but I have seen enough moisture in the bottom for bees to get a drink.


Lady Finger Orchid

Lady Finger Orchid, rarely found this dark a colour.

This small area of scrub contains some very special plants, among them is the Lady Finger Orchid. The flower is usually white and occasionally pink, but rarely as dark a pink as this one that I found in this reserve in October 2017. This orchid can also be found at Mt Monster Conservation Park closer to Keith, South Australia, and probably in other natural areas in the region.


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Mannum Dock Museum

PS Marion

PS Marion ready to take on passengers

I have visited the Mannum Dock Museum of River history on several occasions now, most recently on a day trip to the All Steamed Up Festival on November 19th 2016. This festival had a good mix of old steam engines, early model petrol and diesel engines on display in Arnold Park between the museum and the ferry ramps, and early model cars and power boats on display at the Mary Ann Reserve. The PS Marion and PS Oscar W were doing alternate trips between these two  sites. Myself and a friend who was with me for the day did a paddle steamer trip on the PS Marion from Arnold Park to the Mary Ann Reserve.


PS Captain Proud

PS Captain Proud at dock at Murray Bridge, South Australia

My previous trip to that included the short trip on the PS Captain Proud  based at Murray Bridge, and then spending a good part of the afternoon in Mannum. For anyone interested in the early river trade and paddle steamers on the Murray River I can highly recommend a visit to this museum at Mannum in South Australia. I have a keen interest in the old paddle steamers… my great, great step uncle was Captain William Richard Randell who launched the first paddle steamer on the River Murray in February 1853. His steamer, PS Mary Ann, was launched at Noa No, a few kilometres upstream from Mannum.


The original boiler from PS Mary Ann is on display in the museum and a replica of it is also in the Mary Ann Reserve on the river bank alongside the main town wharf.


Randell Dry Dock

Randell Dry Dock

The Dry Dock in the museum, was originally built at Milang and when bought by the Randell’s, was moved to it’s present location at Mannum. Much more information about the Randell Dry Dock is available in a separate webpage. A fund raising project has been set up to put a roof over the dock to help preserve the Red Gum timbers.


Randell's Beam Engine

Randell’s Beam Engine

Also in the museum is the Beam Engine used by Captain Randell to pump the water out of the Dry Dock once the vessel had been stabilised in it. This enabled work to be done on the vessel. During my most recent visit to the museum I was able to see this engine running.


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Bailey’s Rocks, Dergholm State Park, Victoria

Sign at the top end of Sharams Road

Sign at the top end of Sharams Road

I visited the area with my grandson on the Monday holiday June 2014. We went for a wander through Bailey’s Rocks with our camera’s. I took 62 photos for the afternoon. Here are just a few of them. Being a public holiday there were several other car loads of visitors as well. One group asked me to take a group photo for them.


Photo 01 of Bailey's Rocks

Photo 01 of Bailey’s Rocks

Bailey’s Rocks is situated within the Dergholm State Park, some 40 kilometres north west of Casterton, off the Naracoorte-Casterton road, and 60 kilometres from Naracoorte. The locals call this road the Langkoop Road, Langkoop being the other main district along the road with it’s own little hall.


Photo 02 at Bailey's Rocks

Photo 02 at Bailey’s Rocks

Dergholm State Park covers some 10,400 hectares and is mainly made up of red gums and brown stringy bark. Car parking is within the area with BBQs and tables and other facilities and a large area suitable for camping. Dogs are permitted in this area on leads but not in the rest of the park.


There is a 300 or so metre walking track amongst the granite boulders themselves and a 5 kilometre walk along Rocky Creek that runs through the park.


Photo 03 at Bailey's Rocks

Photo 03 at Bailey’s Rocks

We came across this pretty fungi amongst the tree litter.


Ants nest

Ants nest

Later, as we walked away from the main granite outcrop area, we came across a number of well defined ants nests like this one.


Wild flowers in Dergholm State Park

Wild flowers in Dergholm State Park

When it was time to leave we traveled up Sharam’s Road, a well made track up through the park. Here’s a photo of some of the wildflowers along the way.



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.