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.



About David

David grew up on a farm in the South East of South Australia. After leaving school he worked on the farm for 14 years before managing another family property for 8 years. He then worked for the South Australian government inspecting Certified Seed Crops for 24 years. He is now a Carer for his wife and guardian for a grandson.

His late father had often had a camera not too far away, back when film cameras were all manual. David himself first used a box Brownie camera in his teens. In recent years David has used a compact digital camera and more recently a Digital SLR. A pick selection of his later photos can be found in website for purchase as post cards, greeting cards, canvas prints, framed photos, or as posters as large as A0, equivalent to 16 A4 pages laid out together! Use the link available in the "Outside Links" on the right.


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