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IRRIGATION IN VICTORIA.

Everybody has from time to time noticed occasional references m the press to the great work of irrigation which is being carried on by the Chaffey Bros. ; m the mallee country of Victoria — one of the hottest and driest places m Australia — but very few people indeed hare any idea of the nature of the operations or of the magnitude of the work. A mass of very interesting information upon this subject has just been contributed by " Telemachus " to the columns of the "Argus," upon which we propose to draw m order to place before our readers some idea of what a really wonderful work is now m progress. Telemachus has visited the Mildura Estate, upon which the operations of the Chaffey Bros, are now being carried on, and ho tells us that it consisted a year ago of two hundred and fifty thousand acres of mallee, saltbush, and ordinary scrub land, fit to carry •bout one sheep to five acres— to fatten them m a good season and starve them m a drought. This is the picture of the country as it looked then :— " A mile of shadeless saltbush, cropped close ; a few clusters of sheep crouched down on their bellies on the groun^l, their heads laid right along, seeking the shade of any poor twigs. A mile or two of mallee, grasaless, but shaded from the sun ; sheep standing about here, hollowflanked and panting. A mile or two of open or lightly- timbered country ; hungry, parched 'looking men lopping down branches of cattle bush, sandalwood, and anything else that desperate hunger might render edible ; gaunt skeletons of cattle running to the sound

of the blows. A solitary eniu tamed by poverty, a kangaroo or wallaby hopping bat a few yards. The squatter m his garden, with the meagre patch of garden ground before him, and the full river chafing it% banks. He would walk down to the rain gauge and back to the whisky decanter ; would look up to the evening clouds, and marvel if it would ever rain again ; would saunter down to the shod, and ask the overseer how many he had got m; would look anxiously at the men coming m with the cart. Ihey had been cutting the throats of dying sheep and bringing m their skins. Would get back to the house again, and wonder whether the bank would wind him up, or whether there really was any efficacy m prayer for rain. Would go to bed and dream of flooded flats and drenched uplands, and awake m a nightmare born of indigestible mutton, and a notion that he himself was swimming desperately against the flood, but going hopelessly down the stream. 80 day after day, year after year, decade after decade. No plan for or hope of a change. The clouds dropped fatness one year, (he drought strangled all prosperity the next. The squatter was a shuttlecock on the battledore of fate, his stock counters m a game of chance." This is the picture of a year ago. Now let us look at the picture, limned by the graphic pencil of Telemachus, of things as they are to day : — ** We drive away from the old home station to the new township. We pass the workshop, where steam power is sending a blast into the anvil forges, driving a steam-hammer, steam-plane, drills, and saws, and where Mr P. McClaren, member of a well-known firm m LWO, bat now anginecr-'iii-chiot oix Mildara, directs all the labors, and plans fbr further developments. We drive up Deakin avenue, and see many bnildings already erected and m course of construction. There is the newspaper office, the new brick offices of the firm, the firet storey of a large brick store, which, when completed, would do no discredit to any provincial town of Victoria; a comfortable-looking boarding house, s bakery and confectionery store, a billiard room, a furniture warehouse ; a bank, (the Commercial, not yet pretentiously housed, to be joined by the National next week) a state school, the foundations of a church, and a dozen other buildings occupied by settlers and various members of the working staff of the estate. Ido not think any digging township ever made bo substantial a show m 12 months. All the chares have been subscribed m a coffee palace company, building to coßt £3000 ; a cold storage company has been formed, and next spring will be prepared to commence operations; foundations are being prepared for a suitable house for the resident proprietor, and prize designs are invited for an agricultural college. . . . . . And now let ns note a little matter which distinguishes the town from all others of like or of a ten times greater age. From the river end of the avenue, right up through the centre of the allotments, a distance of about two miles, a water main has been laid underground, and along this a stream is now forced which rises through an Bft stand-pipe on the crown of the hill, and throws out a glorious head of water, a fountain with a grander head than can be seen m any oity of Australia, playing m the midst of a belt of mallee country, which three months ago was dry as the bleached skeleton of a sheep. . . From this main, m Dea-kin-avenue, there will be pipes run along all the streets of the township, and brought, as m the city, to the frontage of each allotment, so that the householder will have but to provide his House-pipes, taps, and connections to secure a water service sufficient for all requirements." Then we are told of monster engines used as stampextractors, of steam ploughing 1 going on at the rate of ten acres per plough per day, and the rapid turning of a parched arid desolate region into a fruitful garden. And the great agent m all this is water, for the distribution of which over the whole estate what may fairly be described as great canals fed by centrifugal pumps have been constructed. The "main channel is fed from two pumps fixed on a billabong some two miles up from the township. There is completed of this channel, 50ft broad on top, and 7ft deep, something over 13 miles ; and of one still larger, 70ft on top, 6 miles ; 3 miles, also, of a smaller channel, 35ft on top ; and 15 miles of distributing channels, running around various blocks . The big channels follow the heights, so that the water may easily be led on the lower grounds, and they are filled by pumps fixed on the river or on billabongs fed from the river. The pumps now working are two 20in centri< fugal pumps throwing water into the 50ft channel, and there are two of c similar calibre on board the steamei Eliaa Jane, one 16in centrifugal at the workshops, and one 18in force pump foi the township supply." Besides all tbii there will next year "be erected suol machinery «l fefttf never y«t been §een fa

Australia, nor applied to works of irri gatioQ pure and simple m the world, 1 triple expansion engines working centri fugal pumps capable of lifting 80,00( gallons per minute a height of 85ft This will give a water supply o: 43,200,000 gallons per twenty-foui hours, equal to 2880 gallons per acre per day all the year round. Already, wo are, told 1500 acres have been cleared of every tree-stump and bush, and "twelve hundred of these 1500 acres of cleared land are cultivated, 210 are m fruit trees, 150 more m wheat, oats, and barley. Next year by this time there will be at least a thousand acres m fruit, and all the two hundred and ten acres now planted will be yielding a pleasant shade to the moist red ground. This is no matter of conjecture or of supposition, but of absolute certainty; the land is ploughed, the trees are planted, the machinery is working, and cultivating and planting, and erection of machinery are constantly m progress. The stretch of oountry even now looks like a block chopped out of the poor agricultural country about Ballarat. Red ploughed hills, rich black fiats, and occasional patches of green, where little paddocks of grain have got the water. The most sceptical oritio of irrigation has but to stand on that bill beside the channel and look across the cultivated area to be convinced that a great work is m progress, and if gifted with the slightest particle of imagination he can look forward three years and see " The wonder that shall be." Each of these avenues will bo lined with shade trees, as each of the paddocks will be filled with fruit. Moreton Bay figs, currajongs, pittosporum, and camphor laurel will be rustling on the breeze, and the fragrance will be wafted across from leagues of orange and lemon and citron, apricot, peach, cherry and vine, all m bloom." Other correspondents state that "to secure population the Messrs Chaffey have gone to Europe and have secured agriculturists skilled m the culture of the olive, vine, and other fruit | trees. The terms upon which they offer ; land to these people are most liberal, and cannot fail to attract a large number of persons to the colony. The depressed condition of the agricultural industry m England leads the firm to believe that a large number of settlers will be induced to come from the Mother Country to Mildara. Prominent Victorian officials who have visited the irrigation colony are delighted with the prospects of the settlement, and Lord fianfurly, who has acquired a large holding at Mildura, is so satisfied with them that he is off to America and Europe to select plants and procure skilled labor suited to the distriot. The Messrs Chaffey are carrying on what may be truly described as a marvellous work, and if only its financial results are as satisfactory as it is confidently hoped they will bo, the operations now going on at Mildura will be but the prelude to similar operations on a widely extended scale which must have the most important bearing upon the future of Australia, for we are told that there are millions of acres of similar country m Victoria, and tens of millions m South Australia and New South Wales. '

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http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AG18881215.2.23

Bibliographic details

IRRIGATION IN VICTORIA., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2014, 15 December 1888

Word Count
1,717

IRRIGATION IN VICTORIA. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2014, 15 December 1888

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