'Water water everywhere': attempts at drought-proofing properties using surface water infrastructure in central western Queensland in the early 1880s

Godwin, Luke, and L'Oste-Brown, Scott (2012) 'Water water everywhere': attempts at drought-proofing properties using surface water infrastructure in central western Queensland in the early 1880s. Australian Archaeology , 74. pp. 55-70.

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Abstract

There is a long and continuing history in Australia of private enterprise and governments attempting to 'drought-proof' businesses and communities. In this paper we explore the strategies employed for this purpose in the late nineteenth century on the massive Wellshot Station, jewel in the crown of the Australian wool industry, in central western Queensland. We describe some of the technology used and its archaeological footprint. Questions reviewed include the purpose and operation of the water management facility, as well as when it was built and who constructed it. We consider the overall efficacy of this, and subsequent technologies, in sustaining the huge sheep flocks depastured on this property. We demonstrate that the highest rates of stocking on the property were achieved during the period when surface water, rather than groundwater, was harvested. We then turn our attention to the broader implications of this success, noting that the use of this technology on Wellshot, and throughout the region, resulted in massive profits being made by the pastoralists during the last few decades of the nineteenth century. These pastoralists deployed these financial resources for larger economic and industrial purposes, which in turn triggered unexpected responses that have had political ramifications through to the present day.

Item ID: 22001
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 0312-2417
Additional Information:

This article was originally published in Australian Archaeology. Please acknowledge the source correctly when citing.

Date Deposited: 25 Jun 2012 05:13
FoR Codes: 21 HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 2101 Archaeology > 210108 Historical Archaeology (incl Industrial Archaeology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9505 Understanding Past Societies > 950503 Understanding Australias Past @ 100%
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