GOVERNMENT TASKS AND WELLS ON THE
ROADS FROM BOURKE TO THE WARREGO, AND THE CULGOA TO THE WARREGO.
(Communicated to the Dubbo Despatch, July 24.)
The occupation of the country far west from the Dar- ling, on the Warrego, Paroo, and towards Cooper's Creek, drew the attention of the Government to the necessity for making water along the leading lines of traffic from the settled districts thereto : viz , the road from Bourke to Yarranungany on the Warrego, and from the Culgoa River at Gooriwarra to Eringunia on the Warrego. Mr. Surveyor R. J. Campbell was despatched in 1865 to make an examination of the country lying along these roads, and to report upon the best means of securing water ; a vote of £1500 having been placed upon the estimates for this latter purpose. Owing to the extreme drought whioh prevailed during 1865, Mr. Campball was unable to make so thorough an examination of the locality as was de- sirable for the object he had in view; but sufficient was done to convince the surveyor how great a necessity existed for securing water for the fast increasing traffic between the Darling and the Warrego, across a country almost wholly destitute of that element. In 1866, a complete examination of the country was made, and sites for tanks and wells fixed upon, on two roads alluded to.
Previous to 1866, several wells had been sunk by the holders of runs upon the Warrego, and in two places (at Ledknappa and Nelly's Camp) by public subscription ; but in every case the flow of salt-water prevented the com- pletion of these works, either from the imperfect con- struction of the wells, or from the absence of fresh water with which to form puddling to resist the encroachment of the salt. In general, the presence of the salt water was discovered at from twenty to thirty feet deep in sand drift, the flow being more or less strong, in some cases at the rate of ten buckets per hour. All these wells had, therefore, to be abandoned. In the case of two wells sunk by Mr. Shearer, innkeeper, at Eringunia on the Warrego,
the existence of the salt-water was discovered in a most singular manner. A first well was sunk by Mr. Shearer in the bed of the river, and excellent fresh water obtained at a depth of 16 feet, evidently surface water percolating through the drift; the well was continued to a depth of nineteen feet, when it contained about thirty inches of water at a very slight flow. This, however, was considered sufficient for house purposes by Mr. Shearer, there being still sufficient water for his stock in one of the waterholes of the river. The continuance of the drought, however, necessitated the using of the well water at a greater rate than the supply, and Mr. Shearer decided on sinking the well deeper. He had sunk hardly another foot, when the salt water burst in and the well bad to be abandoned. In the second case, a similar well was sunk in the bed of the river to eighteen feet, with a moderate supply of fresh water ; but in dipping this water, the bottom of the well was worn about six inches by the bucket, and the salt water entered. Mr. Shearer eventu- ally obtained fresh water in a third well, the bottom of which he puddled and slabbed.
An examination of these wells, and the nature of the country between the Darling and the Warrego, led Mr. Campbell to abandon the intention of sinking for water, except in such places where there was a certainty of ob- taining it at a moderate depth. He therefore recom- mended that tanks capable of oontaining about 12,000 gallons should be constructed at suitable places ; and this recommendation is now being carried out.
The first tank is situated at a plaoe called "The Lake" on the road from Bourke to the Warrego, about twenty miles from the new township of West Bourke. "The Lake" has nothing about it in dry seasons to represent the title given to it, being simply a dry bason, about two miles long by one in width. It is no doubt occasionally a sheet of water, formed from the overflow of the Darling River during excessive floods ; but the nature of the soil forming its bed, does not admit of any long reten- tion of the water thus collected. On the
western side it is bounded by a low red sand ridge oovered with mulga kidjar or gidrs, and stunted
box timber, forming the commencement of the undula- ting country between the Darling and the Warrego. The tank at "The Lake" is now oompleted, and a very fine piece of work it is too, alike a credit to the Government and the contractor. The tender for its construction by Berry and Co, was accepted by the Government in December last year, and operations commenced immedi- ately afterwards. This tank is constructed at a cost of about £600. It ¡s 100 feet long by 20 feet wide, and fifteen feet deep. The sides and bottom are
puddled eighteen inches thick, and slabbed with
inch stuff. The top is covered in with a slab
roof supported and stayed in a permanent man-
ner from the bottom and side. A windless is erected over an aperture in the roof, supplied with rope and bucket, and fifty feet of troughing is placed along- side the windlass to assist travellers in watering their teams. Drains are cut in proper directions, leading the water into the tank by means of wooden spouts projecting
over the sides.
A second tank is in course of construction at Led- knappa, on the road from the Culgoa River to Eringunia, about twenty-five miles from Colless's Culgoa Inn, at Goormarra. This tank will be a similar one in every respect to that at the " Lake," and will probably be oom- pleted in about fire months by the same contractors,
Perry, and Co.
Ledknappa is a pretty little spot, bounded on the south and east by low sand ridges of pine and box. Water is obtainable during the greater part of the year in small gilgais, filled after heavy rains, and apparently originally formed from the overflow of the Warrego at Belalie, about forty miles distant. Messrs. Rutherford, Colless, and some other residents upon these rivers, went to the ex- pense of sinking a well at Ledknappa for the public con- venience but the salt water was tapped just as the fresh
water in the gilgais was drying up, and after sinking
about forty feet, the well was abandoned. Mr. Colless, however, afterwards constructed a tank (10 by 10) which held the water in excellent condition during the late dry
About twenty miles from the "Lake," the road passes the Cooriallie Mud Springs, at which place a public well is being sunk by the Government. These mud springs are a peculiar feature in the geology of this part of the country. To the eye they present the appearance of huge mounds apparently the work of men's hands; but closer examination reveals the fact that they are formed by nature in one of her seemingly eccentric moods. There are about fourteen of these mounds in an area of about thirty acres. They are of various sizes, the largest being about ten feet high, with a diameter at base at about 20 feet. Most of them are quite sound and dry, having in the centre of the top a crater-like hollow, from which at
one time the water from some distance below the surface
issued, throwing up by its force a formation of blue mud and conglomerate of sand and quartz ; the weight of which eventually appears to have overcome the spring, causing it to subside, or burst out in another place. Three or four of these mounds, however, contain water, and one of them having been tapped at the base, is now a permanent spring. It is the intention of the Government to sink a well in the immediate vicinity of two of these mounds, which, from their loose formation and the presence of water bubbling from their craters, indicate the existence of a large body of that element within them. This well, it is supposed, needs only, to be sunk from ten to fifteen feet deep, to secure a permanent supply, without materially disturbing the na- tural spring. The well will be supplied with windlass and fifty feet troughing, and will be slabbed and covered in. A similar well to this will also be sunk on the other road from Culgoa to the Warrego, near Nelly's Camp, about eighteen miles from Ledknappa, where are two mud springs, from which it is hoped a permanent supply
of water can be obtained.
About five miles beyond the Cooriallie Springs, and about three from Yarranungany, on the Warrego, is perhaps the prettiest spot in this thirsty country. Bounded on three sides by low sandridges of quartzoze and conglomerate, covered with thick mulga scrub, lies small green valley - a perfect "oasis in the desert" -in the centre of which runs the Kullyna Spring. After travelling the fifty miles from Bourke during the heat of a dry summer, unable to quench the thirst or wash the dust down, save from a stagnant gilguy or claypan, the sight of the Kullyna Spring is something extremely re- freshing, and a draught of its cool running waters a luxurious treat, after sucking the white mud of the clay- pan hollow. At Kullyna, the Australian Pastoral In- vestment Company, through their manager, selected, under the conditions of the mining clause of the Crown Lands Alienation Act, ICO acres to include the spring, and at some considerable cost fenced in the spring, im- proved it, and constructed tanks for conserving the water. What the exact mineral operations were to be does not appear to have been decided. The Government very judiciously refused to give the company sole control of a
natural spring in a country so destitute of water as this ; and it was therefore excluded from the land selected, and is now reserved for public access.
Large reserves have been made at the lake. Ledknap- per, Cooriallie, and Nelly's Camp, the site for the tanks and, wells, and also at Kullyna and Yarranungany, for
public convenience ; and at Eringunia a township will be laid out, being the nearest suitable position to the Queensland border, about thirty miles distant.
The tanks will be placed under the charge of the bench of magistrates, Bourke ; and it is likely that a lease of some small portion of one of the reserves will be granted to some persons willing to overlook them, with permis- sion to erect and keep a house of public accommodation
TOWNS POLICE ACT. - At the West Maitland police court, yesterday, James Fogarty pleaded guilty to an information charging him that, on the 21st instant, in High street, he was at such a distance from his dray and horse as that he had no control over the latter. The bench imposed a fine of 2s. 6d., and 3s. 6. costs.