Tallangatta: The town that moved... water management... photographs held at The State Library of Victoria. This collection covers a range of water management projects and activities during the first half of the 20th century. ...
Every now and then, when the Hume Dam is at a low ebb, the ghostly remains of old Tallangatta, in northern Victoria, can be seen above the water. Now located 39 kilometres east of Wodonga, Tallangatta is known as 'the town that moved'.
In 1956, 2 hotels, 4 petrol stations, numerous shops and businesses, 4 churches, more than 900 residents and all the usual public amenities of a country town were relocated 8 kilometres west of the old site. The original location was then flooded under 6 feet of water after the Hume Dam was expanded.
During 1954 the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission took more than 180 photos in and around the town, documenting houses, businesses and facilities before they were moved. Other images capture the remarkable feat of transporting the buildings to the new site, such as a weatherboard house being carefully towed toward a narrow bridge. Many photos give a vivid picture of the commercial centre of a small country town in the mid-1950s. Advertising signs promote Sennitts Icecream and The Argus newspaper, cluttered shops are packed to the gunnels with equipment and staples for small town life before large chain stores, supermarkets and cars changed country towns forever.
The shops and houses are distributed along straight Towong Street. Cars were scarce and bicycles were an important form of transport in the wide and mostly empty streets. Men and women in the 2 hotels were still segregated in the ladies lounge and main bar; and the hotel’s kitchen equipment was basic. The town offered butchers, barbers, and hairdressers, while the garages, plumbers, and hardware stores served both town and farming needs.
The Tallangatta photographs are part of The Rural Water Corporation Collection of more than 50,000 photographs held at The State Library of Victoria. This collection covers a range of water management projects and activities during the first half of the 20th century.
Badger Bates... water management ...
Badger Bates (William Brian Bates) was raised by his extended family and his grandmother Granny Moysey, with whom he travelled the country, learning about the language, history and culture of the Paakantji people of the Darling River, or Paaka.
When he was about 8 years old Granny Moysey started to teach him to carve emu eggs and make wooden artefacts in the traditional style, carving by ‘feeling through his fingers.’
Badger works in linoprint, wood, emu egg and stone carving, and metalwork, reflecting the motifs, landforms, animals, plants and stories of Paakantji land. His art is an extension of a living oral tradition, and in his work we find the wavy and geometric lines from the region’s wooden artefacts; places of ceremonial and mythological importance; depictions of traditional life such as hunting and gathering bush tucker; and stories about the ancestral spirits; as well as contemporary issues such as the degradation of his beloved Darling River.
1956 Flood... water management ...
In 1956, a monster flood overwhelmed the banks of the Murray and Darling Rivers, producing floodwaters in surrounding towns and rural areas that reached over 30 feet above normal levels.
The Murray Darling Environmental Foundation's 1956 Flood video features historical footage - including photographs and wonderful super8 film from personal collections - that document the rise and flow of the waters, and the monumental effort mobilised to tackle them.
It is presented here in 3 extracts.
The full video is over 25 minutes long, and copies can be obtained from:
Emma Bradbury, Murray Darling Association, Post Office Box 1268, Echuca 3564
Email: [email protected]
Drought Stories... water management ...
“The social impact it has is huge, but the footy club survives," says Charlie Gillingham, mixed farmer from Murrabit.
In this story the community talks about drought: its social impact, resilience, changes to farming practises, changing weather patterns and water trading.
The median annual rainfall of the Wimmera and northern plains of Victoria is 420mm. But this median does not convey the deluges that sometimes double the figure, or the dry spells that can halve it. Like semi-arid places elsewhere, the climate cycle of this region is variable.
Aboriginal people have had thousands of years to adapt to the fluctuations, whilst recent settlers are still learning.
The introduction of the Land Act of 1869 accompanied by the high rainfall La Niña years of the early 1870s brought selectors to northern Victoria and the Wimmera. A series of dry years in the 1880s initiated storage and channel projects to assist them to stay.
Irrigation was introduced in 1886 to settle the northern plains and was expanded under closer settlement legislation. The drought years from 1895 to 1902 came to be known as the Federation Drought. Water supplies dried up completely in the El Niño years of 1914 and 1915 and people took the opportunity to picnic in the empty bed of the River Murray.
Drought hit again during World War Two, and then in the period 1965-8. The drought of 1982-3 was short but devastating. Our most recent drought, lasting more than a decade, broke late in 2010 with extensive flooding.
Policy responses have changed over the years and with the recent onset of human induced climate change, continual adaptation will be required.
In 2009, the History Council of Victoria captured resident’s experiences in the project titled Drought Stories: a spoken and visual history of the current drought in Victoria. There were two aims to the project: to create a historic record of the experience, and to strengthen community capacity in rural and regional areas through telling and listening to local stories.
Two types of collections were produced: Drought Stories Local Collections, held by historical societies, and the Drought Stories Central Archive, a selection of interviews held by the State Library of Victoria.
The History Council of Victoria believes that the project material provides a rich resource to assist researchers understand Australian society at a crucial and revealing stage of adjustment to the Australian environment.
Legislation and other land records are held at the Public Record Office Victoria.
Murray Darling Palimpsest #6... water management ...
In 2006, Mildura Palimpsest became the Murray Darling Palimpsest, emphatically underscoring the identity of the region and its environmental interdependence.
The Murray Darling Palimpsest, staged in locations throughout the Murray Darling Basin, continues Palimpsest’s direct engagement with issues of environmental and social sustainability. With land and water use no longer in the background, Palimpsest is remarkable in its recognition that art affects attitudes, and reflects the engagement and connection many contemporary artists have to the environment; perhaps the most pressing issue we now face.
In 2006, Palimpsest brought together artists, scientists, environmentalists and other academics and commentators with the future of the Murray Darling Basin firmly in sight.
Murray Darling Palimpsest #5... water management ...
Mildura is situated just south-east of the confluence of two of Australia’s great rivers: the Darling and the Murray.
As water and land use creep up to the top of our national agenda, the Mildura region emerges as one of Australia’s most contested places, with small ‘block’ farmers, multinational companies, State and Federal politics, among others, entering the debate.
As such, it was perhaps the most natural place for the biennial Palimpsest expositions and symposiums to arise. Following on from Mildura’s famous sculpture triennials, Palimpsest plays on the idea of the landscape as palimpsest, written and rewritten over both physically and with layers of meaning. Palimpsest engages directly with land, land use, water and issues of sustainability, involving artists, and scientists and other experts, spearheading the creative exploration of key environmental issues.