A short tale of adventure
NO FREE LUNCH – Not a Walk in the Park
By Peter Attwood
If you were walking the Main Border Track from Binna Burra Lodge during 1969, you may have seen a strange sight.
Up ahead was a long length of black poly pipe just disappearing around the bend in the track.
No, it wasn’t the world’s longest black snake but on getting closer you could see some strange bods wrestling with it – hey Dad !! What are those people doing ??
During the summer of 68, Binna Burra Lodge had once again come very close to running out of water. Several attempts to dam a very small unreliable stream below the Lodge had failed and so the great minds set to work to find a solution.
Sure there was always a good supply of water out on the Coomera above the falls but that was at least 4 miles away! How could you possibly harness that supply of beautiful drinking water?
Then one day someone just jokingly said, why not PIPE the water from the Coomera.
There were a lot of facts to be gathered and questions answered to gauge if it was feasible.
The water would need to be gravity fed but there would no pressure. Maybe a large holding tank could be built on what was then Lodge land at the entrance to the Park. Then the water could be pressurised if necessary before going onto the lodge.
Was the Coomera Cascade area higher than the Lodge? Yes, it was – but by how much. Kevin Bade, the park ranger at the time did some calculations and there was just enough fall for a gravity feed if the pipe was laid carefully across country.
Would the authorities allow water to brought from within a National Park? Well yeesss – not sure how that got through – maybe if it also benefitted the National Park facilities at the park entrance?
After all the problems were solved, there was only one other matter, – the labour cost would be enormous. No one had thought about that. Richard Groom, the then manager, recalled that there had been some voluntary work done around the Lodge in the past.
So it was that the Binna Burra Bushwalking Club based in Brisbane was asked if they would be interested in helping. The BBBWC had been formed in 1965 by a small group of Lodge regulars who had travelled to Central Australia together.
So it came about that the Clubs “volunteers” would be offered a “free” weekend at the Lodge with Saturday being a work day and a Sunday rest day. In fact Sunday was needed to recover from a punishing day before. The water pipe arrived at the park entrance in rolls. Each section of pipe was unrolled and dragged – tugged and abused by 4 people along the Main Border Track. At a precise point calculated by Kevin Bade, they then headed off into the rainforest.
Rainforest is full of unforgiving Lawyer Vine and other nasties that scratch and bite. So the first day was hell even for the fairly fit BBBWC. The problem was if you fell over or became entwined in *****vine the pipe just kept on going pulled along by the others who were unaware of your plight. You quickly let go and untangled yourself before catching up.
The Ranger used a Clinometer to measure the predetermined fall for each section of pipe which was then pulled into place in the forest.
Meanwhile another group of “volunteers” was assembling a huge round metal tank that had been prefabricated in Brisbane. It came in sections somewhat like a Meccano set and this was to be the holding reservoir once the Coomera water came down the pipe. This group often included the “injured” from the pipe laying teams.
After months of hard yakka, the pipe was laid and the water tank began to fill without the need of a pump – Kevin’s calculations were correct and there were a lot of tired but proud and happy “volunteers” to witness the occasion.
So when you have a drink of Binna Burra water, raise your glass to the health of some true pioneers. Most of them are now in their 70’s and 80’s but they remember it well.
Footnote 1. I have written this account many years later in an attempt to document this significant event in the history of Binna Burra Lodge and also for the history of The Binna Burra Bushwalking Club (now known as Bushwalkers of Southern Queensland). Some of the facts regarding approvals and behind the scenes planning are unknown to me.
Unfortunately, I don’t know the names of all the club members involved, so I have purposely have not mentioned any names. Suffice to say that all the active members in 1969 contributed their efforts in this mighty project. Peter
Footnote 2. “Not a Walk in the Park” as suggested by Neville McManimm.