Only in OZ #20 – Steel Wings, Jerilderie, New South Wales

Last Updated on July 20, 2018 by Red Nomad OZ

Steel Wings, Jerilderie, New South Wales
Steel Wings, Jerilderie, New South Wales

After the thrill of finding a bread tin tribute to Aussie bushranger Ned Kelly at the bakery, downtown Jerilderie could hold nothing further for Aussie explorers like us. Could it?

Unique to Australia, and largest known working model!
Unique to Australia, and largest known working model!

But according to the Jerilderie official visitor’s guide, as well as the Ned Kelly connection, this small New South Wales Southern Riverina town is also on Billabong Creek – longest in Australia** – and its Riverina plains are recognised as the best merino country in the world. World first ‘Lone Pine’ Poll Shorthorn stud originated in the area – also a significant Australian agricultural region.

But walking through Luke Park on the banks of Billabong Creek, I looked up through the flashing silver blades of the giant ‘Steel Wings’ as they smoothly clacked through the blue sky above – and was immediately in windmill heaven!

HHHMMMmmm… what does ‘windmill fetishist’ mean?

Originally built in the early 1900’s for nearby Goolgumbula station, this monster windmill – 17 metres (56 ft) high with a fan 9 metres (30ft) in diameter – was one of only six produced by the Steel Wings company in Sydney.  Now the larger of the only two* known working models in the world, they’re unique because, according to Wikipedia, ‘the fan is contained and spins within a fully pivoting frame’.  So now you know …

Steel Wings in Luke Park with Jerilderie lake and Billabong Creek in the background
Steel Wings in Luke Park with Jerilderie lake and Billabong Creek in the background

Relocated to Luke Park in 1979 and restored to working condition 10 years later, Steel Wings is tethered to prevent damage, and pumps 9 litres (2.4 gallons) per revolution. Its distinctive shape and size gives visitors another reason to stop in Jerilderie. Other than Bread tin Ned, and other Kelly gang memorabilia that is!

The SKY and Steel Wings - a winning combination!
The SKY and Steel Wings – a winning combination!

Regular readers will already be aware of my penchant for the ubiquitous windmill – but especially with the waters of Australia’s longest creek in the background, this one is the best yet!

Don’t you agree??!!

Want more information?

*the other is in Taroom, Queensland

** Edit 25/02/12 A number of comments question my statement that Jerilderie’s Billabong Creek is longest in Australia.  As stated above, the information in the paragraph comes fromthe ‘Official Visitors’ Guide Jerilderie’ pamphlet produced by the Jerilderie Shire Council.  They couldn’t possibly be wrong, could they?? Now, after some internet research, I’m not sure!  Here’s what I found – make up your own mind!

  • Information about the Billabong Creek Salt Interception Scheme on the NSW Department of Primary Industries website claims it to be the longest creek in the WORLD!!  It then reports the creek to be ~320 km long
  • Wikipedia’s Billabong Creek entry doesn’t give its length, but cites the above article to support its claim as the longest creek in New South Wales
  • A map of the creek can be found HERE – although the length is not mentioned, the scale is consistent with the above claim (the dark section on the map shows only the mapped part of the creek).  But are there any creeks longer than Billabong, yet shorter than Coopers?  My search didn’t go that far …
  • Wikipedia’s Cooper Creek entry gives its length as 1300 km, significantly longer than Billabong Creek!  But is Cooper’s Creek really a creek?  In name, the only place in the world where two rivers merge to form a creek, the entry indicates that the creek is sometimes known as the Barcoo River and is part of that river system.
  • Cooper’s Creek is found in a list of Australian rivers.  But then, so is Billabong Creek … the definitions of ‘creek’ are many and varied (see HERE for a general google search) – so provide limited clarity, although there are some that arguably place Cooper’s Creek into the ‘river’ category.  

SO … I’ll leave you to make up your own mind!  I’m happy to accept that Cooper’s Creek is the longest in Australia and that Billabong Creek is likely the longest in NSW – but I won’t be betting on that anytime soon!!!

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  1. @TMWH – The more I look, the more I like them!! There you go! Something else we have in common!
    @Diane – I think pretty much ALL windmills are tiny compared to this mother …

  2. I was raised with windmills. Of course, I have to say that ours were infant brothers to your colossus! Beautiful pictures! I think Australia has cornered the market on clear skies and beautiful scenery!

  3. I love windmills too. My grandparents had one on their farm, so I have many happy memories associated with windmills. That one is a beauty!

  4. @Marshall Stacks – Fulsome? Surely not!! That’s so cool about the merino name – I hope I’ll be able to remember that when my Aussie Alphabet gets up to W for Wool!
    @Michelle – You had to be there …
    @Saucy Kod – Yes, I’m just a regular little mine of useless information …
    @Jayne – It’s my pleasure as always to do the travelling & detective work!
    @Jim – Thanx! One day I’ll make it to Sydney again … but wouldn’t dare blog about it for fear of comparison with you!!

  5. @Pearl Maple – nothing quite like it, huh?!
    @Stewart – You’re such a tease! What’s the rest of it say then?
    @River – If I had more pix I’d start up a windmill meme! What do you reckon??!!
    @NixBlog – Sadly, many travellers drive right past …
    @Joan – Haha, I didn’t take it personally, but it also made me curious!! I’m still not sure about the differences, despite all the research. AND wouldn’t want to have CC renamed as a river ‘cos then we wouldn’t be the only place in the world where 2 rivers form a creek!!!
    @Angela – I’ve seen pictures of watermills, but not sure that I’ve ever seen a real one!

  6. Oh my Goodness, this structure is magnificant. What a beautiful windmill. We have some very different windmills here and especially in Prince Edward Island. This was truly a most informative post Red Kid and I love your blog – you deliver so much knowledge and fun stuff, like outdoor “loos”, ha,ha to my desk again and again. Thanks

  7. a fabulous and fulsomely informative post dear RNoz. Thanks for expanding my knowledge. as a swap I can tell you that merino means a fugitive without a home, which is what they were in the mountains of Spain in the 18thC when the king allowed some to leave as a gift to some other king, and some of those got to the Western District of Victoria.
    happy trails to you

  8. Hey thanks for the research. I was just being provocative in mentioning Cooper’s Creek because I know it is really a river … but you can’t blame the explorer thinking that little trickle was a river if he didn’t see it in flood.

    But like you it did set me wondering what makes a creek and what makes a river so your research is very interesting.

    But I’ve gotta admit I was very surprised at how long that Billabong Creek is, given that it not something we had to draw on maps as a kid.

  9. Hi there – splendid looking windmill.

    The ‘do’ message on my last image is as it appears on the building – but as you have guessed I avoided having the rest of the words there with a bit of careful framing.

    Cheers – Stewart M

  10. @MJWC – I guess that’s why they called it that!!
    @Tatjana – Thank you!!
    @Windsmoke – Apparently the biggest one in the Southern Hemisphere is at Robinvale, VIC. But this is the biggest one I’ve seen …
    @Andrew – Efficient or no, it didn’t catch on enough to build more than 6! The sound is like nothing else – todays wind turbines are just not the same!
    @George – YES! The flashing silver, shadows and light against the blue sky are sensational!!

      1. You are right of course, Glenys – the Steel Wings windmill in Jerilderie IS the biggest Steel Wings windmill in the world. However, as they both fall under the classification of ‘windmill’ my comment is also correct because the Robinvale windmill IS bigger than the Jerilderie windmill. But you are also correct because for the purposes of comparing Steel Wings windmills, the Robinvale windmill doesn’t even enter the equation! Thanks for your comment!

  11. @Joan E – Silly me! Fancy trusting the council publication to be correct!! But maybe they are – see today’s edit in my post!
    @FruitCake – Yeah … I went against my better judgement & trusted the shire council info! See today’s explanatory edit in the post!!
    @PDP – It’s what I live for!
    @Carolyn – Thank you!

  12. @Carol – You have to stand underneath it to fully appreciate the size!!
    @Simply Delicious – they don’t get much bluer than this!
    @diane b – Agreed! Too much of our heritage is lost because it’s not maintained and therefore seen as useless!
    @Alessandra – Oh bummer! I was hoping it’d make you think of me!!
    @Beach Bum – Then my work is done …
    @Gemma – Girlfriend, you always capture what I’m thinking so well!! But maybe it just means I’ve got a low attention span …

  13. Before I started reading, I thought that is an odd looking windmill. I suppose it is very efficient, but conventional ones pump water well enough. I remember being somewhere, way out in a lonely paddock with just clanking windmill making a sound. The sound was rhythmic and at odds with any other sound around. It was quite eerie.

  14. That is one huge windmill… Look at all the guide wires that help support it. Steel Wings sounds like a perfect name for it!!

  15. Very impressive Red, I can see why it has to be tethered, that thing swaying around could be a wee bit dodgy! You certainly do make the most fascinating and a lot of the time ‘quirky’ finds out in the wilds of Australia.

  16. My guess would be Cooper Creek is a river, but then I’d have to work out the difference between a river and a creek… oh darn.
    That is one big windmill!

  17. Steel wings spinning a blue sky! Mesmerising! I understand your fascination with spinning sculptures! It is as if their character constantly evolves!

  18. @Joyful – Thank you! The skies really set off the silver blades!!
    @Magsx2 – It’s magnificent! I’m just sorry I didn’t take a pic with a person in it for perspective!

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