Only in OZ #20 – 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?
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 …
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!
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??!!
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** 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!!!