for Reg Dodd
At Curdimurka west of Maree there’s a sign:
The Curdimurka Siding, dating from 1888, is the last remaining station yard
of significance left intact on the Old Ghan Railway and includes
station yard, water treatment plant, tower and associated water tank,
fettlers’ cottages and the nearby Stuart Creek Bridge. The 433 metre long
plate girder bridge is located a kilometre west of Curdimurka
and is the second longest bridge on the former Ghan line.
Local Aborigines believed that a great snake named Kuddimuckra lived at nearby
Lake Eyre. They avoided travelling along the shores of the lake and when
many viewed the approaching Ghan for the first time they fled.
Curdimurka siding has been the location for the Curdimurka Outback Ball
held since 1986. The event attracts 1000s of tuxedo and taffeta-clad revellers.
The Curdimurka Kennicott tower, a burnt orange cylinder of iron
that softened the mineralised waters of the spring,
is an Ozymandias on a gibbered plain
with a stairway that sinuously climbs its flank
and Galahs that shriek like tyrants on its peak.
In 1883 engineers proposed pumping sea water
356 kilometres by a channel from Port Augusta to fill Kati Thanda.
When Ion Idriess started to beat up this idea again
W.G. Woolnough, a former Geology Professor in Perth wrote:
Since, however, the bed of Lake Eyre is just under thirty feet below sea level and the length of the canal would be in the order of 400 miles it does not take of very profound knowledge of hydraulics to doubt whether a gradient of less than 1 foot in 10 miles would be sufficient to initiate or maintain a flow of water even in the absence of an evaporation rate of much more than 100 inches a year along its length.
In 2011 Badescu and others dreamed up a scheme
with solar power to pump sea water through flexible pipelines
and a polyethylene film to cover Kati Thanda
to reduce evaporation and enable aquaculture.
John Bradfield designed the Sydney Harbour Bridge
& in 1938 said we should divert water from North Queensland
by tunnels and pipelines to Kati Thanda to irrigate
a great food bowl, generate power and change the climate.
The Queensland Premier asked how much.
Maybe 30 million pounds? End of meeting.
Bjelke-Petersen persuaded Fraser to put up $5 million for a feasibility study
for the same idea before Fraser lost the election in 1983.
Barnaby Joyce and the Queensland Liberal National Party
proposed a New Bradfield Scheme in 2019
with an estimated cost of more than A$15 billion.
Pauline Hanson and Bob Katter think it’s a good idea too.
It had not rained for nine years at Muloorina Station
in 1963 in Arabana country just south of Kati Thanda
when Donald Campbell brought his Bluebird CN7
to break the world land speed record.
He’d tried and crashed at 360 mph in Utah in 1960,
fractured his skull and punctured an ear drum
& said he was no longer much use for anything, old sport
but the Kati Thanda salt flats
provided a perfect fifteen-mile strip, till it rained.
Elliot Price, a friend of Francis Warren, who leased Muloorina
was pleased as wool was one pound a pound
& he could restock his flock.
Price told Campbell, blackfellas won’t go near the lake
because of Kurdimurka, the Rainbow Snake with a kangaroo’s head.
Campbell returned the next year when on 17 July
with his teddy bear mascot Mr Whoppit in the cockpit
he zoomed an average 403.1 mph over a measured mile
with a maximum of 429 mph, to beat his Dad.
On New Year’s Eve he broke the world water speed record
in Bluebird K7 on Lake Dumbleyung near Perth,
the first man to hold both records at the same time.
Trying to go faster in 1967 on Lake Coniston in England
he hit a duck and flipped and died.
They found Mr Whoppit in the reeds.