Cashbook and Claypan
Birdsville or Bust
East From Oodna
Alive in the Dead Heart
B-line for Birdsville
Trans National Causeway
Rail, Roads and Rivers Rejuvenated
It better utilises river transportation systems, flood control and national defence readiness and allows for the sale of water surplus as well as the harnessing of electricity from waterpower resources. The photo at top left shows the German Army in retreat from Holland during WWII, along a causeway. Using a simple displacement causeway platform they hastily brought up and rearranged and with dredged materials at hand, the Germans recovered massive inventory and manpower, retiring safely and with great speed and so, managed to fight on, a logistical win if not a dastardly retreat in the eyes of the rest of the world.
Algae Alongside the Causeway
My credentials for such a project as this come from my experience as administration manager of the bulldozing team that built the French Line across the Simpson Desert in 1963. The pathway still works without much maintenance. I like to say whenever I go across that I am a pathfinder, perpetually promoting passages. I trust I can help to keep the French Line open to all who respect the crossing.
The photo at right shows what happens when rivers go awry and blue-green algae takes over. Scenes much worse than this are commonplace on the western river systems of country NSW.
Causeway Break in the 'Ghan
The Pituri and Georgina rise from Mt Hogarth and the Selwyn Ranges, together forming Eyre Creek. The Hamilton takes other precious water perhaps later, from east of the Selwyns and carries the Georgina on past Bedourie to again find the Eyre Creek at Kaliduwarry and all might meet the Diamantina at Goyders Lagoon in SA. Might meet, because the Diamantina is subject to the force of the 'Gulf monsoonal rains spooning it through the neck above Winton.
Nevertherless, the Diamantina is the most consistent of all the back Queensland waters. It will always run when the others may not.
Roundabout Leading to the Causeway
These simple river actions may take place over a four-month period. Their concurrent flow results in the mighty meet of the Diamantina and Coopers Creek to ensure the filling of Lake Eyre - normally a thirty year cycle. It is all waste to have a flat plain immersed for a short time in a metre of water. My Trans National Causeway will carry as much of these waters that engineers seek to divert further south, for the greatest benefit. With regard to Coopers Creek losing its 'S', oldtimers have never used the possessive apostrophe that caused the Placenames people to have it called 'Cooper Creek' universally. It doesn't cut it with me. Would anyone be comfortable saying the 'George' for the Georges River in Sydney?
A causeway will divert some of the Wilson and Bulloo Rivers, yet the gates on the riverbeds will deliberately allow enough flow through for stations west of that point. Some diversion from the straight and narrow path is called for to skirt the foothills of the Grey Ranges, otherwise if Sturt was right it is 1° downhill all the way to the Murray.
Meanderings of the Paroo and Warrego
Thus we might expect a five-month cycle of regular riverflow being concentrated upon the Darling, which will have the effect of increasing the flow of water through to Wentworth. Heading due south, the causeway now runs over the same flat country, carrying valuable flow through Ivanhoe, mixing with the Lachlan and then the Murrumbidgee and on to the Murray at Barham, Victoria.
Locks Harnessing Major River Flows
Three or four locks could contain the Diamantina when it wants to be 80km wide and a metre deep. What is left unspilled will travel south along the bank of the causeway, under control and directed where needed. This proposal expects that the free-flowing bores, the generous dams and the water licences given sometimes in political favours, all along the rivers ought to be reviewed as well as having the purposes looked at more closely, in particular the practices of the wasteful northern NSW and Queensland border cotton farmers who have long enjoyed dream runs at the expense of tax-paying consumers.
Containing the Diamantina
Rail running atop the causeway? Yes, indeed. Two rail lines, an UP and a DOWN are essential to open up enterprise and carry goods economically in many directions from this cross-country, all-year accessible rail- and road-way. Rights to the numerous locks, weirs and private diversions must be determined to maintain flow in the channel, when the rivers run. The relatively high ground of the Grey Ranges through which the road track now meanders, presents an engineering challenge the like of which has been overcome in the past.
Why not grow hemp instead of cotton? Hemp has been used to fashion motor car bodies in times gone by. Cotton farming wastes water six times more than hemp and is nowhere near as useful. Rice cultivation in a basically dry country? We must be nuts. We should leave rice-growing to rice-eating people who have monsoonal rains close by their markets and cut our cloth from hemp. In another angle, the Causeway construction process will create a huge demand for labour, equipment and supplies and as it makes ground along its determined path, small townships will rise in support. These micro-communities, spaced 50kms or so apart, though temporary in nature as crews move on, should be encouraged to be the nucleus for a massive decentralisation campaign aimed at future populations of 50,000 people each, thus providing for a possible one-and-a-half million permanent residents along its length, each town self-sufficient and within easy reach of the neighbouring settlement.
Bulldozing the Causeway
The causeway proposal should not be opposed by landowners or lessees on the route. A one kilometre swathe through most properties would allow the causeway to be fenced off for feral animal control as well as provide a corridor for native animals across a significant half of the countryside. Allowing $A6m per km construction cost, that's less than $A10bn for the project altogether. I'd like to dub this grand road and rail causeway with its accompanying diversion channel, the Republican Way, in honour of another long-sought event.
||Try the "with Malice a'Forecourt?" link and read what they did|
|Alive in the
||Thommo's Desert Report - Part A||The BeeGees Page|
|Coles Express Picks On a Pensioner||The Kid From Towra Point|
|Bulldozing a Desert||Trans National Causeway|
|Signwriter for the Simpson||The Long Haul|
|Simpson Desert Birdlife||French Line Circa 1979|