2a["Our Interviews", The Northern Times (Carnarvon, WA), Saturday 18 November 1911, page 2]


MR. A. Despeissis.

Irrigation on the Gascoyne.

In the course of an interview with the Commissioner for Tropical Agriculture, Mr Dispeissis expressed his surprise at finding so much activity shown in many directions at a time when the Nor'-West was in the grip of one of the most intense droughts experienced for a number of years. The drought after all will prooably result in much good, in improving and expanding the operations of pastoralists for the better and safer stocking of their runs. A good deal of money is being spent in fencing and providing water, in freight and carting over long distances the material required for these permanent improvements. The great sacrifice forced on the squatters now can legitimately be regarded as an insurance against disaster and as an investment which must become profitable when plenty of feed in well watered paddocks follow good seasons. In one particular direction that of utilising the stores of fresh

Water Hidden Underground,

for the growth of fodder for feeding stock the dry season has done an amount of good that will be of incalculable value to those who occupy the rich tracts of land in the arid portions of the State. For some months past I have been engaged in obtaining additional information regarding the extent and the quality of the water known to be lying under the surface along the banks of the Gascoyne in the vicinity of Carnarvon. A systematic boring exploration has been made of the reserves on each side of the Gascoyne, with results that are most satisfactory. Twenty-six shallow bores have been put down at intervals of quarter of a mile, and in each, with the exception of three or four,

Large Supplies of Fresh Water

were struck at depths of 15ft. to 30 ft. from the surface. Each bore has been plugged and located so that when the land is sub-divided the owner will have the knowledge that fresh water, which in many cases has risen a few feet in the casing, lies underneath ready to be tapped and utilised, as is being done by Messrs Angelo at "Leura." When, therefore, these enterprising gentlemen placed themselves in communication with me and made known their object, I secured for them the co-operation of the Department of Agriculture, whose function in a great measure is to assist those who help themselves.


The public seem to be taking much interest in the experiment?

Yes, a good deal of interest has been created in consequence of the work which is

Being Done at Leura,

and an invitation was tendered to all those interested to inspect the work done. Several squatters and a number of gardeners from Yankee Town came up. The work done by the leveller or "slicker" and the "buck scraper" aroused much interest and surprise. An 8 B.H.P. oil engine working a three-cylinder pump over a large well 26ft. deep delivers the water over plots almost as level as a billiard-table, and along furrows graded with a fall of about two inches in the chain. Portion of the ground will also be irrigated by means of sprinklers placed half-a-chain apart and fed from a capacious tank over a stand 25ft. high. Already

Millet, Sorghum, and Maize,

have been sown on each side of the ridges between the furrows. Lucerne will be sown over the plots after the first growth of double-gees has been dealt with. Barley will also be sown. If the first and luxuriant

Growth of Double-gees,

which in the wet season covers the land, can be successfully checked, many similar plots will no doubt be established. This experiment is all the more valuable as the Gascoyne has not run for over two years and there is little or no feed to be seen on the country around.

2b["Irrigation at Carnarvon", The Western Mail (Perth, WA), Friday 29 August 1913, page 16]



Mr. Stirling Taylor, of Kellerberrin, who has just returned from a lengthy trip along the north-west coast, brought back with him come fine samples of winter tomatoes, and a high opinion of the future prospects of irrigation at Carnarvon. It will be remembered that two or three years since Mr. Despessis, when Commissioner for Tropical Agriculture, visited Carnarvon, and brought under the notice of Mr. Angelo the suitability of the alluvial land on the banks of the Gascoyne River for irrigation purposes. These lands are from one to two miles wide on each side of the river, and extend inland for about 50 miles. Mr. Angelo, who was formerly manager of the Union Bank at Carnarvon, was impressed with the prospect, and at his request the Department of Agriculture sent Mr. Scott, Irrigation Expert, to give his practical advice on the subject. The 10-acre plot laid out by Mr. Scott is rectangular in shape, and down the centre Mr. Angelo sunk a series of four wells, through some 15ft. of red friable or sandy loam, below which is a gravel bed containing excellent water. The supply of any one well is limited, but the drawing on one does not seem to affect the supply in adjacent wells. The water level is about 18ft. from the surface, and the water is pumped into 20,000-gallon squatter tanks, built slightly above the surface of the ground. Down the centre of the rectangular area is an irrigation ditch, and land on either side is divided off into level plots separated by slightly raised banks, but the whole area including these banks is sown with lucerne, and the mowing machine can work over them. The water is accumulated in the tanks until there is a sufficient supply to flood one or more of the plots. Carnarvon is said to be a very windy place, and owing to this windmills are the cheapest and most effective method of raising water, and by accumulating it in these cheap tanks the flooding system can be carried out effectively. Fortunately there is the least wind in the winter time, when a short supply does the least injury, although as the rainfall is only 7in. on the average, the crop almost entirely depends upon the irrigation water. Thc climate is so mild that lucerne grows readily right through the winter months, and Mr. Angelo states that during the past 12 months he has made 10 cuts of lucerne from his 10 acres, the cuts averaging about four and a half of green stuff per acre, equivalent to about 25cwt. of hay. This means 45 tons of green stuff, or 12 tons of hay per acre per annum, and the people of Carnarvon are beginning seriously to consider the possibility of closer settlement on this stretch of alluvial land.

Mr. Angelo has a large piggery, and keeps some hundreds of pigs, which he feeds chiefly upon lucerne, together with the waste vegetables and so forth, and he is able to supply the passing steamers with their requirements of pork. He also grows bananas, and has about a quarter of an acre under tomatoes. He intends increasing the area considerably in order to supply Perth with tomatoes in the winter. The samples brought down by Mr. Stirling Taylor were gathered and packed in an ordinary quarter fruit case on one Monday and delivered in Perth late on the following Saturday evening. Some were picked on the ripe side, and were in a perfect condition for consumption on the Monday, while those which were greener will keep for four or five days longer. Mr Angelo trains his tomato plants on wire trellises, and the plants are kept for two years, being productive the whole time, When this trade is established Perth will be supplied tomatoes of the finest quality, the whole year round. Strawberries are also grown and ripen in winter, the crop being now at its best. Vegetables of all kinds grow luxuriantly, and French beans, like tomatoes, can be produced in large quantities ut the winter time. Besides the pigs, Mr. Angelo uses his lucerne for feeding sheep and his dairy cattle, which are kept for supplying the town of Carnarvon, in addition any surplus is sold either as green fodder or as chaffed lucerne hay. To show the character of the climate, Mr. Taylor states that on the 16th of August the grape vines were already well shot, and Mr. Angelo informed him that he has grapes ready early in December, and as other people are planting vines to a considerable extent it is probable in a few years that Perth will be supplied with grapes from Carnarvon early in December. The vines yield heavily, and the quality of the grapes is said to be excellent. The fig trees bad already commenced their season's growth at the same time as the vines. With irrigation, oranges do remarkably well on these alluvial flats, so that there seems to be possibilities for intense culture in many directions, which will possibly quite alter the industrial conditions of the district. The worst trouble, which the people have at the present time is the spreading of the double-gee. So far no means of combating th pest have been discovered. In addition to the tomatoes, Mr. Taylor brought down a very fine sample of lucerne, over 30in. tall, representing the August cutting of Mr. Angelo's plot.