It was reported that Well 26 infrastructure had been struck by lightning and burned to ground level. The windlass was still intact and it was still possible to retrieve good water from the well but very unsafe to do so.

Track Care WA decided to make it a priority to rebuild the well to a condition to make it safe for public use. Photos from visitors showed the well lining timbers were actually burned below ground level and it was thought some timbers lower down were falling in as a result of tree root activity.

Use was made of sketches used by the 1983 rebuild team which were based on Alfred Canning’s original drawings. Donations were solicited and sourcing of materials and manufacture of components was commenced in April 2011.

While it would be preferable to use plastic look alike sleepers for longevity, they proved too expensive, so Jarrah timber was sourced for the lining and platform, and pine logs for the fencing and troughing rails.

A busy bee was held to cut timbers to size and shape to minimise time at the well site.

The group of 11 vehicles, 5 with trailers carrying 3T of materials left for the CSR on Tuesday 5th July 2011, picked up a submersible pump in Newman and arrived at the well site on Sunday 10th July 2011. Some trailer damage was sustained requiring track side welding repairs, and extensive snatching of heavy trailers over sandhills made heavy going.

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Photo of Well 26 after lightning destroyed the upper timbers.

It was intended to use the ‘airstrip track’ from Well 23 which runs NW around some lakes then east to rejoin the CSR just north of Well 26. At our request some Rangers from Parnngurr Community checked the track the week before the party left and found it impassable due to deep water across the track. Unfortunately, the sandhills on the CSR between Well 23 and Well 26 were formidable to the loaded trailers and caused delays.

An advance party had arrived at the well 2 days before and set up a temporary toilet and commenced removing the loose and burnt-out timbers from around the well.

After arriving midmorning on the Sunday 10th July, volunteers set to installing a trash pump into the well which pumped out water and sand which had found its way into the well. Then it was hard work pulling up buckets of sand and water by hand.

Other volunteers commenced installing the new sheet metal troughing and rails, then, when it was safe to work at the top of the well, replaced the top 3 layers of sleepers, the surrounding platform, a perimeter fence, and reinstated the old windlass.

There was no sign of the whipping pole or the two large cast iron pulleys so this feature was not reinstated.

We had pre-arranged to meet up with a group of Rangers from Parnngurr Community who arrived on Monday.

The Rangers attended to business in the area while the volunteers completed the structures, pumping out the well 5 times to flush the lower levels, and cleaned up the Well 26 area. Work was completed in two and a half days.

The well was measured to be making approx 4600L per hour and CSR travellers were already queuing to draw the clear fresh water.


Well 26 Restoration Team July 2011

In 2012, it is proposed to construct Toilets at Wells 3, 12 and 26. Work is already underway with designing the structures to be ‘flat packs’ to assist transport and minimise weight.

Barbeques will also be installed at these well sites in an effort to discourage camping over a wider area and reduce the size of camp fires and the amount of wood burnt.

It has been suggested to plant some local varieties of trees at certain wells with a watering system fed by travellers as they draw water from the wells.

The 2012 Project Work is proposed to commence on 16th April 2012.

There is a huge amount of repair and restoration needed on the CSR Infrastructure. In addition to Wells and Toilets, future plans include Information Signs along the track advising travellers the distances to the next usable well water, when to start collecting firewood in depleted areas, reminding drivers to reduce their tyre pressure, and hints to assist travellers to ‘Tread Lightly’ on the Track.

The future plans being developed will be implemented by the enthusiastic team of volunteers at Track Care, but are subject to financing from future donations and grants.

Ben Blomfield

CSR Projects Coordinator


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