Sunday History Photo / Vic

Submitted: Sunday, Sep 28, 2014 at 08:54
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Tongala is a town in the Goulburn Valley region of northern Victoria, Australia. The town is in the Shire of Campaspe local government area, between Kyabram and Echuca, 225 kilometres North of Melbourne.
In July 1841 Edward M. Curr arrived at his new 50-square-mile squatting run, which he named ‘Tongala’. He later recalled the derivation of his station name: ‘The name was not by any means an apt one, as it is the Bangerang name for the River Murray.’ Tongala in fact straddled the Goulburn River; Curr set up his station headquarters on the river’s southern bank, about eight miles from its confluence with the Murray. He did not record the reason for his inappropriate usage of the name; it might have been the result of a misunderstanding, as he later opined that Aboriginal words were ‘frequently very euphonious’.

At Tongala Curr encountered for the first time the Indigenous people who are the ancestors of the Yorta Yorta claimant group. According to Curr’s classification, his squatting run encompassed the traditional land of at least two clans: the Towroonban lived predominantly on the sandhills between the Goulburn and Murray rivers, while the more numerous Wongatpan congregated further north in the region known as the Moira.

The first Post Office in the area opened on 27 April 1878. In 1882 it was renamed Kanyapella and a new Tongala office opened to the South; this was renamed Tongala East in 1908 when a new Tongala office replaced the Tongala Railway Station office in the township.
St Patrick's Catholic church was constructed in 1909, opening on Sunday 28 November 1909. St Patrick's Catholic primary school was opened in 1959.

The Tongala water tower was constructed in 1914 with an initial capacity of 10,000 imperial gallons (45,000 l) and extended to 20,000 imperial gallons (91,000 l) in 1923.
Firm: RCMPC. Designer: John Monash. Assistant Designer: J. A. Laing. Client: Tongala Waterworks Trust. Client's Engineer: A. E. Castles. Initial Design: March 1914? Definitive Design: April 1914. Construction: August to October 1914. 100 YEARS AGO.
Some work was done on this tower in March 1914, but when tenders were called in April, RCMPC decided not to tender "owing to want of time". A few days later Monash made a one-page estimate and wrote to Castles to ask if he wanted a reinforced concrete tender. In the meantime Laing continued with detailed investigation and design. The Trust was evidently short of money, for the idea was to build a tank capable of holding 10,000 gallons which could be doubled in capacity at some later date.

This meant reinforcing the lower part of the tank wall to withstand a head of 18 feet of water, though it would only be subjected to 9 feet in the first part of its life. Monash quoted about £350. At the start of June, Castles informed him the Trust was trying to raise another £100, and asked for a detailed design as soon as possible as the tank was needed urgently for the coming summer. A reinforcement drawing and specification were duly produced in mid-June. When Castles saw the wall was to be only 4" thick he was worried that it might not be watertight, but was reassured by Laing. There was some delay in formalising permission for the tank was to be sited on Railway property, and then because the SRWSC was "sitting on the plans". Monash offered to call on Thomas Murray to do what he could to help the matter along. SRWSC approval was given a few days later. In a massive understatement, Monash wrote to Castles: "The impending troubles in Europe may possibly have some effect upon our organisation and work in the near future, but I am hoping that this will not be so …" Construction commenced at the end of August under A. E. Lynch and was completed late in October. Although Castles complained about the painting of woodwork and a sticking depth gauge,
After World War I many blocks were opened up under the 'soldier-settler' scheme. One such soldier settler was John McEwen— later Prime Minister of Australia—who bought a block at Tongala and married a local, Anne McLeod, in the town in 1921.
In November 2003 a monument to the 24 Australian Light horse regiments and their horses was unveiled by Maurice Watson, aged 84 the last Light Horseman, who enlisted from Tongala. The statue, standing two metres, is of a horseman carrying an empty saddle, bridle and saddle cloth, walking away, head lowered.

Another product from Tongala is Scotty Baker, Scotty's gift of crafting clever lyrics has also been noticed in the media world, and he's written, and recorded theme tunes for radio, and TV. Scotty is very excited about the future, with some major gigs under his belt, such as headlining at the 2013 'Rockabilly Rave' in England, and with some major gigs on the horizon, such as a return to the Rave in 2014, and a debut gig at Viva Las Vegas in 2014. Be sure to keep an eye out for this sharply dressed cat playing at major Rockabilly events Australia and world wide. If you're into 'Home grown Rockabilly, with a healthy dose of Country', you'll be glad you did!

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Reply By: Member - Heather L - Sunday, Sep 28, 2014 at 10:08

Sunday, Sep 28, 2014 at 10:08
Thanks Doug,
My grandmother brought my mother, to her sister, in Tongala in 1926 as a 17 year old who had been brought up in Madras, India. As a British soldiers daughter she was used to servants, light, colour and lots of people; a soldiers settles farm in flat, wet, cold Tongala was such a shock! My grandmother died "of a broken heart" and is buried in Echuca - I am the only member of her family to find her grave - my mother & her only remaining family moved to a soldiers settlers dry, hot block in WA where she met & married my father.
Recently I spent a week in Tongala and had half the town looking for "Neeance Farm" - we narrowed it down to a half mile stretch of road. Not much changed since 1926.
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Follow Up By: Life Member-Doug T NSW - Sunday, Sep 28, 2014 at 10:33

Sunday, Sep 28, 2014 at 10:33
Thank you Heather , your reply and photo is fantasic , one of the best replies in all the SHP's.

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Reply By: Ron N - Monday, Sep 29, 2014 at 00:23

Monday, Sep 29, 2014 at 00:23
Another good post, Doug, thanks. "Euphonious"?? Had to look that one up.
That'll be a good one to bring out, when I need to bring someone to heel. [;-)

I guess not everyone would know that that "John Monash", the civil engineer, was later, General Sir John Monash of WW1 Australian military leadership fame.

One of our greatest military leaders, and a man responsible for modern day combined military tactics, which he introduced to WW1 at the Battle of Hamel.

John Monash's planning for actions always involved incredible precision and planning.
He planned for the Battle of Hamel to take exactly 90 minutes to complete.
It took 94 minutes to bring it to its highly successful conclusion.

The Battle of Hamel was Sir Johns first major combined military action, and it was also the first action involving American troops - who operated under the command of the Australians, so they could learn WW1 battle tactics.
Thus, the Americans have the Australians to thank for learning modern battle tactics.

The Australians were somewhat appalled at the 'gung-ho' attitude of the Americans, and had to pull them back down into the trenches time after time, as the Americans showed valour, bordering on total foolhardiness.
The Australians taught them to be a little more circumspect, and probably saved a lot of American lives in doing so. Not a lot has changed in 96 years!

Sir John went on to win every single engagement with the Germans from the Battle of Hamel to the end of WW1.
I personally regard him as one of the most outstanding men in Australian military history.

John Monash was also responsible for the introduction of reinforced concrete construction to Australia, and he also formed the Monier Pipe Co that specialised in reinforced concrete pipes.

John Monash and the Reinforced Concrete & Monier Pipe Co
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Follow Up By: Life Member-Doug T NSW - Monday, Sep 29, 2014 at 04:26

Monday, Sep 29, 2014 at 04:26
Thanks Ron, good to see your on the ball.

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Follow Up By: Ron N - Monday, Sep 29, 2014 at 08:38

Monday, Sep 29, 2014 at 08:38
Doug, in the "HistoryPin" link I posted above, there's a photo (number 19 in the slideshow) showing the early part of the water tower construction.

However, the Melbourner University archivist has noted the tower was built by the Echuca Waterworks Trust - not the Tongala Waterworks Trust - and the construction period was from July 1914 to March 1915.

I'm not sure who's correct (archivists make a lot of information accuracy errors as well), but I'd imagine the build time of 8 months for the tower, as stated by the archivist, is probably more accurate.

Once WW1 started, labour was hard to get, as a huge number of blokes deserted the workforce to join up.
Thus, the tower would have taken longer than normal to build.

In addition, when WW1 broke out in August 1914, Monash, who was already an officer in the Army Reserve, was immediately appointed a full time officer and given the position of official censor.
He complained about this position that he regarded as inconsequential, so he was then given command of the 4th Brigade.
The 4th Brigade missed the first sailings to the Midde East, due to training requirements, and embarked in December 1914 and arrived in Egypt in January 1915.

All this meant that Monash was no longer supervising the construction of the water tower from August 1914 onwards, as he most likely would have been initially, in July 1914.

Echuca Historic photos
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Follow Up By: Life Member-Doug T NSW - Monday, Sep 29, 2014 at 10:54

Monday, Sep 29, 2014 at 10:54
Ron, that is the Echuca Water Tower, not the Tongala WT. but thanks for those links, I have added them into the favorites for future reference.


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Follow Up By: Ron N - Monday, Sep 29, 2014 at 11:22

Monday, Sep 29, 2014 at 11:22
Ah-ha! Thanks for the correction. That's quite amazing, the number of water towers constructed by Monash and his partners.

The Monash water towers

The Tongala water tower is but a toy compared to the Echuca tower!
I was wondering why the Echuca tower cost 10 times as much to build as the Tongala tower - until I saw that the Echuca tower was 15 times larger!

Cheers, Ron.
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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Monday, Sep 29, 2014 at 13:51

Monday, Sep 29, 2014 at 13:51

It's obvious Monash didn't throw away the mold for those water towers. The rather ordinary photo below is of Winton's (Qld) water tower, taken 4 years ago. It had just been repainted, so is looking its best at the time.

Don't remember when it was built but think it may have been in the '50's. Currently used for all the transmitting aerials for TV and local radio. Optus ran a mobile phone trial from there a few years back, but Telstra still rules the roost around these parts.


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Follow Up By: Ron N - Monday, Sep 29, 2014 at 15:18

Monday, Sep 29, 2014 at 15:18
Bob, thanks for that. I guess once the reinforced concrete design was settled on, as a suitable and moderate cost answer to water supply storage and pressure requirements, it took off.
However, it's also interesting that the design appears to be strictly limited to the Eastern States - despite Monash being involved in W.A. projects.
No-where in W.A. have I seen this design of reinforced concrete water tower.

The largest number of water storages in W.A. are placed on hills. Even though it seems most of W.A. is flat, there's enough undulations to usually find a high spot to position a tank.
Most of those tanks are steel, although quite a few are concrete.
Around the metro area of Perth, the water storages are excavated concrete-lined reservoirs, like big swimming pools.
I have no idea why this design was chosen - except perhaps it was done so the water could be aerated or treated more easily.

The most interesting tanks I've found are the old WAGR water tanks, that were located near sidings or watering points for the steam locos.
A dam was usually built near to the line and a large tank erected to hold a sizeable supply to quickly refill the loco.

These tanks were made up of huge, lipped cast iron plate sections, and lipped cast corner sections, that were all bolted together at the lips, and sealed with lead in the joins.
The tank was usually mounted on a massive timber tankstand made from braced karri poles.
I've never found out who cast the tank sections, or who built the tankstands.
I suspect someone like Metters may have cast the sections, although it could also easily have been Hadfields or Hoskins foundries, too.
There would have been a lot of work involved in putting them together.

There's virtually none of them left, the scrappies loved getting hold of them, each one would contain many tonnes of cast iron.
The classic preserved one is in the main street of Merredin - I can recall one at Broad Arrow, and another one at Moulyinning, West of Kukerin.
There's probably more I saw over the decades, if I can rattle the brain and remember where I saw them.

Here's the one in Merredin, the Karri poles under it are magnificent.

Merredin railway tank

Here's the one at Broad Arrow, this is the classic design of the WAGR tanks.

Broad Arrow railway tank

This one is a little more unusual, it's at Yalgoo and it's been mounted on a stone building instead of the usual timber tankstand.
I'd guess the cost of getting timber to Yalgoo might have made the stone building more attractive - and it also had the advantage of giving them a secure storage area under the tank.

Yalgoo railway tank

Cheers, Ron.
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Follow Up By: Life Member-Doug T NSW - Tuesday, Oct 07, 2014 at 21:12

Tuesday, Oct 07, 2014 at 21:12
G'day Ron
I just got around to checking the links you gave, that Merridan tank for railways might have been built at Kapunda in SA, because the one at Adelaide River station NT was built at Kapunda .

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Follow Up By: Ron N - Tuesday, Oct 07, 2014 at 22:56

Tuesday, Oct 07, 2014 at 22:56
Thanks for the additional info Doug - I don't recall seeing that tank when I went through Adelaide River about 5 years ago - and I spent a bit of time in the Railway Museum, too.

I guess it's possible some person, or some company, had a design right to the tank style, and they let other companies make it under licence.

I'd still love to be able to find out who it was that originally made them. Furphys, maybe? They specialised in water tanks, and they also used cast iron.

Cheers, Ron.
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