What is Stone pitching? A visit to Twelve Mile Dam.

Sunday, Sep 06, 2009 at 12:00


From Ilfracombe, we headed south towards Isisford. Just twenty kilometres to the south we stopped at a historic site and picnic area alongside the dry Stockyard Gully; a place which was once the site of the Royal Mail Hotel at the Cobb and Co change station referred to as the Twelve Mile.

We crossed a farm cattle grid to the site of the first Twelve Mile Dam. A loop at the end of this track gives vehicle access to the site of the Stone Pitching; a form of dam building in gullies. This site shows a remaining example of the way stones were laid to prevent dam wall erosion. With neatly placed selected stones, this shallow dam was constructed to create an erosion proof facing on an embankment, which served as a bye-wash that would retain water to a certain level, causing it to run into and fill the adjacent dam. Excess water was allowed to flow over the bye-wash, thus relieving pressures that might have washed the dam away. This dam was probably constructed in the early 1890s.

The art of stone pitching required careful planning. Suitable stones of the right size and shape had to be gathered, perhaps from far locations and had to be sorted for size before being strategically placed throughout the construction like completing a jigsaw puzzle. As you can see there were a lot of stones for just this one dam.

Read more detail about this trip and see all the photos in our 2009 Travelogues

Red desert dreaming

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