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Northern Territory Cattlemen's Association

Windmills: A friend of rural Australia going back more than a century

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A tried and tested formula: How Southern Cross helped countless rural Australians

In the 1800’s, as European settlers started building homesteads and townships across our dry and expansive nation, one of the biggest questions was how to guarantee access to a reliable and consistent water source. For this reason, most of Australia’s largest towns and cities are built on the coastline, or the banks of major rivers – over 85% of Australia’s population still lives within 50kms of the coast.

However, in 1876 there was great news for farmers and graziers who had set up shop in the rugged outback with the advent of the first windmills rolling off the line at the Toowoomba Foundry. The humble windmill revolutionised rural living in Australia forever.

These first windpumps were based on designs by Daniel Halladay from the United States, where southern states were also looking for an answer to their water woes, and would pave the way for graziers and cattlemen to be able to expand into Australia's dry interior.


Helping Australians access water for over a century

These first windmills (or windpumps), designed to produce water from aquifers deep below the ground were produced by early Australian entrepreneurs, The Griffiths Brothers. The branding of “Southern Cross Windmills” was first used in 1903, and the brand has gone on to become a recognisable landmark of rural Australia.

When driving around rural Australia, whether for work, travel or a road trip, if you drive far enough you’ll undoubtedly spot a Southern Cross Windmill pumping water on a family home or farm, ensuring they can make it through the long dry summers.

Having recently returned to full Australian ownership, Southern Cross Windmills remain Australian made and operated, with mills still being assembled in the Withcott factory, just down the road from the origins of the brand at the Toowoomba Foundry.


Many Australians still rely on groundwater solutions

Many things about living in rural Australia have changed over the years for farmers and cattlemen alike, but one think that never will is the need for a reliable water source. For many Aussies living in the outback, having a functional groundwater pump on their land is a matter of life or death. Pumps are essential to keeping tanks and dams full, and providing sheep and cattle with access to drinking water.

The advantage that a windmill provides is that they require no fuel to operate, and doesn’t need to be linked to a power source to pump water. Windmills continue to run day or night – requiring only a light breeze to pump water, unlike some other pumps which require daylight or petrol to ensure access to water.

Many of the Southern Cross Windmills you see around rural Australia have been pumping water for decades, and some for more than half a century. A windmill that was donated to the Gilgandra Museum and Historical Society after being retired by the property it was on is still in full operating condition 96 years after it was first built, it was still being used in a functional capacity less than 25 years ago!


A piece of Australian culture

If you're looking to have a windmill installed on your property to ensure you can pump enough water for your needs, Call Southern Cross Windmills today on (07) 4612 7202.

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