In order to obtain a water supply South Australian rural settlers established themselves, wherever possible, near creeks (which did not necessarily run year-round) and dug wells and dams. By hand.

Some Government wells were provided, such as the Booleroo Whim and the Yanyarrie Whim, at Carrieton

26 June 1886


"We were all greatly surprised to see that tenders were called for the lease of the well in last week's Gazette. If this well is leased we shall have pay for our water in addition to paying for feed, and this would be a terrible hardship upon some who are now at their wits' end to pay their way. At the present time there are seven wells being put down, and others will be started in a few weeks. Several tanks have also been made."

The Booleroo Whim was a government well provided in the 1850s, sunk to approximately 90 feet into the Booleroo Creek. Water was only available for settlers until they had dug their own wells. Water was dragged up out of the well by a horse circling a rotating wooden structure. It was last used in 1938.

The Yanyarrie Whim was a large stone tank used by drovers using the north/south stock route and teamsters on the copper road from Burra to Blinman

Booleroo Whim 2012

Yanyarrie Whim 2012

Water was, however, made available every 20 miles along stock routes. Hogshead Hill, just south of Pekina, was so called because water was provided in hogsheads there.

Tanks and dams were also provided for the railways.

Eurelia Railway Tank

The information below was derived from articles at SA Water's History site

Reservoirs were dug at:

Beetaloo, with a capacity of 3180 megalitres, is located between Crystal Brook and Laura, and is constructed with a curved concrete gravity wall 210.3 metres long 33.5 metres high. It was built between 1886 and 1890 to provide water for Port Pirie and the Yorke Peninsula. It was, at the time, the largest concrete dam in the Southern Hemisphere.

Bundaleer, with a capacity of 6370 megalitres, is located south of Georgetown and is outside the map area of this website. It is constructed of a wall of earth with a clay core 333 metres long by 24.1 metres high and was built between 1898 and 1903 to supplement Beetaloo and also supply Snowtown, Redhill, Brinkworth, Narridy, Blythe and Port Wakefield.

Baroota, with a capacity of 6140 megalitres, lies between the Mount Remarkable National Park and the Telowie Gorge Conservation Park. It was completed in 1921 and is constructed of a wall of earth with a clay core 301 metres long by 30.5 metres high. Supplying additional water for Port Pirie and other adjacent northern areas, it also receives water from the Morgan-Whyalla Pipeline.

The Morgan-Whyalla Pipeline

Whyalla was established in the early 1900s as base for iron ore mining.

The Morgan Whyalla Pipeline was constructed between 1940-1944 by the then South Australian Premier, Thomas Playford from his ambition to industrialise the Mid North during World War 2. The pipe diameter varies from 750 mm at Morgan to 525 mm at Whyalla and is predominantly above ground on concrete supports. The pipeline had a capacity of 9550 megalitres per year and was pumped through four pumping stations over a distance of 379 kilometres.

Extensions to the original pipeline were subsequently made from Port August to Woomera, with branches to Iron Knob, Jamestown, Peterborough and numerous other country towns and farming areas.

A duplicate pipeline was constructed, running side by side with the original pipeline until near the Baroota reservoir where the second line veers across Spencer Gulf, submarine to Whyalla. It was completed in 1967.

Every year the two pipelines can carry 66,000 megalitres of water from Morgan, where it has been pumped through a treatment plant from the River Murray.

Floating work sheds on the Murray River during a large pipe laying operation

Irrigation pipes being carried by train

Laying water pipe in Mallee country

Pipeline construction, Morgan

Painting the pipeline

The above photographs are courtesy of the State Library of South Australia

Morgan-Whyalla Pipeline east of Port Pirie