Cobdogla. Vines and the two foot guage Cobdogla to Loveday railway. It opened in 1921 to carry irrigation pipes. Now used for tourists from the Cobdogla Steam museum.

May 13, 2019 - Comment

Cobdogla. Vines and the two foot guage Cobdogla to Loveday railway. It opened in 1921 to carry irrigation pipes. Now used for tourists from the Cobdogla Steam museum. Image by denisbin Cobdogla. John Chambers occupied land along the Murray and around Lake Bonney in 1842 which he named Cobdogla. He obtained his first legal lease

Cobdogla. Vines and the two foot guage Cobdogla to Loveday railway. It opened in 1921 to carry irrigation pipes. Now used for tourists from the Cobdogla Steam museum.
camping 7 caravan club
Image by denisbin
Cobdogla.
John Chambers occupied land along the Murray and around Lake Bonney in 1842 which he named Cobdogla. He obtained his first legal lease in 1846 which covered 204 square miles across to Overland Corner. By 1847 and for many years after this his station manager was James Trussell. Thus when Cobdogla town was created the main street was named Trussell Terrace. Chambers still had Cobdogla station in 1895 but the land was resumed for irrigation development by the government in the early 20th century.

The government first considered a Lake Bonney or Cobdogla irrigation scheme in 1892 but as the depression of 1892 hit the government did not have enough funds. It was at that time that the Village Settlement Scheme was enacted as a cheap option to get some irrigation going along the Murray River without major government investment. Around 1910 the government considered an ambitious scheme to have five large irrigation areas around all sides of Lake Bonney. (That would have been an environmental disaster because of saline back water seeping into the Lake.) That scheme was not progressed but in 1913 a smaller irrigation scheme to the south and west of Lake Bonney was again considered but it was abandoned in 1915 before work began. Finally in 1915 the Cobdogla Irrigation area was surveyed away from the shores of Lake Bonney. Some works then began. Hundreds of men prepared the district by clearing the Mallee scrub, and levelling the paddocks. Within a few years water was provided from the Loveday pumping station on the Murray River as well as the Cobdogla pumps also on the Murray River. Cobdogla used the world famous Scottish Humphry pumps from 1925 with installation starting in 1921. The Cobdogla pumps are the second largest Humphrey pumps in the world. There were always problems with the pumps and they were replaced with electric pumps starting from 1943 during World War Two when more water was needed for the Loveday Prisoner of War camps. The prisoners of war grew a lot of vegetables for the domestic markets. When the Cobdogla irrigation area began the area needed pipes to take water to Loveday and other areas. In 1921 a huge government contract was let to the Hume pipe company to make around 300 miles of pipes of varying sizes. The works covering over 41 acres employed 400 men. The government was responsible for supplying plant, stores and equipment for the factory so they decided to build a 2 foot gauge railway line from Cobdogla wharf where barges would unload cargo to the pipe factory at Loveday. Horses proved unsuitable for hauling the rail carriages so in 1921 a rail engine from the Zeehan silver and lead mines in Tasmania was purchased for the job. A second locomotive known as a Bagnall engine was then purchased in Adelaide and the two locomotives worked day and night to keep up supplies to the pipe factory. The Humes contract ended and the factory closed in 1923. The Bagnall train engine was made in 1906 in England and was used at the Walhalla gold mines in Victoria until 1911. This engine was used for transporting timber at Cobdogla from 1923 to 1960. It was sold several times, flooded several times and then repurchased by the government, restored and passed on to the Cobdogla steam museum in 1988. The railway line was originally about 7 kilometres long from Cobdogla to Loveday but only half of that is used these days for steam train trips from the Cobdogla Steam Museum.

Cobdogla township was established in 1914. One of the first public buildings was the school which opened in 1917. This sold construction school and residence was completed in 1916 at a cost of over £2,000. From 1919 the population of the irrigation district grew with World War One soldier settler blocks being developed in the district. 1923 saw the Cobdogla Memorial Hall opening and the small town had a store and garage by the early 1920s. The Cobdogla Club began in 1958 and is the only licensed premises in the town. The town was built near the ruins of Cobdogla pastoral homestead which is now part of the site of the caravan park.

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