"Rice sowed seeds of town that became Kununurra"
[Published in the Kimberley Echo on Thursday February 10th 2011. -
The article that was printed was edited from this version.]
The Richter Report, a
result of the 1944 Ord surveys, classified soils and topography of
the Ivanhoe Plains, reporting 80,000 acres of irrigable land. In 1945
the WA Government requested that a Kimberley Research Station (KRS)
be set up, as a joint effort of the CSIR and the WA Department of Agriculture, as earlier suggested by FJS Wise.
As there was no
blacksoil at Carlton Reach, equipment was relocated to the KRS site.
In 1951 The KRS Supervisory Committee (KRSSC) indicated that sugar
and rice were two cash crops that could justify dam construction. Two
years work on the Beef Roads Scheme saw a formed road from Wyndham to
Carlton Ridge (Sleeping Buddha) by the end of 1952.
1952/53 wet season the KRS suspended cotton growing in the hope of
reducing pests. Ivanhoe Crossing was upgraded, with 125
Culverts, each made from 6x44 Gallon drums, purchased in Wyndham at
30/- each, welded end to end. Completed over two dry
seasons by December
1953, costing £30,000, as part
of the 1st element of the “Beef Roads Scheme.”
Anecdotal evidence suggests that these 750 drums were remains from
the Wyndham airport fuel depot, bombed by the Japanese about ten
years earlier on March 3
In 1955 rice cultivation at KRS had expanded to twenty acres of
the "Indica" type, supplying eight tons of seed to
commercial ventures in the North, however a small area of cotton was
badly affected by insects. In 1957 the KRSSC were confident that
sugar cane was well adapted to the Ord and suggested social and
economic, rather than more agronomic investigations be made.
1959 the KRSSC recommended the establishment of a Pilot Farm and by
August that year the Commonwealth government made a grant of £5m to
WA, most for the Ord. By October 1959, the new town of "Cununurra"
had been planned, along with two future towns, "Eastern Town"
and "Western Town" and the KRSSC had dropped sugar favouring
safflower in its place. The first building was erected on the corner
of Messmate and Konkerberry behind the PWD and by 1961 ten elevated
houses and two others were complete or neared completion.
KHS Digital Archive Number KHS 2010-2-045-ar-PD
Original caption by Cyril Ion - Engineering Surveyor for the Public Works Department.
[The 1st PWD Bandicoot Bar camp moved to the town site around this time]
A PDF of this article can be downloaded from the link below.