Friday, June 10, 2011

Only in OZ #14 - Tractor Monument, Wentworth, New South Wales


TE20 Harry Ferguson Tractor Monument, Wentworth
 In a parallel universe, the Australian government and public service pantheon would have been well placed to see first hand the effects of 'policies' governing the Murray Darling Basin in the capital Wentworth, at the junction of the Murray and Darling rivers.

BUT … while iconic Wentworth, once busiest inland port in the country, was one of several locations considered as potential Australian capital sites post Federation, it lost out to Canberra.  Australia thereby forever losing the opportunity to take the capital to the people … But I digress!

'Grey Fergie', Wentworth NSW

So, instead of a monument to forward-thinking AND acting (!!) politicians who developed an effective long term management strategy for regulating the Basin (yes, I'm still in that parallel universe!), Wentworth's monument is dedicated to the TE20 Harry Ferguson tractor.

The first monument to a tractor in the WORLD, it commemorates the vital part played by the 'grey Fergie' in protecting the town from destruction by the extraordinary 1956 flood that devastated downstream South Australian towns.

With their town under threat as floodwaters from both rivers headed straight for it, Wentworthians erected massive levee banks and stared the river down.

And at the forefront of this pre-emptive strike?
 The TE20 Harry Ferguson tractor, of course!! An actual 'grey Fergie' tractor greets visitors entering the town across the river – a much more showy monument to this humble farming implement than the small bronze cast of the original.

First Tractor Monument in the world!

But the first monument has its own significance – the height of its rock cairn matches the height the floodwater would have reached had the levee banks not been in place! As this unflattering shot (conveniently smaller than all others) shows …

Maybe it was just as well the Aussie capital wasn't Wentworth in 1956. With so many past and recent examples that demonstrate bureaucratic innovation, efficiency, flexibility and responsiveness to change, the only obstacle to the machinery of government working with the locals to save the nations capital would have been an oversupply of ideas, funding and volunteers.

But there I go … back into that parallel universe again!!

'Grey Fergie' Monument wording


*All pix by Pilchard

21 comments:

  1. May god save the Fergie, surely the most utilitarian tractor beast ever made. Hang on, just checking exactly where Wentworth is. Ah, went through there. I remember oranges. Might have been a good place for our capital, a long way from Sydney and Melbourne.

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  2. When I was there I was so interested in seeing the two big rivers join that I missed this monument.

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  3. that second photo is very impressive!

    great history lesson. :)

    happy weekend!

    big hugs!
    betty xx

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  4. Hi,
    I had to laugh at the tractor, it really does look odd up there in the air, as you say "only in Australia". :)

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  5. Thank god for the reliable Fergie. Fantastic new header, is that you in the background? :-).

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  6. Enjoyed that immensely and love their monument to the height the floods would have reached - intimidating!

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  7. Well now we have a tractor on a pole! Love reading your posts!

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  8. @Andrew - You should remember oranges!! It's within cooee of Mildura in the heart of Sunraysia! Perfect place for the capital if you ask me ... but then where would all those public servants come from??!!
    @Joan Elizabeth - the original is easy to miss as it just looks like a cairn unless you know what you're looking for.
    @Betty - If we don't learn from history we are doomed to repeat it (or whatever the saying is!!)
    @magsx2 - it does look a little ridiculous - until you realise what it represents!
    @Windsmoke - yes, that's what the Wentworthians said! And yes again, that's me in the header pic!
    @Eccentricess - it's scary when you're actually standing there and realise you and everything around you would have been under water!
    @Dianne - Yeah! Find THAT anywhere else!!

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  9. So the people had to go to the capital...

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  10. Very entertaining post Red. Sometimes you have to wonder if there is a special 'qualification!!!' that is required to be a politician?

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  11. I truly enjoy this adventure we are all on with you - thank you for the tractor info today - very interesting and really nice photos. Have a great day - just wondering, when you finish? your adventures, are you going to become a public speaker or write a book? I will buy your book, however I have to start saving now to come to Aussie Land to hear you speak. Have a great day Red. Cheers, Lilly p.s. on the other hand, if it were me, I would choose to be an adventurer the rest of me days :)

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  12. @Alessandra - Yes! Canberra exists for almost no other purpose than machinery of government. Wentworth already had a purpose!!
    @PDP - I'm sure there is ... but just between you & me I'd have to change the status of this blog if I were to verbalise it!!
    @Lilly - Why thank you for those kind words!! Do you know a publisher?? AND ... I'm thinking I don't have to make a choice - I can do both!!

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  13. i love canberra,i visit a lot,can't afford to live there thogh,houses gone up 500% in 12 years.


    if when you are looking at your stats,you see someones been here for an hour or so...that'd be me lol not going to get any work done today,i'm following your travels.

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  14. @IWASNTBLOGGEDYESTERDAY - girlfriend, you gotta get a new short name! I'm exhausted just typing it out!! Welcome, and hope my travels made your day worthwhile!!!

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  15. hi most people write IWBY or you can call me Bee :)
    It did, I did take a break and get out my jammies, but I came back here :)

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  16. Red .... This enters into the category of, "Can you top this?" Yes pun. :) Why do I recall the name Massey connected with Ferguson and I also recall a Massey Harris tractor. Massey must have joined financial tractor forces somewhere along the line.
    Manzanita@Wannabuyaduck

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  17. I think that the Fergie monument would fit in very well in many of the small farming communities in the Midwest. I've found monuments to peanuts, pecans, and watermelons, so a tractor wouldn't be considered strange around here in Texas!

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  18. @IWBY - yep, that's much better!! Come back anytime!!
    @Manzanita - I believe Massey and Ferguson merged later, but I'm no tractor expert!
    @NJAMB - I'm sure it would! I've also see a (now defunct) big peanut in OZ, but not the others although I'm sure it's just a matter of time!). BUT ... you saw it here first!!!

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  19. You find the most interesting obscure facts.

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  20. @SFlaGuy - I'm known for it!! But you don't say whether or not that's a good thing ...

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