Centenary of locking the River Murray: ‘Getting to know Blanchetown, 100 years on’ continued

(continued from yesterday)…The fame, mind you, is largely an accident of engineering. The first lock might easily have been down somewhere near to Swan Reach, only the riverbed was not so favourable or stable to put the bit and bridle on the runaway Murray. So Blanchetown in a night became the first notable center of applied Australian statesmanship to a problem that was many, many years old. Tickled by their own pardonable vanity, the men who are associated with this great accomplishment of contesting politics like to go up to Blanchetown now and then to see how the triumph looks in the solid imposing phrases of concrete written across 443 feet of water. The trip to the lock was a fitting and picturesque finale to the Premiers’ conference. The leaders of the States had wrangled about the project so often that it was quite a fine idea that they should see the harmony that had come out of the tumult of debate and prejudice and selfishness. On Friday night, therefore, a special train drew away from North Terrace for a few days excursion into the graphic realities of the Murray Riverside. The passengers constituted the most distinguished company which had ever made the journey. There were in it the Governor General, the State governor, the acting Prime Minister, two premiers, ministers from every part of Australia, forestry experts, government officials, and a trio of press men. It was a train well freighted with prestige and ability. We left the city amid persistent predictions of a general rain. For two days, the misguided patriot who presides over the weather office had warned us of a wet and cold journey. Occasionally we were cold with the bracing intensity of the Murray in its early winter mood, but – I say it advisedly- unfortunately we were never wet. That is to say, not by rain. All the way to Blanchetown and back we kept a sharp look-out for rain, and were at no time near enough to make even a nodding acquaintance. If there had been a general fall none of the drops had hit any part of the Murray we were on. (to be continued…)

State Library of South Australia PRG280_1_3_289

State Library of South Australia PRG280_1_3_289 Prime Minister Andrew Fisher who was on the trip to Blanchetown in June 1915.