The Wells

HUNT’S WELLS

 

Between 1864–66 Charles Cooke Hunt was commissioned by the local colonial government, at the urging of the York Agricultural Society and others, to led expeditions east of York to discover, map and develop water sources that would ensure a reliable supply to as far as the Hampton Plains. He was also tasked with assessing the country for its pastoral potential and, although abandoned fairly early, finding a route through to the eastern colonies.

Between 17 January and 25 September 1865 Hunt was in the field with a party of probation prisoners and Pensioner Guards constructing the first of the series of wells from York to the Hampton Plains during what is known as his Wells and Tracks Expedition. Many of the wells constructed by Hunt’s party were known and used by the local aboriginals. Hunt often traded mirrors, knives and tommyhawks to entice them to show him the location of these water sources. Some were improved by being shored up or having the catchment area enlarged. His major wells were fine examples of the stonemason’s art, using local stone that often had to carted considerable distances.

Hunt cleared a track 500 kilometres to the east of York. He established a series of 26 wells, dams, tanks, soaks and other seasonally reliable water holes that ensured a safe and reliable route to the Hampton Plains to near current day Kambalda, Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie, until C.Y. O’Connor's pipeline was completed in 1903. Parties of probationary convicts and their Pensioner Guards built the wells and soaks. Hunt would journey ahead of his construction team to look for more potential wells. He often came upon native wells that he named and for which he recorded the location although he chose not to develop them as the water yield was either insufficient or not reliable enough to be included in his track.

Bayley and Ford, and Paddy Hannan were able to find gold at Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie in 1892 and 1893 respectively because they followed the track that Hunt had cut 30 years earlier – and what become known as Hunt's Track.

Hunt's Track is significant to Western Australia’s heritage generally, not just its exploration history. It allowed:

  • Prospectors and, later, pastoralists to travel into the Western Australian interior.
  • The routing of the Perth to Kalgoorlie pipeline.
  • The establishment of the telegraph line to Kalgoorlie.
  • The construction of the first stage of the transcontinental railway.

Today, Hunt's Track has been preserved and commemorated as the York to Goldfields Heritage Trail. Some of Hunt’s Well have stood the test of time and are in very good condition.  At least 10 have disappeared altogether while others are in a state of disrepair.

 

WELL NO. 1 - YOUNDEGIN WELL

 

The photograph on the right was taken in February 2015. For photographs dating back to June 1981, an assessment of the well and further information, click here.

Youndegin Well

C.C. Hunt first recorded the name for this locality, derived from nearby Youndegin Hill, in March 1864. He considered it to be an important stop and used it regularly. During his 1865 Wells and Tracks Expedition he recorded:

“3 February 1865. Friday. ...During the early part of the day, party engaged opening out the spring, which is a good one, and there being an abundance of grass hereabouts, I have deemed it necessary to make a Reserve of it, it being well adapted for a stopping place for teams, proceeding east northerly from York.”

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WELL NO. 2 - TAMMIN WELL

 

The photograph on the right was taken in February 2015. For photographs dating back to September 1981 (including the nearby Tammin Tank), an assessment of the well and further information, click here.

Tammin Well

The restored well at Tammin (known as Hunt’s Well) is more than likely a well that was constructed in the 1890s gold rush era. The existing well bears no relationship to the measurements of the well as stated by Hunt.

The ‘Hunt’s Well’ is located south of the wheatbelt town of Tammin on the Goldfields Road.

6 February 1865. Monday. At 5h a.m. strong easterly wind. Party engaged quaring [sic] stone, cutting and carting timber to the well. 4h p.m. finished stoning up and covering in, this well is but 10 feet deep by 9 feet by 7 broad, a very fair supply of water, though baled out three times.

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WELL NO. 3 - NARALINE SPRING

 

The photograph on the right was taken in December 1995. For photographs dating back to September 1981, an assessment of the well and further information, click here.

Naraline Spring

The well was dug by pioneer pastoralist Chas Massingham 40 chains (800 metres) from the summit of a quartz hill in a southerly bearing gully a short distance from the spring. Sometime between 1981 and 1991 the well was filled in to allow construction of a dam.

The signpost for Naraline Well on Goldfields Road marks a well constructed by Perry in the 1920s.

 

 

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WELL NO. 4 - MARRONOBBING WELL AND SPRING

 

The photograph on the right was taken in December 1995. For photographs dating back to September 1981 (including Marranobbing Spring, Marranobbing Tank and Marranobbing Dam), an assessment of the well and further information, click here.

Marranobbing Well

Hunt recorded the name for this rock as Maranobbing during his 1864 Exploration Eastward of York in his fieldbook and on various Exploration Plans. He also recorded Maranabbing, Marenabing, Maranobbine, Marranobbing Rock and Spring. In 1871 Alex Forrest recorded Morannupping as the Homestead of Mr Leake and then in 1872 rendered it as Moranupping Spring and Well and Mooranupping Spring. Their attempts at rendering the aboriginal pronunciation of the word into English eventually resolved to Mooranoppin.

There is no specific evidence in any of Hunt’s diaries that his team developed the native well at Mooranoppin although the amount of time spent there and the number of times it was used as a stopping place when Hunt or the party had to fall back would suggest that it was.

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WELL NO. 5 - DOODLAKINE WELL

 

The photograph on the right was taken in February 2015. For photographs dating back to September 1981, an assessment of the well and further information, click here.

Doodlakine Well

Hunt reconnoitred the country ahead for suitable sites while his party constructed the well:

10 February 1865. Friday. 11h 30m a.m. halt at Dodolakine Spring, …. some of party engaged, sinking well, collecting stone …

11 February 1865. Saturday... party engaged about the well, carting poles and stone for the same.

The current Doodlakine Well is about a metre deep, very small and lined with stone. It is more than likely not the work of Hunt’s parties, probably being stoned up during the gold rush of the 1890s. It may be that the original collapsed well is located nearby or that the current well was built over Hunt’s well.

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WELL NO. 6 - METCHERING WELL

 

The photograph on the right was taken in June 1992. For more photographs, an assessment of the well and further information, click here.

 

 

Metchering

Hunt's team opened out the native well at the western base of Metchering Rock in February 1865. Hunt decided the hard, compact sides made it unnecessary to stone line it.

The stone lined well existing today was most likely constructed in the 1890s.

 

 

 

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WELL NO. 7 - TOTADGIN WELL AND DAM

 

The photograph on the right was taken in February 2015. For photographs dating back to September 1981, photographs of Totadgin Dam, an assessment of the well and further information, click here.

Totadgin Well

In early 1865 Hunt’s party of probation prisoners constructed a well at Totadgin:

17 February 1865. Friday. … During the forenoon party engaged, collecting stone, cutting poles and completing the well which is but a small one, though I believe will hold water for all passing purposes.

A few weeks later the team improved the well:

7 March 1865. Tuesday. This day halting at Totadgin … The men engaged sinking as this well there not being a good supply in the first one made …. After the first rainy season, there will allways be an opening for the spring to make its way into the well. I have been at this place several times before and allways thought it one of the best places to make a well eastward of York. … 6h p.m. gave up the new well as useless having come to rock at eight feet, it will make an excellent reservoir to be filled by the first rain fall, being situated in small gully and the side of the wh hole being very firm.

 

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WELL NO. 8 - MERREDIN PEAK DAM

 

The photograph on the right was taken in September 1981. For more photographs, an assessment of the well and further information, click here.

 

 

 

Merredin Peak

 

 

 

 

 

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WELL NO. 9 - BURRACOPPIN WELL

 

The photograph on the right was taken in December 1995. For more photographs, an assessment of the well and further information, click here.

Burracoppin Well

Burracoppin was one of Hunt’s major depots near the start of his track, his 10th camp East of York on his 1865 Wells and Tracks Expedition. He recorded:

23 February 1865. Thursday. 0h 30m p.m. halt at Burrancooping found the remainder of the party on sinking a well, collecting stone, timber etc. 5h p.m. discontinued sinking untill I can collect materials to build it up with at once, as it is impossible to get on with sinking it being through sand and the water coming in very fast, more than two men can bale out and keep under.

24 February 1865. Friday. … the whole of the party engaged about the well, collecting and casting stone, timber & after much trouble we succeeded in getting in the foundation for the well, the sand and water coming in at fast as four men could bale. …. 5h p.m. finished the well No.9 which proves to be a very good one, depth 7 feet, breadth at bottom 7½ feet, top 9½ feet, the water flowed in at the rate of about 150 gallons per hour, to the depth of three feet.

 

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WELL NO. 10 - BOODALIN SOAK

 

The photograph on the right was taken in February 2015. For more photographs, an assessment of the well and further information, click here.

Boodalin

In February 1865 Hunt's team opened out the native well but were unable to build a stone well until logistical issues were resolved:

8 March 1865. The party ... had opened out a well to a small depth ..., unfortunately they are now standing still untill I arrive with the drays, to cut stone and timber for building them up with, and it being impossible to stone up the wells as in fact do anything to them until everything is ready by the side of the well as they are generaly sunk in soft sandy ground, falling in as fast as the men can throw it out.

13 March 1865. Monday... . 9h a.m. party engaged collecting stone, timber etc. 8h p.m. team engaged carting stone to the well.

14 March 1865. Tuesday. ... the party engaged sinking the well and stoning up. 4h p.m. completed the well, though not a good supply, I think sufficient for passing purposes and doubtless after the first winter there will be a good and constant supply.

 

 

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WELL NO. 11 - MOORINE WELL

 

The photograph on the right was taken in February 2015. For more photographs, an assessment of the well and further information, click here.

Moorine Well

Hunt's party worked on the track and the well in early 1965.

27 February 1865. Monday. 7h a.m. sent the bulk of the party forward with the constable and my native to guide them, having given them instructions to open out the wells at Boodlookin, Yorkarakine, Moorine and Kercanie, and to mark a track and clear.

17 March 1865 … at Moorine, the whole of the party collecting stone, timber, rushes etc. for hut and well..

The well was finished on 26 March 1865. It is on the southern side of the rock. 

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WELL NO. 12 - KEOKANIE WELL

 

The photograph on the right was taken in February 2015. For more photographs, an assessment of the well and further information, click here.

Keokanie Well

C.C. Hunt was at Keokanie, a native water source, from 17-22 March 1865. He listed it as Camp No.13 and made it his depot while his men built the well and he explored the country to the east. He recorded:

20 March 1865 Party variously engaged, cutting rushes, collecting stone, timber etc. shoemaker making saddlebags from the poisoned bullocks hide.

21 March 1865 Tuesday. Party variously engaged collecting and bringing in, poles and rushes for the hut and well, the latter very hard to sink, still good prospect of permanent supply of water. The work is progressing slowly the materials being brought from a considerable distance. This day sent two men with the native George to blaze a track towards Kookoordine, having struck out and staked a compass line for them for some distance to enable them to go nearly straight if the country will allow it.

22 March 1865 5h p.m. completed the well and covered it in, it one of the best on the route though shallow, it has been very hard to sink but [h]as well repaid the labour, having a standing supply of water three feet deep – depth of 6 feet 6 inches breadth 8 feet at top – bottom 7 feet in the clear.

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WELL NO. 13 - KODJERNING WELL

 

The photograph on the right was taken in February 2015. For more photographs, an assessment of the well and further information, click here.

Kodjerning Well

Kodjerning Well is near a low lying rock by the same name within a few metres of the road and is fenced and sign posted.

Hunt’s party constructed this well in 1865. He recorded:

21 April 1865. Friday. … start for Kookoordine by way of Kodgering …. At this place I entend to make another well, as there is every indication of permanent water and stone, to stone it up with.

Hunt re-visited Kodjerning on 21 July 1866:

… at 7am started for Kookoordine – in route passing Kodjerning Govt. well distant from last halt abt. 7 miles by track the well I found containing 2 ft 9 ins of water – about the same as when dug – in March 1865.

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WELL NO. 14 - KOORKOORDINE SOAK

 

The photograph on the right was taken in February 2015. For more photographs, an assessment of the well and further information, click here.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hunt used Kookoordine as one of his major depots. On 30 March 1865 he recorded, ‘bulk of party engaged at Kookoordine and beyond, sinking wells’. On 11 April 1865 he recorded:

… the remainder of party en route from Duladgin to Kookoordine, having directed them to fall back to that camp and make another depot untill we can get everything up from Kercanie, having left directions with Corporal Martin to begin making two commodious huts to receive the five months stores and to lodge in, like wise to have the well sunk as deep as possible and stoned up, to make all snug for the rainy season; if we are going to have one,

When Hunt returned to Koorkoordine in July 1866 he recorded:

halted at Kookoordine … found the three huts in good repair and the well containing 2 ½ feet of water – about the mark it stood at last year – this place had been one of my best halting places for upward of two years...

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WELL NO. 15 - WEOWANIE TANK

 

The photograph on the right was taken in February 2015. For more photographs, an assessment of the well and further information, click here.

Weowanie Tank

 

 

 

 

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WELL NO. 16 - CAROLLING TANK

 

The photograph on the right was taken in February 2015. For more photographs, an assessment of the well and further information, click here.

Youndegin Well

Not yet assessed. 

 

 

 

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WELL NO. 17 - QUARDAGIN WELL

 

The photograph on the right was taken in June 1982. For more photographs, an assessment of the well and further information, click here.

Youndegin Well

Not yet assessed.

WELL NO. 18 - BOORABBIN WELL

 

The photograph on the right was taken in June 1982. For more photographs, an assessment of the well and further information, click here.

Youndegin Well

Not yet assessed.

WELL NO. 19 - GRANITE HILL

 

The photograph on the right was taken in June 1982. For more photographs, an assessment of the well and further information, click here.

Youndegin Well

Not yet assessed.

WELL NO. 20 - WARNGANGERING WELL

 

The photograph on the right was taken in June 1982. For more photographs, an assessment of the well and further information, click here.

Youndegin Well

WELL NO. 21 - YERDANIE

 

The photograph on the right was taken in June 1982. For more photographs, an assessment of the well and further information, click here.

Youndegin Well

WELL NO. 22 - GNARLBINE SOAK

 

The photograph on the right was taken in February 2015. For more photographs, an assessment of the well and further information, click here.

Youndegin Well

WELL NO. 23 - HORSE ROCKS WELL

 

The photograph on the right was taken in February 2015. For more photographs, an assessment of the well and further information, click here.

Youndegin Well

Not yet assessed.

WELL NO. 24 - SLATE WELL

 

The photograph on the right was taken in February 2015. For more photographs, an assessment of the well and further information, click here.

Youndegin Well

Not yet assessed.

WELL NO. 25 - STONY HILL TANKS

 

The photograph on the right was taken in February 2015. For more photographs, an assessment of the well and further information, click here.

Youndegin Well

Not yet assessed

WELL NO. 26 - WHITE PEAK WELL

 

The photograph on the right was taken in February 2015. For more photographs, an assessment of the well and further information, click here.

Youndegin Well

Not yet assessed.