When the weir took shape

From the Border Morning Mail 19th September 1923, a description that transports you to the site of the Hume Weir under construction.

“In the last 12 months the flying-fox has flown into position. The concrete conveyor rustles its endless way over many small wheels as if proud to tell the visitor that it is the only one in Australia that has departed from the conveyance of wheat, coal and dirt, to convey concrete. A double set of rails denotes the completion of the narrow-gauge railway to the metal quarry. The lines sweep sharply round the hill and wind down into the gorge; where men are chopping away at the earth and drilling holes in the rock. Overhead the flying-fox sneaks noiselessly along, and lowers like a big hawk pouncing upon a defenceless chicken, then to rise and steal away with its prey – a large scoop full of earth and rock. Into the trucks of a steam train the earth is tipped, and when all the trucks have been filled, the engine siren sounds a blast, the echo dying away in the distant valley where the hills appear to be fighting for space. A head peeps out of the engine cabin, and a spurt of white steam indicates that the train is off. Soon the train rattles its way across the improvised bridge over the river, shortly to return with empty trucks to repeat the part rehearsed so often every day.

By 1927, the sluice gates (which are to control the flow of water under normal conditions) and the flood gates (which are to release large volumes during floods) should be in working order. That is the hope of officialdom but officialdom is mistletoed with “buts”, “ifs” and other qualifications. The weir should be completed in four years if Trades Hall agitators don’t succeed in making a battleground of the camp to fight out industrial disputes. If unionists at the weir will be led to the slaughter of idleness, their comrades, who stick at work in the city, won’t mind looking on. But the river, too, must behave well, as a serious flood would upset more than mere calculations on paper.”