Windmills have become iconic with Australia’s outback. They are a familiar sight, a stand signalling a watering point crucial for the survival of stock, wildlife and man. Photographing Australian Outback windmills is something I love doing and its fascinating to learn about the stories behind these windmills.
Australian Outback windmills
For over a century they have generated the means to bring the water of the Great Artesian Basin, the largest and deepest artesian basin in the world, above ground.
Stretching over 1,700,000 square kilometres, the Great Artesian Basin provides the only reliable source of fresh water through much of arid inland Australia.
This windmill is on Norley Station, west of Thargomindah, Queensland, owned by Sir Sidney Kidman, a cattle Baron who once possessed the greatest extent of pastoral properties by any one man in Australia and hence he became known as the ‘Australian Cattle King’.
Slowly windmills are being replaced by more modern equipment and the decline of windmills across the outback is apparent.
Here on Bunginderry Station, 100 kilometres west of Quilpie, an old, broken windmill stands nearby a smaller functioning one.
Bunginderry Station is owned by Annabel and Stephen Tully. The Tully family are pioneers of the Quilpie area and Annabel runs artist retreats so others can enjoy their amazing outback landscape.
In Australia, the Griffiths Brothers from Toowoomba were manufacturing windmills from 1876, with the trade name Southern Cross Windmills in use from 1903.
The other well-known historic windmill brand is Comet which was founded in 1879 by Mr Sidney Williams in Rockhampton, Queensland.
The windmill below is on Tickalara Station in far south-west of Queensland. It is the only station remaining in the corner owned by a family and not a company.
How they work
A number of blades turn slowly with considerable torque in low winds while being self-regulating in high winds.
Image below: As the sun sets south of Winton, Queensland the blades of this large windmill turn generating the power to bring fresh water above ground.Windmills make great photographic subjects and a fabulous addition to any holiday album. My photo tips: Isolate your windmill from other subjects and from the horizon.
Being such a graphic shape it photographs well as a silhouette and forms a strong focal point.
Look for different angles.
Try zooming in on a part of the windmill as below. This windmill is in the main street of Boulia, Queensland allowing all visitors to the town an opportunity to capture one of those iconic outback images!Don’t overlook photographing a windmill in the middle of the day. This windmill on Norley Station with the old bough hut next to it, gives a feeling of desolation and harshness to the outback. But what a remarkable landscape it is!