(Cairns... Far North Queensland)
On the western side of the Great Dividing Range, parched cattle and sheep country withers under the ravages of drought, while on the eastern side, sparkling river water gushes into the sea.
It was the same in 1929, when Dr. J. J. Bradfield dreamed of turning back these wasteful waters to make the deserts of Queensland, New South Wales and South Australian bloom.
But the Brisbane Engineer who designed and supervised the building of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Story Bridge in Brisbane and Sydney's Underground Rail System, couldn't convince Australia that he was right.
John Bradfield's grand plan centred on the North Queensland rivers of Upper Burdekin, Herbert and the Tully, which he saw pouring billions of litres of WATER through a system of dams, tunnels and conduits to irrigate thousands of square kilometres of Central Australia from Charters Towers to Alice Springs.
When Dr. Bradfield officially submitted his proposal in 1933, he estimated the costs at $164 million.
Successive studies said that Dr. Bradfield's vision was faulty, his levels were wrong, he had not allowed for evaporation and that the engineering techniques necessary were not available.
Yet Dr. Bradfield's scheme was not the first plan to divert the rivers inland. In 1887 the Royal Geographical Society put up a similar idea, but Dr. Bradfield's was the most famous.
It received a boost in 1945 when an engineering report to the Commonwealth Rural Reconstruction Commission said some points were feasible but further technical investigation was needed on others.
About the same time author Ion Idriess published a book, The Great Boomerang, in which he proposed Queensland rivers be diverted into Lake Eyre and other dry lake beds in South Australia's north east.
The Bradfield Scheme is currently estimated at approximately $3.5 billion. But this Scheme, first suggested more than a century ago, is just as vital NOW for the economy and the future growth of Australia's agricultural and livestock industries, as well as Queensland's energy and mining industries.
The Bradfield Scheme will provide in excess of 100,000 jobs over the life of the project, estimated at 15 years, reducing Queensland's unemployment by at least 60%.
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© Written and Authorised by Selwyn Johnston, Cairns FNQ 4870