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Windorah, aboriginal for “Big Fish”, dubs itself the ‘heart of the channel country’ and is a deceivingly fertile place in water and out. At the junction of the Thomas and Barcoo, two rivers form a creek; Cooper’s Creek, which is the lifeblood of the channel country and part of an ancient link between the Flinders Ranges and The Gulf of Carpentaria. Unlike all of the other towns we have visited, flooding is welcomed and in fact depended on in the town, which sits just out of the flood zone. It’s not all water sports though, Windorah gets seriously hot so buildings historically had large ventilated roof cavities, shaded verandahs, a second fly roof along with pisé walls. Now with air-con, these principles are seemingly lost. Pisé was once common throughout south-west Queensland, now, it’s hard to find. There was one last standing pisé house in Windorah that was noticeably cooler than the other dwellings.
If you compare and analyse different houses from a place, what do the differences show?
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A case study in how to plan a town not to flood! Windroah's architecture also has some cracking lessons on how to stay cool. CLICK ON THE IMAGE for the full hand drawn exhibition.
• Traditional owners = Mithaka people
• Channel Country biogeographic region
• Mean annual Temps; H - 30.5 L - 15.8
• Mean annual rainfall; 291mm
• Population; 115
• Elevation 126 m
• ‘Pise’, is an earth construction method used here from local materials, such as hard clay from anthills. Farmers told us gelatin derived from boiling hooves and horns binds the mixture together to form a solid earth wall. boiling oil is soaked into the walls to seal them
Windorah is on the banks of the Coopers Creek, this is the lifeblood of this area providing nutrient rich alluvial plains for humans and animals alike.
Bobbie found a crusty abandoned yabbie net in the river, sewed it back together with dental floss and caught us some dinner. This is a momento.
Bobbie barefoot sewing a yabbie trap back together with dental floss.
Many locals use the Cooper as a spot for fishing or recreation. The local officer does both and uses his kayak to travel to his favourite yabbie spots
There are permanent water holes along the cooper but it doesn’t always flow. Although when it does it can spread out to be kilometers wide.
This is the old jail cell in Windorah, typical of remote country town cells. The small windows and low light in the cell has preserved the ceiling timbers beautifully.
This is a building type particular to Windorah, the completely meshed in picnic area, for protection from flies and moths.
Fly screens don’t always work. Maintenance is sexy.
We presented at the Info centre in town. The Windorah public school even made a specialty trip down to see our display.
As we rode further west, the landscape became more and more barren. We were getting close to some deserts.
The western awning on the Betoota hotel dips low to protect the stone walls from the sun and rain. This also provides space for a sleep out on hot nights so you can get a breeze across your body.
Notice the low awnings and plenty of shading over almost everything. Crucial to keep a high thermal mass building cool.
Now into the flat country as they call it. At the time it didn’t feel flat. Nothing does on a bike but in retrospect it was quite level.
Birdsville, our next stop. Only 360kms to go. This would take us about 5-6 days on these roads.