Wheat off to market: a purpose-built wagon
In this photo, a load of wheat, drawn by 17 horses, arrives at Narromine Railway Station in central-western NSW.
Large tabletop wagons were first built in Australia in the 1890s in response to an increase in wool production and improvements in roads. They were designed to transport wheat or wool to the nearest railway and could carry up to 20 tonnes.
Many NSW farmers stopped sowing wheat crops in 2002 due to the drought.
As the climate changes, the areas where wheat can be grown will also change throughout Australia.
- What are the environmental and economic impacts of drought?
- What are the social impacts of drought?
- Where is wheat grown in Australia today?
- Is it an irrigated or dryland crop?
Discharging wool at Bourke: river transport linked with rail
Paddle-steamers once worked their way up and down more than 6500km of the Murray, Darling and Murrumbidgee rivers.
They carried stores, passengers and wool, allowing settlements to expand along the rivers. Transport costs were far less than overland rates. Wool unloaded in Bourke was transferred onto trains heading for Sydney.
Today much of the river water is diverted to irrigate cotton, rice and other crops.
Even when we are not in drought, there is seldom enough water in any of the rivers to support a paddle-steamer’s passage.
- How did Indigenous people use the waterways before European settlers arrived?
- How have humans changed the Darling River?
- What was the fuel used in the paddle-steamers?
- How did the paddle-steamers affect the environment along the rivers?
Katoomba railway: changing the focus of a town
Katoomba railway platform, pictured here, opened in 1874.
It was originally called The Crushers, and serviced the settlement around a quarry and rock-crushing plant established in 1860. Kerosene shale and coal were also mined in the Blue Mountains, near Katoomba, until 1933.
The settlement changed when the railway came. Trains brought holidaymakers, bushwalkers and visitors who could not get there any other way.
The area blossomed into a tourist destination and health resort during World War I. It remains so to this day.
- Why do people need transport?
- How might a lack of public transport limit people’s lives?
- How do people travel to the Blue Mountains today?
- Do you see any environmental problems in this photo?
A camel train: beasts of burden in hot dry areas
Camels were introduced to Australia in 1840. They were a reliable form of transport in dry inland areas of the country.
A camel train is shown here carrying goods along the Wanaaring Road, north-west of Bourke, NSW.
Many camels were released into the wild in the mid 1920s when railways and trucks became widely used for freight transport. Aerial surveys indicate that there are currently more than 600,000 feral camels in arid and semi-arid areas of the country.
Australia now exports live camels and camel meat to the world.
- Are camels suited to a wet or dry environment?
- What damage can camels do to an environment?
- What other animals can you think of that have been introduced to Australia?
- What problems have they caused?
A wool team taking wool to market
A century ago the journey to market was often long, difficult and expensive.
From western NSW, it could take between three and nine months to deliver wool to a main port then return home again with supplies. The effort involved must have weighed heavily against the value of a good wool clip.
Many graziers used bullock teams because they were stronger than horses over rough terrain.
When railways opened throughout NSW in the late 1800s, it became very much faster and easier to send wool and other produce to market.
- How has the way wool is transported changed in the last 100 years?
- What impact has this had on the environment?
- How important was wool to the Australian economy in 1900?
- What happened to wool once it reached large ports?
The modern Australian shearer adopting a new form of transport
The bicycle became a popular form of transport in the early 1890s.
On a bicycle you could travel three times faster than on foot, and carry a lot of luggage.
It was an efficient way to travel around inland NSW, and greatly improved the lives of shearers who used to walk vast distances between sheds.
Bicycles were cheaper and more convenient than cars, and remained a primary form of transport for shearers, miners, commercial travellers and business people until the 1940s.
- List all the different forms of transport you or your family could use to get to school or work.
- Which one creates the least pollution?
- Which one is the fastest?
- Which ones benefit your health? Why?