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Farm ploughs were used for farming the Murray Mallee region

At the various museums along the Murray River such as Pioneer Settlement, Swan Hill there are numerous examples of the various types of farming equipment used in the Mallee and Murray River districts. Possibly the most common exhibit is the famous horse-drawn, hand-controlled mouldboard plough. Many of them are rusting away in hidden corners, but these humble pieces of equipment, together with the horses which pulled them and men who used them, were responsible for opening-up much of the river country. Inventions such as the Stump-jump-plough utilised the mouldboard concept and adapted it to suit different farming conditions. Further refinements were added and with the adoption of steam traction engines and the smaller more powerful internal combustion tractors, ploughs became larger and more sophisticated, culminating in the giants we have today.

Stump Jump PloughPossibly one of Australia’s best-known inventions is the Stump-jump-plough. Invented by Robert Bowyer Smith in 1876, a selector from Yorke Peninsula in South Australia, it facilitated the opening up of much of the mallee country of Victoria and South Australia. In its simplest form, the body containing the mouldboard was hinged to the frame. When the mouldboard hit an obstacle, such as a mallee stump,  the body would hinge upwards, lift the mouldboard out of the ground so it would slide over or ‘jump’ the obstacle.  The body and mouldboard then dropped back into position aided by its own weight and the  forward movement of the plough. The general principle was applied to ploughs containing a number of moulboards. Further refinements added counterbalances and pressure springs.


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