Psyche Bend Pump Station - Mildura's Chaffey Trail
Psyche Bend Pump Station
Psyche Bend Pump Station was built in 1891 by the Chaffey brothers to meet the needs of the irrigation settlement. Five years earlier, George Chaffey had selected Mildura as the site for an irrigation development because of its large tracts of Crown land, climate, soil types and proximity to two major rivers, the Murray and Darling.
The need to raise water from the Murray to land approximately 28 metres above river level challenged George Chaffey to design his 'billabong system', which elevated water in four lifts by pumping water from the Murray River into Kings Billabong and then lifting water via a number of pumps. The system supplied an area of approximately 20,000 hectares and was the first stage of a grand scheme to irrigate over 100,000 hectares around Mildura.
George Chaffey's solution was to design a triple-expansion steam engine coupled to centrifugal pumps. Tangye's of Birmingham, who manufactured the equipment, at first refused to build the engine and then only manufactured it under duress on the proviso that the name plate 'Chaffey's improved Pumping Engine made by Tangyes for Mildura Irrigation Colony' was fixed to the engine. This was in case the engine failed and they were deemed liable for the failure.
The Chaffey steam engine and pumps at Psyche Bend operated successfully until 1959, when electric pumps were installed nearby and the pumping station decommissioned. The original pump house still stands today but the above-ground assets, including two boiler houses, were moved and the boilers sold for scrap.
Did you know?
- The engine and pumps were delivered in pieces from England and came by river from Echuca
- During the 1956 flood the water would have been above your head (see the flood marker adjacent to this sign)
- The infamous 'Smuggler of Psyche Bend' carried whiskey across the Murray in a small boat from New South Wales during Mildura's temperance years.
What is here today!
In 1983 the Committee of Management of the Psyche Bend Pumping Station decided to restore the historic engine and pumps. Five years later they enlisted the assistance of a number of groups and individuals, primarily the Sunraysia Steam Preservation Society, and restored the pumps over seven years.
The Psyche Bend Pumping Station building is the oldest pump configuration of its type in the world and is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register. The building was constructed using hand-made bricks with clay sourced from the site adjacent to the pumping station.
An archaeological assessment of the site revealed the foundations of the original boiler house, circa 1891. The current boiler house was constructed on the site of the 1917 boiler house and is as close as possible in size and shape to the original boiler house.
An unused N-Class locomotive boiler manufactured by the Victorian Railways in 1951 was donated by the Mildura Lions club. Psyche Bend engine and pumps were re-commissioned on 11 October 1995, powered by steam from this boiler. The steam-powered pump now operates during school holidays and on some public holidays and special occasions.
The Psyche Bend Pumps is open Tuesday and Thursdays from 1-4pm and Sunday 10.30am - 12.30pm Costs: $3 Adult, Family $8 (2 adults & children) Its running days include New Years Day, Easter Sunday, Queen’s Birthday Weekend (Sunday) and middle Sunday during Victorian School Holidays during July and September. Costs: $4 Adult, Family $10 (2 adults & children). Special arrangements can be made for major events/conferencing. Psyche Bend Road.
Telephone 03 5024 5637
(GPS Co-ordinates X=612,395 Y=6,211,610)
1. The Old Mildura Station Homestead ♦ 2. Mildura Homestead Cemetery ♦ 3. Rio Vista Historic House
4. Lock 11 & Mildura Weir ♦ 5. Mildura Wharf ♦ 6. Mildura Grand Hotel ♦ 7. Psyche Bend Pump Station ♦ 8. Chateau Mildura ♦ 9. Merbein
10. Further Links of the Chaffey Story ♦ The Chaffey Trail ♦ The Chaffey Trail Map
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