This is the fifth in a series of pictures portraying classical aspects of Outback scenery.
Windmills are a common sight in rural and Outback parts of Australia, converting wind energy into the reciprocating strokes of raising and lowering a rod which works a pump to raise water from under the ground.
The term “windmill” originally referred to a machine using the wind to operate a “mill” to grind grain. The Australian windmill is thus sometimes referred to more accurately as a “windpump”.
The “tail” of the windmill has the function of pointing the “rotor” into the wind, thus ensuring maximum efficiency. However, by “furling” the tail, ie. pulling it around next to the rotor, the windmill is effectively turned off. (This can be important in high winds, to avoid the windmill damaging itself by operating at excessive speed.)
Two of the most common brands of windmill seen in Australia over the years have been Southern Cross and Comet.
The use of electric pumps to replace windmills has become increasingly common, especially when the electricity is supplied by solar panels. However, it’s still hard to beat the efficiency of a good windmill, which with very little maintenance can work effectively for at least 50 years (although one pastoralist has told me that the cost of OH&S regulations on windmill maintenance is threatening to make windmills uneconomical. It seems you can no longer tell young Bill to climb up the windmill unless he’s got a certificate in windmill climbing or some such silly thing.)