Finding the lost Simpson Wells

By Bill Collyer

Prior to European arrival, a small group of aborigines called the Wangkangurru deemed the Simpson Desert home. They had established a series of semi-permanent shallow wells which provided water sufficient for the few families. These wells were more like underground tanks formed by depressions in the impervious gypsum layers that were the bottom of old salt lakes. These depressions filled with sand and trapped the water that drained into them, the sand then prevented the evaporation of the water. These wells (“tanks”) were usually quite shallow, not more than two or three metres deep, and the water was accessed by a small sloping tunnel...

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