"In the beginning"


The views expressed in this blog are not necessarily the views of the blog management, (on the other hand, they are not necessarily not the views of the blog management).

No effort has been made to stay within the bounds of the truth in this blog as it has always been the view of the management that the truth should never be allowed to stand in the way of a good story.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Humpty Doo.

Growing Rice in the NT.

I did some more research on the Art Linkletter story and came up with some
slight variation on the rice growing at Humpty Doo.

It seems that Art was a guest at a dinner in New York in 1954 hosted by the
Australian Federal Treasurer, a gentleman named Harold Holt, some 10 years
later Harold Holt was to become Prime Minister of Australia.

His story ended in tragedy, he drowned while swimming in wild surf on
Cheviot Beach in Victoria in December 1967, he was Prime Minister at the
time, (I used to claim Harold as an uncle when people asked if we were related,
but as time wore on that lost it’s impact so I reverted back to the truth,
“no, no relation.”)

Before his untimely death Harold Holt had agreed to write the foreword to
"Linkletter Down Under" instead it was dedicated to his memory by Art.

Anyhoo, also at this dinner that I mentioned were Allen Chase, of Chase
Manhattan Bank, Charles Correll, Andy - of Amos and Andy fame, Actor
Robert Cummings, and others, including Linkletter.

It was Allen Chase who suggested they form a syndicate to take up land in the
NT of Australia, these 4 were eventually joined by 7 more wealthy investors
and the adventure began.

This had been sold to them brilliantly by Harold Holt, who spoke so
enthusiastically about the possibilities and promised Government assistance to
the tune of free title to the land, in return they had to develop the land, install
water storage dams and levee banks and roadways.

They employed a large team of experts to assess the scheme, all agreed that it
was viable so the papers were drawn up and Humpty Doo was away.

Work was well under way with a test area of 200 acres plated out, they had
installed levees to cope with the 65 Inch rainfall that fell over the 3 month Wet
season, their calculations had not allowed for 15 Inches of rain in 2 days
however so found their levee’s, roadways, and rice crop deep under water, all
was not lost as some 10 acres of rice survived and both yield and quality were

During the next Dry season they worked furiously at upgrading the
infrastructure and planting out 10.000 acres of rice, the next Wet season came
along and dumped rain to an average depth of 5 feet over the cultivated land
instead of the expected few inches.

Only a bout 200 acres survived this onslaught, but again they were delighted
with the crop that had survived the flood, however they returned to find a huge
herd of Water Buffalo had discovered the crop and made short work of it.

At about this time Allen Chase decided that what was needed was some fresh
venture capital so he went looking for a new partner for the syndicate. he
found Robert McCullough, of McCullough Chainsaw fame.

McCullough, who was seriously wealthy, was so enamored with the scheme
that he bought out the existing partners, thus freeing them up to make other
investments within Australia, Chase and Linkletter chose to go to WA.

Even though the enemies were now known, (although the full impact of the
Magpie Geese was still to come), sadly McCullough was no more successful
than the others had been and gave up after several more failures.

The River flats they were working had been collecting soil from the
surrounding hills and countryside during floods over perhaps millions of years,
it has been compared to the Nile Delta for soil quality and the average depth
of good soil is 20/30 feet, but at this stage no one has been able to tame it,
maybe they never will?


Cliff Morrow said...

There are short term storms we can do nothing about, but true devastation is caused by too much water. I read once that the ten worst catastophies (measured by loss of life and property) were all floods.
Mankind thinks they can control nature,,,but never will.
I suppose Art learned that eventually.

Big Dave T said...

When I was a kid, and we would study Australia in Geography, the only thing that I remember making an impression on me was the number of venomous snakes they had down under.

I didn't even know Australia had water buffalo.

Merle said...

Hi Peter ~~ You have been working hard
finding all these facts. I hadn't heard about the rice growing in the Territory,
but knew Linkletter had farmed in Esperance. Some good friends of mine had
too, growing wheat and lots of sheep.
Yes the weeks do fly by ~ we can nearly see our lives going by. Isn't it good
that footy is back. I CAN mention it this week. Cheers, Merle.

Jacqui said...

Thanks for the encouragement again Peter, as you will see I have managed to post some photos, I tried so many times till eventually it paid off.

The "Linkletter" stories are great, we used to love watching him, in the old days.

LZ Blogger said...

Peter - Thanks for clearing up the REST of the story! ~ jb///