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Welcome back, windmill — Donald’s biggest fan

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Monday, September 18, saw the Webb windmill restored to its former location at Apex Park.

The completion of a near-on 20-year project, funded by Donald 2000, involved the use of a crane from West Cranes, Stawell, and the erection drew the attention of many locals and visitors alike to the popular park and camping site at Donald.

Donald Steelworkers, Ben Pearse and Keith Brusnahan, worked at height as the crane lowered the 6m fan and its assembly, weighing approximately 750 awkward kilograms, on to its 12-metre tall tower. “Threading the needle”, if you will, the shaft at the base of the fan had to be dropped through two holes of the standing frame before the base of the turntable could be bolted into place.

Once secured in its former resting place, the decommissioned windmill can now serve its purpose as an item of interest to locals and visitors, as well as keeping some history of the town alive.

Donald’s windmills

The Webb windmill was first erected at Apex Park in 2002 to represent one of the three original windmills supplying the township with water until they were fazed out in the 1930s.

When tested in 1930-’31, it was found that each windmill pumped a monthly average of 408,000 gallons (1.8 megalitres) of water. Their total contribution was 40% of Donald’s then needs.

When electric motors replaced the three windmills, they were relocated to “Glengar”, where no traces of them remain. It was, however, from the same property that the Webb windmill was relocated, after having been decommissioned by a wind storm and donated by Peter and Pam Rollinson.

The Webb windmill was originally repaired and rebuilt with the help of Donald Steel and Dunstan Engineering, to be first erected at Apex Park in 2002, that time using Harberger’s crane for the operation. Unfortunately, the bearings failed within a couple of years and it had to be brought down again.

Donald 2000’s Ian Green initiated the windmill’s restoration for the second time, spending countless hours in the repair and reassembling the fan, and after nearly 20 years since it last sat perched above the park, Ian was present on Monday to see it restored to its former location.

John McConville, chairman of Donald 2000 and owner/ proprietor of Donald Steel, said, “I’m very happy to see the windmill back where it was intended. I’m very grateful to the community for the time and labour volunteered. I’m also very proud of my working crew for their skills in executing such a mammoth task. Well done to all involved.”

The Buloke Times 26 September 2023

This article appeared in The Buloke Times, 26 September 2023.

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