There are a large number of artesian bores in the far north of South Australia. Along the Birdsville Track Mirra Mitta bore is closest to the road. Hot water gushes from it at almost boiling point and must run for twenty or more kilometres before it is cool enough for stock to drink.
In the early part of the twentieth century huge numbers of artesian bores were drilled to tap the water of the artesian basin, resulting in a peak discharge of 2055 mega litres per day in 1914. It is estimated that more than 4,500 bores have been sunk across the basin.
The recharge capacity of the basin is estimated to be about 3500 mega litres per day but the local water table is lower today than a hundred years ago. The Government drilled many bores along the Birdsville Track in the early 20th century to assist the movement of stock south from Queensland to the Marree railway head.
Pastoralists traditionally dug drains for many kilometres away from the bores to water their cattle. Whilst this method is still used, it is considered wasteful as only a very small proportion of the water is utilised. They are now using polythene pipes to distribute water to different areas of their properties, while some stations have used the water for the generation of electricity.
As early as 1900 an effort was made to put down a government bore tapping the artesian water at Mirra Mitta. They soon reached a depth of 1000 feet and by September of that year they were down 2,300 feet. Due to the drought work was stopped in October but restarted the next year. The deepest point reached was nearly 3,500 feet.
The flow of water was incredible with a daily outpouring of 470,000 gallons. The nearby Mungerannie bore produced some 600,000 gallons a day and Dulcaninna more than a million each and every day. The temperature of the water at Mirra Mitta was 176 degrees Fahrenheit while in January 1902 it had gone up to 190 degrees, which is almost boiling point. Unfortunately the water wasnít all that good for human consumption as it was highly mineralised but it was good enough for sheep, rangeland cattle grazing and agricultural use.
During April 1903 Frank Booth had the mail contract on the Birdsville Track. That same year a Post Office opened at Mirra Mitta making it a little easier for station folk and the many drovers to communicate with the outside world, that is if it wasnít too hot, too wet or the place flooded for weeks at the time.
In December 1903 a lease was sold for land at the Mirra Mitta bore for agricultural purposes. Nature was kind and in January 1904 heavy rains fell at Mirra Mitta where the rain gauge recorded 3 inches. In October 1906 Surveyor General received a box of vegetables from A Higginbotham who had grown them at Mirra Mitta bore. He had a Ďsplendid garden all year roundí growing tomatoes, beet and turnips as well as fruit trees which were thriving.
Rain feel once again in February 1907 when 3Ĺ inches came down causing much flooding and the Post Office out of business. During June another 4 inches were recorded. That same month, on 17 June, Jessie Emily Ann Schluter, wife of John, died at Mirra Mitta.
Rain was needed but during the first decade there was often too much. In March 1908 there were heavy floods in the north. Mirra Mitta got 7Ĺ inches, and again no mail services for the foreseeable future. Still Higginbotham remained at his garden. By the end of the year Abdul Kaderís camel team was able to deliver 4 ton of wool from Mirra Mitta and 3 tons from Birdsville to the Marree railhead.
During October 1909 horses from Mirra Mitta were sold at Kidmanís Kapunda Horse Sales. Early in 1910 some good rainfalls were recorded in the north. But to secure a more permanent water supply, a new bore was started at in August 1911 and soon reached a depth of 1400 feet, much to the satisfaction of James Jardine who operated the local store and A Higginbotham.
Little rain fell during 1913 and in September Thomas Gree, age 32 and originally from Bolton, Lancashire died of thirst while on his way to Mirra Mitta. His body was found 16 days later by Mounted Constable George Aiston. Drought or flood, the Droverís store remained open.
More floods were devastating the country and in March 1916 floods in the far north were wide-spread. Heavy rains at Mirra Mitta caused the mails to be delayed once again. When the weather returned to its normal hot and dry state a very successful race meeting was organised at Mirra Mitta on 28 September 1917. They were enjoyed by all and repeated a year later.
In 1919 James Jardine, husband of Saline Jane Jardine, drover and store keeper at Mirra Mitta died on 27 July. He was the son in law of Solomon Lewis Williams of Grange Road Kilkenny, aged 56 leaving one son. In March 1925 George J Morley became the proud owner of a new car, a Ford, registration number 42921. On 4 March 1925 he was married at the residence of Mr EL Williams of Williams Street York, by the Rev H Lee, to Selina J Jardine of Mirra Mitta, fourth daughter of Solomon Lewis Williams, JP and the late SE Williams of Grange Road York.
They remained at Mirra Mitta, experiencing the drought and floods. In September 1925 Mirra Mitta was closed down as a result of the continuous drought. Through it all Mrs Morley stayed put and in 1934 was still there. In June 1935 Patricia, daughter of Mrs and the late GD Watt of Adelaide was engaged to Jack only son of Mrs Morley and the late Mr J Jardine.
Things became now very quiet in the Morley household but Mrs Morley continued operating the store for the cattle drovers, her only company a young girl. During 1936 George Morley an ex-Kidman drover and owner of Cowarie Station, sold this property to Claude Oldfield in 1940.
In June of 1936 the Adelaide newspaper carried this announcement; On 24 June 1936 at St Johnís Church Adelaide, by the Rev E Wyllie, Patricia (Pat), second daughter of Mrs and the late Mr GD Watt of Adelaide, and granddaughter of Major JA Watt, DSO, VD and Mrs Watt of Norwood, to Lewis Jack only child of Mrs SJ Morley of Cowarie Station and the late Mr James Jardine of Mirra Mitta and grandson of the late SL Williams of Grange Road York. Present address Mirra Mitta.
The store remained operating. On 25 December 1937 Pat had a daughter at Memorial Hospital. In 1938 George John Morley, drover and Selina Jane Morley home duties, were still at Mirra Mitta.
Mirra Mitta Lone Grave.