FOSSICKING TREASURES: John Walsh from the Lake Maraboon Holiday Village is passionate about the area’s history.
FOSSICKING TREASURES: John Walsh from the Lake Maraboon Holiday Village is passionate about the area’s history.

Treasure trove beneath the water

SOME tend to find brighter sides to dire situations.

The Fairbairn Dam is at its lowest level since it was built in 1972, but one longtime resident is passionate about discovering small pieces of history.

Lake Maraboon Holiday Village founder John Walsh has watched water levels fluctuate for decades. He said the water's recession was revealing previously unseen riches from the dam.

"This is a whole new era for the lake," he said. "It's never been at this level, as we all know.

"But people scavenge things, clean them up. There's 700km of shoreline."

Mr Walsh has stumbled across several old treasures recently, including fossils and 40-year-old bottles washed ashore.

 

 

A fossilised shell and other treasures found in the Fairbairn Dam.
A fossilised shell and other treasures found in the Fairbairn Dam.

 

He recalled one memorable discovery during a previous drought years ago.

"It was just down here in the bay. We were swimming down there and someone stood on the roof of a car. We had a better look and then we realised it was a whole Nissan Patrol and a trailer hooked on," he said.

"That used to be the old ramp. Obviously he left the handbrake off and it rolled in, and when he came back it was gone. That was in there for nearly eight years."

Mr Walsh said there was an added benefit to increasing the number of fossicking folk at the lake.

"This will clean the bottom of the lake as well, and they'll get something out of it," he said.

"You could spend a whole day out there."

And the chances of something else valuable or interesting emerging from the deep are higher because of the water shortage.

"There's everything out there," Mr Walsh said. "Everything that's dropped overboard over the years is all starting to show up. What an opportunity to have a look at our history."

Becoming part of that history is what Mr Walsh finds most rewarding.

"I want to leave Emerald with something really good. This will be here forever, this park," he said.

"We get people come year after year and when they roll up they say, 'we're home'."


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