Albury's water wheel in motion for Mitta Valley homecoming

ALBURY’S derelict water wheel could be headed back to its former home in the Mitta Valley.

A potential saviour has emerged in the Mitta Valley Historical Society, which is proposing to relocate the wheel to near Eskdale’s information centre.

Talks are under way between Albury and Towong councils and the historical society about the 11th hour rescue mission.

It was transported from nearby Tallandoon in the late 1960s to Australia Park in Albury.

Historical society president Marcus Ellis said yesterday the water wheel could create a strong link to the area’s gold mining heritage dating back to the 1800s.

“It has more significance up here than in Albury,” he said.

“It’s an old wheel and it would be a pity to see it just scrapped.

“We couldn’t let that happen and I think we are the only ones who have shown a real interest.

“If we can get it we will dedicate it to the early settlers and miners of the Mitta Valley.”

Mr Ellis revealed his grandfather Samuel Ellis — a wheelwright and blacksmith — was a former owner of the water wheel.

He said the wheel had its origins in the Beechworth area.

Late last year Albury Council baulked at a series of options which would have kept the water wheel in Albury.

They included spending $90,000 on returning the wheel to working order or incorporating the wheel into a piece of public art work at a cost estimated at more than $70,000.

The council has identified a tentative budget of $20,000 for its removal locally.

Discussions between the historical society and Towong Council have also been ongoing.

Cr Aaron Scales said the council had not made any funding commitments.

“The restoration and ongoing maintenance are issues still to be worked through,” he said.

“But I’ve got personal confidence in the group to deliver.”

The wheel hasn’t operated since 2001.

It was donated to the Albury Historical Society by the late David Beer and installed in Australia Park as a symbol of the district’s pioneer miners.

Albury mayor Kevin Mack last night said talks were ongoing.

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