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Founder of Condamine Drilling, Arthur Gebbett, immigrated to Australia with his wife, Pam and young family from England in 1967, having spent the previous twenty years working in remote Nigeria drilling water wells for isolated communities. His experience in drilling and constructing water wells in the unconsolidated ground formations of West Africa had equipped Arthur with the expertise to introduce rotary mud flush drilling methods to the Darling Downs. Until that time bores here had been drilled with traditional cable tool methods which proved a time consuming exercise and one which did not allow any quantification of the potential yield of the alluvium.
Occupying modest premises in Laurel Street, Toowoomba, the firm was established in 1969 borrowing the name of the Condamine River around which the irrigators of the Darling Downs were established. The outfit grew steadily as its reputation for excellent workmanship and exceptional value spread around the Downs and beyond until producers in the Moree and Wee Waa districts of New South Wales became regular clients. In 1982 Arthur purpose built a workshop in the Industrial Estate on the outskirts of Toowoomba and the irrigation pumps division of the Company came into its own.
The workshop equipment and personnel allowed proficient repairs and manufacture of turbines and column and shaft for line shaft pumps as well as supplying and installing electric submersible units. Whilst drilling remained the backbone of the enterprise, the pump division clearly identified a new market need and the company’s two purpose- built pump servicing rigs have been struggling to keep up with demand ever since. The specialised crew and equipment are engaged for bore rehabilitation and repair, pump testing and the chemical treatment of bacterial contaminations in underground water supplies.
In 2009 the Company took a slightly new direction. Arthur stepped back from the day to day operation of the organisation and his son Ian (who had worked for Condamine Drilling as a fitter and turner and pump technician and manager for the previous 25 years) took over the business. Having outgrown the Industrial Avenue premises, the outfit moved nearby to a larger block and buildings in Boundary Street.
Since then, particularly, the machine shop has expanded and diversified to house one of the most comprehensive and versatile workshops in the region. Equipped with a CNC machining centre, horizontal borer, water jet cutting machine, computerised and manual lathes and certified welding competencies ensures the plant delivers engineering modifications and sophisticated fabricating projects to excellent standards, locally and internationally.
A recent addition to Condamine Drilling’s suite of services is the adoption of an agency for Reinke Irrigation, providing pivot or lateral units directly from Nebraska, USA. This project completes the Company’s delivery of groundwater from the drilling of the first test hole to crop irrigation.