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Super Sopper water removal system

Made by Kuranda Manufacturing in Taree, New South Wales, 1974.

This Super Sopper is an example of an Australian innovation which soaks up excess water from sporting fields and courts. Comprising simple technology, it was developed by a Sydney inventor and has been successful in Australia and internationally. Super Soppers, in a range of sizes, have become part of the sporting culture of Australia and many other countries. Their use means that outdoor games can be played after soaking rain that would otherwise have made grounds and courts unusable. Owners of...


Water removal system , 'Super Sopper', galvanised iron/ electroplated zinc/ polyurethane foam, invented by Gordon Withnall, developed and manufactured by Kuranda Manufacturing, Taree, Australia, 2001

The main part of the device is a bright yellow perforated metal cylindrical roller, axis horizontal, 375 mm diameter and 600 mm wide, with its curved surface covered by a yellow foam rubber pad. A second smaller metal cylinder sits on top of the foam-covered roller. The foam roller has two rubber wheels on either side of the base and is controlled by the yellow metal handle. As the roller is pushed along a wet surface the foam pad soaks up the moisture. The smaller cylinder squeezes the water from the foam through the perforated metal into a metal storage tank inside the roller. The storage tank can hold 18 L of water and is emptied using gravity through the outlet on the side axis of the roller. The distance between the foam roller and the smaller metal cylinder is adjustable. When pushing the roller, the handle is lifted so that the wheels do not touch the ground. When in storage, the handle is placed on the floor and the wheels support the foam roller so it is raised above the ground. Clear plastic packaging film is wrapped around the foam roller.


450 mm
1055 mm
810 mm


This Super Sopper was manufactured by Kuranda Manufacturing in Taree, NSW, 2001.

The Super Sopper was invented by Gordon Withnall in Padstow, Sydney in 1974. Gordon was born in 1919 and began inventing at the age of 7. By 2001 he had produced 26 inventions, of which 24 made it to market and made money. His other inventions included an automatic poultry feeder and the first rotary lawnmower with a grass catcher.

This 'Minnow' model is similar to, but slightly smaller than, the first model developed by Gordon with the assistance of his son Len Withnall. It is the smallest model in the range of Super Soppers designed and produced by Kuranda Manufacturing.

Gordon's inspiration for the invention of the Super Sopper came during a game of golf at Liverpool Golf Course. When the ball landed in a puddle his friend suggested that he invent a machine to remove the puddles. By the time they had reached the next green, Gordon had thought out the basic idea for the machine. The next day, he recruited his son Len to help make the machine. Within three days of coming up with the idea, they had created the first Super Sopper.

The technology of the Super Sopper is simple. A foam pad fitted to a perforated metal drum soaks up water and squeezes it into an internal storage tank. The water can then be carried away and emptied into a drain. The innovative part of the system was to use the perforated roller and storage tank to carry water away. Gordon obtained an Australian patent for the device but decided that an international patent was too expensive. Consequently in later years there were some imitation machines manufactured in other countries.

In 1974, the machine featured on the ABC TV show called 'The Inventors'. This publicity stimulated initial sales of the machine to schools, councils, tennis courts and cricket clubs. From then on, marketing for the machine was most successful by word of mouth.

In 1979 the Secretary of the Melbourne Cricket Ground Trust, Ian Johnson, approached Gordon to make a larger machine for use on the cricket ground. Gordon met with the challenge and developed the first 'Whale', a motorised machine with two-metre long rollers. The successful demonstration of the 'Whale' at the MCG stimulated purchases by football clubs and racecourses all over Australia. At the same time Harry Brind, curator of The Oval in London, arranged a demonstration of the 'Whale' Super Sopper at the MCG. He was so impressed that he ordered one to take back to England. This first export sale soon led to Lords and Canterbury cricket grounds each buying a Whale. Cricket playing countries saw how effective the machines were and soon there was at least one 'Whale' at every ground. For many years one of the largest markets for Super Soppers was in Japan, where six hundred a year were sold.

In 1995, Gordon sold his land at Padstow and his son Len moved the business to Taree. By the end of the century most sales and marketing were performed through the Internet. The biggest selling model was the 'Sandpiper', the model closest in size to the original invented in 1974. Over 120 'Whale' Super Soppers had been sold in more than 10 different countries. The company continued its philosophy of making quality products that last.
Kuranda Manufacturing 1974
Withnall, Gordon


Gift of Kuranda Manufacturing
30 August, 2001

Cite this Object

Super Sopper water removal system 2017, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 19 November 2017, <>
{{cite web |url= |title=Super Sopper water removal system |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=19 November 2017 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

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