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99/97/1 Water meter, Dethridge wheel, steel, used by Murrumbidgee Irrigation Pty Ltd, Australia, 1990. Click to enlarge.

Dethridge wheel, irrigation water meter

In 1910 John Dethridge created a wheel that could measure the amount of water flowing past it in a channel. This Australian innovation made it possible to monitor the volume of water flowing from a river to an individual farm. It was an important innovation in the development of the irrigation districts along the rivers of the Murray Darling Basin during the first half of the 20th Century. When farmers settled along NSW rivers, the government gave them rights to extract river water for their …


Object No.


Object Statement

Water meter, Dethridge wheel, steel, used by Murrumbidgee Irrigation Pty Ltd, Australia, 1990

Physical Description

The wheel consists of a drum around an axle with 4 spokes originating from each end of the axle. Eight v-shaped vanes are fixed to the outside of the drum. Some of them are bent on the edges, as a result of use. Shaft on which wheel turns is broken at one end.



610 mm



  • 1910


The original Dethridge wheel was designed by John Dethridge in 1910.

This particular Dethridge wheel was made in Griffith NSW from parts that were fabricated in Leeton, NSW. This wheel was made in 1990. The life of a wheel is generally 15 to 20 years. Normally the axle is replaced every 5 years.



In 1910 John Dethridge, a Victorian water supply engineer, developed the Dethridge wheel. Since then the wheels have been used extensively in the irrigation areas of NSW and Victoria. They are gradually being replaced by electronic meters but they are still the most efficient meters to use if waterways are weedy.

This wheel was used on a horticultural farm near Griffith, NSW. Murrumbidgee Irrigation Ltd replaced the wheel with an electronic water meter on the farm.


Credit Line

Gift of Murrumbidgee Irrigation Pty Ltd

Acquisition Date

26 August 1999

Cite this Object


Dethridge wheel, irrigation water meter 2021, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 25 June 2022, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Dethridge wheel, irrigation water meter |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=25 June 2022 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}