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Portable cabin made from a water tank, used on geological surveys by Dr John and Roma Dulhunty, who called it the 'Hollow Log'

1999.0019.0003

Portable cabin made from a water tank, used on geological surveys by Dr John and Roma Dulhunty, who called it the 'Hollow Log'

Object information

Physical description

Cylindrical white-painted corrugated galvanised iron water tank turned on its side and adapted for use as a mobile shelter or caravan. The tank is mounted on two wooden rails to facilitate it being slid onto the tray of a Toyota four-wheel drive. Two single lengths of chain are threaded through clear plastic tubing, and laid in the grooves of the corrugation over the top of tank. One is a quarter of the way along the tank from the front and the other about a quarter of the way along the tank from the back. Fittings on the ends of the chain are used to attach them to the side of a vehicle's tray and brace the tank to it. A 13.5 litre water tank is mounted to the outside of the circular front wall. It is on the top half and it has pipes leading to the inside. Next to it is an almost square clear plastic window. The circular back wall has a rectangular full-height wooden door in the middle of it and it is painted light brown. It has a clear plastic window in its top half, a t-shaped metal handle, and a small curved visor over it that is attached to the tank. A grab rail is attached vertically to the wall alongside the door's lower left side. A chimney from the cooking area inside protrudes from the wall high up on the left side. An electrical extension cable with socket plug comes through a hole on the far left side of the wall near the outer edge. A triangular hinged fitting is attached to far right side of the wall, and a pipe is attached to the wall along the lower right side of the door. An upward turned corrugated sheet metal metal tube protrudes from the upper right side. The inside is lined with white polystyrene panels, and the floor is wooden boards covered with seagrass matting. Near the door the floor area has low boxed sides but it steps inwards to form a short walkway to a four-drawer chest of drawers, which is fixed to the front wall. A table is hinged to the top of the drawers and it can be lowered on supporting struts that are attached to them, or stowed against upright against the front wall. Two small bench-bed platforms with legs have been attached to the curved sides of the tank on both sides of the drawers. They taper towards the back and on them are foam rubber mattresses covered in floral-patterned material. Along the side of the tank above both of the bench-beds and aligned with them is a two-compartment storage trough. A two-burner LPG stove with hood is on a bench on the left side between the bench-bed and the back wall. There is a shelf under the stove bench. On the right side between the bench-bed and the back wall is a bench with a shelf, used to store kitchen utensils and food. A large coil heater fired by a gas burner, which is fed via a pipe from the stove is on the wall above it.

Statement of significance

The John and Roma Dulhunty collection consists of a cylindrical, white-painted galvanised water tank turned on its side and adapted for use as a mobile shelter. At one end, there is a glass window, at the other end, a wooden door. The interior fittings include two bunks and built-in cabinets. The tank is mounted on two wooden rails to facilitate its easy manoeuvring onto the tray of a Toyota four-wheel drive.

Following retirement from the University of SydneyÂ?s Department of Geology in 1973, leading Australian research geologist, Dr John Dulhunty, with his wife Roma, embarked on several pioneering fieldwork expeditions to Lake Eyre. Their research, along with that of others, helped to unravel the hydro-geology of Lake Eyre and the climatic history of Australia over the past 250,000 years and which yielded many important research papers on the sedimentological and geomorphological changes of the lake. Roma is best remembered for her published trilogy about their expeditions using photographs taken by John. Affectionately referred to as the Â?hollow logÂ? because of its shape and resemblance to a hollow log tree trunk lying on the ground, the water tank/mobile field cabin could be loaded on a four-wheel drive and was dust-proof and sand-proof, providing shelter from high winds, dust storms and drifting sand. Originally an experimental arrangement, the hollow log served John and Roma for seven years, before retiring with them to Sydney.

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