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Wednesday, 11 May  2005  Salt Lake

Hear about a town's plan to restore its lake.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: Life here in the Western Australian Wheat belt town of Dumbleyung ticks along pretty slowly. That's not unusual for a country town.

But it wasn't always the way, because several kilometres away lies Lake Dumbleyung, once a thriving hub for water activities.

So much so, it was the site where Donald Campbell set the world water-speed record in December 1964. But sadly, feats like this would now be impossible, as the lake has virtually dried up.

What was once an oasis is now a salt flat.

Believe it or not, but this used to be a yacht club. In fact it wasn't long ago that Lake Dumbleyung was a recreational and environmental paradise.

But there are moves afoot to return it to its old glories, return it to the times when it was a mecca for tourism in the Wheat belt.

BRENDAN GRYLLS, NATIONAL PARTY MLA: We're really excited about the possibility of returning areas like Lake Dumbleyung, in the Wheat belt of Western Australia, back to their former glory. That former glory is based around water.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: They see the barren banks of Lake Dumbleyung once again being the home of lush vegetation.

BRENDAN GRYLLS: Why do we need to have a bare salt lake, which everybody would regard as an environmental disaster and an economic and social disaster? If we can put the water back in these lakes, we can return the Wheatbelt to its former glory.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: Also planned are fully equipped yacht and waterskiing clubs, as well as the most ambitious project: a canal linking Dumbleyung, the town, to the lake.

It's as radical as it is visionary, but Brendan Grylls is confident it can work.

Locals say Dumbleyung's lost almost 15% of its population over the past five years. Go to any Wheat belt town and there's a familiar trend. But Louisa Dare has bucked this trend. She moved here from Victoria and now has a young family. Ms Dare sees the Lake Dumbleyung project as a way to preserve a lifestyle for the next generation.

LOUISA DARE, DUMBLEYUNG RESIDENT: To have it full again would be the dream, and if there's an opportunity that we can just blend a whole area of environment and recreation and tourism to support the community for the future, that's what we're really looking for. And if that's possible and if dreams really can come true and we can all have a happy go, then it would be great.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: While the lake is a far cry from what it was in the 1960s, it's hoped the long-term plan will go some way to restoring its former beauty.

And with the determination of locals like Louisa Dare, their dream just might come true.

LOUISA DARE: This is an opportunity that we can see for the future. And if we can get some more enthusiastic people to come out to Dumbleyung and share in this resource and this facility, it would just be fantastic.

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English Bites - Salt Lake
story notes

Dumbleyung is in an area of Western Australia known as 'The Wheatbelt'.

This is an area where a lot of wheat and other grasses are grown.

thriving hub
Here, thriving means lively and busy. And hub refers to the centre of activity or interest.
The lake was once a busy and interesting place.

Here, the word once means 'in the past'. In the past, the area was an oasis. The word once is the subject of today's spotlight.

An oasis is literally a place in a desert where there is water and trees. Here, the word oasis is used to describe a calm and pleasant place in the middle of something unpleasant.

salt flat
A salt flat is a flat area of salt left behind after the evaporation of a body of salty water.

moves afoot
If there are moves afoot, there are actions being planned.

Example: There are moves afoot to cut back staff.

old glories
Old glories refers to the lake's previous state, when it was beautiful and important, such as when Donald Campbell set the world water speed record.

Here, the word mecca is used to describe a place that is the centre of an activity or interest. Of course, it comes from Mecca, the holy city of Islam. If a place is a mecca for tourism, then a lot of tourists like to go there.

former glory
It's common to talk about restoring something to its former glory. That means making it beautiful and important again.

as radical as it is visionary
If something is radical, it's extreme or very new. And visionary means imaginative. The new plan is as radical as it is visionary. This means it is both radical, and imaginative, in equal amounts.

far cry
A far cry literally means a 'long way'. It's used to mean that something is disappointingly different. So if you were disappointed by something, you could say:

Example: It was far cry from what I expected.

long-term plan
A long-term plan is a plan that is acted out over a long period of time.

There are several ways of using once.

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