2) Wagon Stall / Furphy Tank

The Furphy Has A Story - A Furphy IS A Story?

2) Furphy Tank Ready to Roll
2) Furphy Tank End- Plate

The Furphy water cart was invented by John Furphy, an experienced blacksmith and wheelwright. It was first made between 1878-1880 in Shepparton, Victoria. No similar article was used in Australia or overseas at that time. The first carts found a ready market in Victoria and the Riverina and eventually found their way into all states.

John Furphy used a blend of his skills to construct the water tanks. An iron band was shrunk onto the end casting to hold and tightly seal the cylinder or body of the tank, just as an iron tyre was fitted to the wooden body of a wagon wheel.

The presence of the cart in military camps in Australia, Europe and the Middle East during the First World War led to the name of Furphy becoming an indelible part of our language. The drivers of the carts were notorious sources of information and gossip for the men as they moved from camp to camp.

As could be expected, not all their news was reliable, as it changed with each telling, much like the children's game of "Broken Telephone". The word Furphy rapidly became a synonym for suspect information or rumour, but not an outright lie.

The first end castings were plain, followed quickly by an inscription reading "Furphy" thus branding the top end of the plate. Shortly after, this was changed to read "J.Furphy, maker, Shepparton. When John Furphy recognised the value of advertising he added raised lettering listing his products.

In 1898, John added a short rhyme with a strong message. It read "Good, better, best - never let it rest - till your good is better - and your better best".

John's son, William added a Pitman's shorthand inscription in 1920, which translated tells the reader that "Water is the gift of God, but beer is a concoction of the devil, don't drink beer." In 1942 this was changed to read "Water is the gift of God, but beer and whisky are concoctions of the devil, come and have a drink of water" which has since become the more popular, recited version.

Also in 1942 William added a modified version of the saying attributed to W M Hughes, the prime minister of Australia, together with an illustration of a stork holding a baby in traditional fashion. The statement, also in shorthand, read "Produce and populate or perish".

Production of Cast Iron parts were ceased in 1983, however in times of drought, the old standbyes come out and get repaired at Furphys, using the same methods of over a hundred years ago.

To learn more explore the Furphy Website.