Another iceberg in Sydney Harbour?

  • BY AG Staff |
  • March 22, 2010

On 1 April 1978, Australian Geographic founder Dick Smith pulled off the great Sydney Harbour iceberg hoax.

On1 April 1978, Australian Geographic founder Dick Smith pulled off the Sydney Harbour iceberg hoax.

With his typical flair (and the help of 300 of his employees) Dick fooled the media into crowding around the wryly named 'Dickenberg One' barge to get a glimpse of his ‘Antarctic iceberg’. In reality the ’berg was just firemen’s foam covered with big plastic sheet, but it fooled just about everyone until it rained, proving to be a ripping yarn long since.

So, here at AG, our ears pricked when we heard about today’s Sydney Harbour World Water Day stunt. I went along, a little dubious, but feeling relatively safe that it was not April Fools today.

Almost two years ago Geoff Forster was making news by winning 2nd place at the International Exhibition of Inventions in Geneva for his water-saving device, Waterfuse. An adaptation of his original million-dollar idea, Gasfuse — which is now installed in over a billion gas tanks worldwide — Waterfuse restricts tap flow by 75 per cent for the first 10 seconds, then by 50 per cent for another 10 seconds, before full flow is restored. The device, not yet on the market, also detects and cuts off tap leaks.

Two years later, Geoff is not much further along in his quest to have Waterfuse installed in households, government thus far not having chosen to support his scheme. This may have something to do with an estimated $1000 price tag, although Geoff says savings could amount to $250 per annum.

Today in Sydney, the iceberg, complete with mermaids and up-beat music, was made from photographic canvases of ice, and represented the potential water savings for an average Australian household over six months, should they install Waterfuse or something similar.

Amusingly, it seems that hauling a giant iceberg into Sydney Harbour has appealed to more than one innovator in the last 30 years. Well, following in Dick Smith’s shoes is a big move, but I wish Geoff luck in his endeavours and, icebergs or not, I encourage everyone to think about conserving on World Water Day and every day after that too... before any more icebergs are required.

Keep your eyes open for issue 99 and our feature article on some life-changing and little-known Australian inventions, out July 2010.