Those Victorians (the era, not the Australian state) were incredibly inventive. This device, at a roadside display in Ilfracombe, Queensland, (population 270), is a steam-driven dam-digger from 1880. It used buckets to scrape dirt up what would become the sides of the dam, and deposit the dirt at the edge of the dam wall.
From the selling agents description:
- It is simple in its principle.
- It is strongly constructed.
- Steel and wrought iron are largely used, there will be but little wear and tear.
- It will dig, lift, and put into carts one cubic yard of earth in a minute.
- It is inexpensive and economic in its working.
- It will move itself and travel as required.