Travelling Australia - Journal 2012
July 2012 - Runaway Holes
Warning sign Sign at Poochers Swamp warning of dangerous runaway holes.

Runaway Holes are an interesting natural feature of the Bordertown area. They are deep depressions in the ground, sometimes very large, where water has made a way to flow down into underground aquifers. Runaway holes probably explain the limited surface drainage; the water runs underground instead of forming surface creeks and rivers. Some runaway holes are well known and long-established, others form unexpectedly and without prior notice.
smaller Poochers hole Smaller runaway hole at Poochers Swamp

Poochers Swamp Poochers Swamp waterhole. Inflowing water from Tatiara Creek increases the water level until it reaches the lip of the runaway holes. The dead trees around the swamp are river red gums which have died from continuous immersion.

One of the best known Runaway Holes around Bordertown is at Poochers Swamp in a readily accessible State Game Reserve 8.5 kilometres from Bordertown along the Cannawigara Road. Tatiara Creek, flowing through Bordertown, ends at Poochers Swamp which is a body of water adjacent to, and normally below, a pair of runaway holes near the entrance to the reserve. When rain swells Tatiara Creek the water level in the swamp rises and water flows into the runaway holes. Some of this water is absorbed but not all and the water level in the holes, and the swamp in general, continues to rise.

As more water is added from Tatiara Creek and the surrounding land, Poochers Swamp overflows along well recognised stream channels to Scown's Runaway Hole. Whereas Poochers Swamp reserve is a red gum forest, Scown's Hole is in a corner of cropland with a river red gum growing in the middle of the hole. Scown's Runaway Hole (13 kilometres from Bordertown along the Cannawigara Road) absorbs the overflow water from Poochers but has never been known to fill up. Thousands of litres an hour has been recorded flowing into the hole (in the 1981 floods 4,500 litres an hour flowed into the hole) but the water level doesn't change as inflowing water passes down into underground aquifers. This very large volume of water flowing underground is recharging underground aquifers and goes a long way to explaining the lack of surface drainage streams in this area.

larger Poochers hole The larger runaway hole at Poochers Swamp has less steep sides than the smaller hole but is far wider at the top.

Scown's Runaway Hole Scown's Runaway Hole at the edge of crop land with a river red gum growing in the middle of the hole.