"Gifted" water diviner takes his forked stick on the road
EMMETT Lyons was born with a gift.
A water diviner of some note on the Darling Downs, Emmett has been accurately predicting where underground water is located for more than 60 years.
From an early age on his family's Clintonvale dairy farm, Emmett felt powerful vibrations from his forked stick, which is now his most valuable tool.
Aged 80 now, Emmett has been using his gift to help drought-stricken farmers find water on their land from Dalby to Hughenden, right across the Southern Downs and even in the big smoke of Brisbane.
Growing up milking cows, Emmett rode his pony to school at Clintonvale, east of Warwick, up until scholarship (Year 7).
"They used to give me half broken ones (horses) and sometimes I'd get thrown before I made it the two miles to school," he laughed.
It was in those primary school days that Emmett heard his father talk of a local water diviner, Christie Jensen.
"I was intrigued so I went out to the big pepperina tree in the yard and broke off a forky stick," he said.
"I felt the vibration straight away."
If he hadn't been that curious kid all those years ago, he would never have realised he had been blessed with his gift.
However, life went on as normal for a country boy, until many years later.
"I left school the day I turned 13 and came home and pulled corn by hand with my father, Tom," he said.
"We had 22 acres and pulled 22 bags per acre all by hand."
Emmett moved to his current home and family farm, "Manapouri", near Pilton, in 1952.
"Dad put a deposit on the farm for me when I was 16 years old. It was just 151ha back then and we bought a few neighbouring blocks and built it up to around 810ha," he said.
"I dairied for the first few years and then went into mixed farming - cattle and grain growing."
Emmett put down a bore on his property in 1959 and utilised the services of Mr Jensen.
"I didn't have much success with water from that bore, so I decided to try water divining for myself," he said.
"I was about 26 years old when I decided to take it up more frequently.
"It gets you hooked after a while, and there is a real sense of achievement from finding water for someone."
Emmett believes the secret is to get a good stick that will last. He didn't want to put a figure on his success rate, but said he "seldom missed finding windmill water".
"I've picked most irrigation bores in this valley," Emmett said.
"I've even had one bloke blindfold me to see if I stopped at the same spot, and I did," he said.
"I had success at Greymare once striking water at 20 feet."
Emmett underwent hand surgery a few years ago, and wasn't sure if he would be still able to divine for water.
"I still do the odd one, but have a bit of arthritis now," he said.
He believes the force of his forky stick does put a lot of pressure on his hands.
"It moves or vibrates in your hands when you are over a water stream. You either have it or you don't, and I believe I was born with it," Emmett said.
"I walk along the eastern side of a property, and pick up the streams with my wires. I then follow through with my forky stick," he said.
Water divining has only ever been a sideline to his farming business, however Emmett says he finds it very satisfying when he strikes water for a client.
"A lot depends on the type of gravel you are working with," he said.
"Honeycomb basalt is the best kind of rock to find water in, but I have found good supplies in certain sands and gravels."
As well as farming and water divining, Emmett served 21 years on the Clifton Shire Council from 1970, including nine years as chairman.
"By 1970, we had five children, so I wasn't one bit happy about him entering local government," said his wife of 58 years, Denise.
"When I was on council it cost us money, as I'd be in at the council chambers most days and should have been at home harvesting, etc," Emmett said.
He has now retired and his eldest son, Patrick, operates Parklyon Charolais stud, and a lucerne hay and grain operation on the family property.