It is just on two years since the passing away of Raymond Claude Menchin at age 95 years.
Although a quiet, reserved person, as were his eight siblings, the activities that he chose to participate in, he excelled in.
Ray was born in 1924 in the middle of ten children (nine surviving) which were born to Reginald Harold and Lila Constance Ethel (nee Nipperess) Menchin. The family was raised at "Riverside" Wilbetree, being a productive river flat block on the banks of the Cudgegong River.
Ray went to school at Wilbetree. The school was on the Mudgee side of the bridge. An orange tree is still producing there that was there in the 1930's. Although Ray was good at school, his father would not allow him to do high school in Mudgee and he started milking cows and farming for neighbours around the Wilbetree farms.
In his twenties Ray noticed one of the older Cox farmers water divining. He tried it with an L-shaped wire and found a strong reaction on the wire. Around the Wilbetree district, he backed his judgement, divined some locations and dug wells which were very productive and still in use today.
As graziers and farmers heard of Ray's ability to divine water, he became sought after, particularly in dry times. Some would say that they didn't believe in water divining but they would still want him to try. The droughts were very persuasive.
Between his 30s and 75 years of age, Ray assisted a considerable number of property owners in finding their most valuable resource, water. In his 90th year, Ray's divining locations were catalogued. The total was in excess of 160 "spots". These included on properties at Hargraves, Pyramul, Windeyer, Home Rule, Buckaroo, Wilbetree, Burrundulla and Piambong. Many of the vineyards near Mudgee are watered by bores which were divined by Ray.
One well that Ray divined and dug by hand near Burrundulla yielded 25,000 gallons per hour. Many others were around 10,000 gallons per hour. During the 1960s and 1970s, the Mudgee water supply was pumped from wells which were divined by Ray.
Ray mostly divined with an L-shaped piece of plain fencing wire. He would grasp the smaller end with both hands and as tightly as possible. The longer end, (about 1.3 metres) he would extend in front of him. When he moved over a stream of water, the longer end would swing from side to side, often striking him in the side of the head or neck. Often, it would swing that strongly the wire would curve and then need to be straightened. As he moved away from the stream, the wire would slow down.
As a water diviner, he was always honest. If there was no reaction on the wire then he would say so.
Water divining is not something you train for and it is not genetic. It is a "gift". One thing for certain is that it is a valuable resource to have in your district.
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