A project from the National Trust of WA
A self-guided drive trail between the Perth Hills and Western Australia’s Eastern Goldfields. Go with the Flow. Follow the water to discover more about the audacious goldfields water supply scheme and Engineer CY O’Connor.
“Future generations, I am quite certain will think of us and bless us for our far seeing patriotism, and it will be said of us, as Isaiah said of old, ‘They made a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert”
At the western end of the Heritage Trail is the source of water so crucial to many throughout the Wheatbelt and Goldfields regions.
Driving through forested hills that surround Mundaring Weir, it is not easy to imagine conditions at the other end of the Heritage Trail, on the flat waterless plains of the Eastern Goldfields. And it is easy to forget the crucial role water played in the early development of settlement and agriculture as the country opens up to classic Wheatbelt country with large open vistas and gently rolling hills.
The pipeline can often be seen crossing the open paddocks, rising and falling with the undulating hills. As farmers settled the area they cleared the land, first by backbreaking manual labour and later with the help of heavy machinery. The original landscape has been so modified as to be unrecognisable.
Today less than 5% of the natural vegetation remains.
If you want to get off great Eastern Highway, sealed back roads will take you on a picturesque route. You can drive through Mt Helena, formerly Lion Mill and a source of sand for the concrete for the goldfields water storage dam wall; Chidlow, formerly known as Chidlow’s Well for its source of precious water; Wooroloo, site of a sculpture depicting the water supply scheme; Wundowie, a ‘garden town’ established for WA’s first iron and steel industry specifically near the pipeline. Then back onto Great Eastern Highway to Baker’s Hill, site of a regulating tank at the highest point between pump stations 2 and 3 and Clackline, where a refractory made fire bricks for the boilers at No 1 Pump Station. Turn off Great Eastern Highway again to travel via Spencers Brook, past pools in the Avon from which water was railed to the goldfields before the pipeline was built, to Northam.
The old Northam to York road that takes you a little south of Great Eastern Highway before rejoining it at Grass Valley, passes through Seabrook, the site of a battery for processing ore from the goldfields. Ore was railed to it and the especially designed trucks carried fresh water on the return journey. It only operated for two years.
Click on any map section or place below to discover The Golden Pipeline.