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”
Bodallin has been a stop on the railway line since 1894 and still is. Travellers have taken refreshments here since before then and they still do, except now they travel by car.
When Bayley and Ford discovered gold at what was to become Coolgardie, the train line didn’t even go as far as Bodallin. In September 1892 Arthur Bayley rode into Southern Cross with 554 ounces of gold and the rush was on. It was to be the largest movement of people in Australia. But at the start prospectors had to get there by foot or by horse.
In Southern Cross that very same night that Bayley rode in and visited the warden and registrar to apply for a lease, was someone else, presumably fast asleep in his hotel bed, who also plays a significant role in the history of the Eastern Goldfields. CY O’Connor, Engineer in Chief.
O’Connor was in Southern Cross on railway business, planning the extension of the railways as far as the Yilgarn field. But before the trainline even reached Southern Cross, centre of the Yilgarn field, plans were underway to extend it even further. And the problem encountered on the Yilgarn line was going to be even worse on the Coolgardie line. Where to find water for the steam trains?
Bodallin grew where one of the railway dams was built to supply water for thirsty engines. At the dam is something rather unique – a baker’s oven that dates back to the 1890s. It is a reminder that while prospectors hurried through on their way to the ‘fields, others made a living at these settlements supplying them with necessities.
As far as the pipeline rather than the railway line is concerned, Bodallin has at least two interesting connections. No 5 Pumping Station at Yerbillon, 60 km east of Merredin and 90 km west of Southern Cross, was where, in 1908, the first pumping station one teacher school was established. When it opened children from Bodallin and other little settlements on the railway, Carabbin and Noongar, attended too, so that before World War 1 Yerbillon school had an average of between 12 and 15 children. To get to school the railway children had to travel in the guards vans of goods trains and the school journal records numerous complaints about them arriving late because of inconvenient schedules.
The other connection is a unique monument to Australia’s involvement in World War ll. A Goldfields Water Supply construction gang were working on the pipeline and scratched a reminder into the wet cement of a newly casted block over the pipeline….
This Stone layed [sic] on eve of World War September 1939.
Bodallin is a stop on the Prospector today but the fire has gone out and there is no stone-baked bread hot from the oven, the only known one remaining on the road to the goldfields. And today the nearest school is at Moorine Rock.
Click on any map section or place below to discover The Golden Pipeline.