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”
Bullabulling, an old town site, with a railway dam and former hotel, used to offer hospitality to the weary traveller.
Prospector John Aspinall, on his way to seek a fortune in the Eastern Goldfields, reached Bulla Bulling (the spelling changed to Bullabulling in 1944) in late March 1895 after leaving Woolgangie early in the morning when it was still cold. He wrote in his diary:
The road is far more hilly at this place than any part of the track yet passed – one steep piece being called the Devils Pinch, where there are condensers and 2 miles further Govt condensers. We had dinner at the first place and reached Bulla Bulling after a 10 mile walk.
As in so many of his entries for a stopping place, New Zealander John wrote about the water sources, including a soak in this case.
Bullabulling has a very good dam but lately a man was found drowned in it, so no one drinks the water – not that people in this country are very particular, but the man was suffering from fever. Fortunately there is a good soak near at hand so we got water there.
As luck would have it, the soak at Bullabulling was ‘covered over on top’ so John had to go down underneath to get the water, ‘and what with darkness, frogs croaking and hornets buzzing about things felt a bit uncanny’.
The ‘fever’ from which the man drowned was typhoid, one of the reasons for the construction of the scheme to supply the goldfields with a reliable water supply.
These sources of water made Bullabulling a popular stopping place in the 1890s and a townsite was surveyed. Dr Charles Laver practiced there in the 1890s, before moving further east and north to an area where there is now a town named for him, Laverton. Many of his patients at Bullabulling were probably fettlers working on the railway line being extended east at the time. Workers on the goldfields water supply scheme swelled numbers in the town too.
The Rock Hotel (sometimes Bullabulling Hotel or Rock Tavern) continued to serve refreshments to travellers until the mid 2010s, meaning Bullabulling was a refreshment stop for more than 100 years. The Tavern closed because cars no longer stopped there, other places being so close with motorised transport. Nevertheless, Bullabulling is on the State’s heritage register.
Click on any map section or place below to discover The Golden Pipeline.