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”
Gilgai, like Ghooli (site of No 6 Pumping Station) and Dedari (site of No 8 Pumping Station), was not a town per se but a stop on the Eastern Railway. Apart from No 7 Pump Station, it became the base for a railway gang.
Three or four fettlers under the supervision of a ganger (foreman) lived in WA Government Railways built houses set apart some distance away from the pumping station workers’ houses. The gang had responsibility for maintaining a certain section of the line – other gangs would be billeted further up or further down the line. This was before the Standard Gauge railway line was completed because it was laid about 20 km north of Gilgai.
The Education Department opened a one teacher school at No 7 Pumping Station in 1919 but it closed after only a few years, probably due to a lack of pupils. One teacher schools at pumping stations tended to open, close then re-open depending on the number of potential students.
The Gilgai school was re-established in 1954 after the influx of railway maintenance workers who moved into the houses with their families, thus boosting the number of school aged children in the district. A former resident of No 7, Keith Jarvis, recalls that while he was there during the 1960s the foreman was Mr Fitzgerald, an Aboriginal man, who had several children.
Keith also recalls a particular teacher Mr Pugh (spelling?) who took advantage of the school being on the railway to make a lesson out of whatever was passing through Gilgai on the line. Perhaps because railways employees lived on the same site, this enterprising teacher was able to arrange for his students to be able to see over or learn about items in transit – grain bins and even helicopters being transported from the eastern states. An earlier teacher, Marshal Walker, has written amusing memoirs about his time as a teacher at No 7 in the late 1940s in The Pump.
Click on any map section or place below to discover The Golden Pipeline.