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”
Mount Charlotte is both the beginning and the end of the Heritage Trail story. It was near here that Paddy Hannan discovered gold, sparking the rush which led to the need for water. And it was here that the water finally arrived in 1903, at the end of its 560 km journey from Mundaring.
Originally the pipeline was intended to end at Coolgardie but even before construction began in 1899, Coolgardie was in decline while Kalgoorlie was booming. The decision was made to extend the pipeline to Kalgoorlie and Mt Charlotte was chosen as the obvious site for the pipeline’s end. It was not a large hill but it was sufficiently high to provide pressure for a water supply to the town. There was the added advantage that no further pumping was required. It was lower than Bullabulling, up to which water was to be pumped from No 8 Pump Station, and from where the water could gravity flow to Mt Charlotte just as easily as to Coolgardie.
The rendered reinforced concrete reservoir was not constructed on top of the hill but set into it, in a hole excavated by men using picks and shovels. Richard John Anketell of Rabbit Proof Fence fame was in charge of the construction. When completed it had a capacity of 2 million gallons (4.54 million litres).
On 24 January 1903, in the presence of local, State, and some Federal dignitaries who had never been to Western Australia before, Sir John Forrest officially opened the Goldfields Water Supply Scheme at Mt Charlotte. Flags were flying and the crowd was in a joyous mood as, for the first time, an assured water supply flowed into Kalgoorlie. The one sombre note was when Forrest expressed his sadness that the great architect of the scheme CY O’Connor had not lived to receive the honour so justly due to him. The crowd responded with applause and cheers.
The Mt Charlotte reservoir is still used today although only as a reserve tank. A new main holding tank is located on Mt Percy to the north. It was constructed in 1985.
I am so glad that I am not a Federal Visitor today – imagine the thirst they will have, the drinks they will consume, the state of inebriation that most of them will be suffering from.
At night they pumped up water from the tank and forced it back through four nozzles pointed upward from the middle of the tank and played coloured electric lights on it. William de Mole 24 January 1903
Click on any map section or place below to discover The Golden Pipeline.