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”
Tammin has connections with the water supply scheme as well as water in the broader sense. One pipeline ‘connection’ is a bit controversial. But Tammin also has a claim to fame in the history of the scheme for a ‘first’.
Tammin was first settled by John Packham in 1881 but it was not until first the railway and then the pipeline came that the town and surrounding area was able to develop i.e. years after the discovery of gold.
However, prospectors trudging through the dust on their way to the far-off goldfields in the hopes of finding fortunes in the 1890s would have stopped in this area. The reason? Water. Just south of Tammin is one of Hunt’s Wells, a series of wells built by convicts in the 1860s that were a lifeline for those making their way east in the 1890s.
Did Tammin miss out on a pumping station? Should No 3 steam pump station have been at Tammin instead of Cunderdin? Is it because of corruption that it isn’t? The Engineer in charge of constructing the scheme, TC Hodgson, was accused of doctoring engineering advice that favoured building No 3 Pump Station at Tammin, not Cunderdin. TC Hodgson owned land in Cunderdin and a Royal Commission into the scheme and CY O’Connor’s death implied that he used his special knowledge of government work in the Cunderdin vicinity to his personal advantage when he rejected the Tammin option. He was suspended from duty pending a disciplinary inquiry that never took place.
Tammin first branch off the main
When the scheme was completed in 1903 a standpipe from the Goldfields pipeline opened near the Tammin railway station. Then in 1907 a branch line from the main built north of Tammin demonstrated the value of a dependable supply of water for stock and domestic purposes. This was the impetus for today’s vast Goldfields and Agricultural Water Supply Scheme. Over time a network of pipes has been built to lead water from the main conduit to all parts of this district. The main conduit today is a backbone for a vast network of pipes that has brought security to millions of hectares of farmland. The pipeline scheme has encouraged development in WA’s agricultural areas where lack of water was a problem for pioneers.
North – south divide
The first line off the main conduit went north of Tammin. Those living south of the town were not so lucky. Premier Sir James Mitchell instituted a settlement scheme in the Tammin area to solve problems of unemployment in Perth. Settlers bombarded the Goldfields Water Supply administration with letters of protest against rates and charges for water as well as requests for connection around 1912. A military training area established in 1909 had scheme water laid on but this connection was pulled up when the camp was closed and South Tammin had to wait until the 1960s to be reconnected.
Click on any map section or place below to discover The Golden Pipeline.