Golden Pipeline

National Trust of WA

Explore The Golden Pipeline Heritage Trail

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.

Discover The people and the Scheme

“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” – Sir John Forrest

The Scheme Pipes

Laying and joining the pipes

Laying the Pipes

Where possible the pipeline followed the existing railway line which had reached Kalgoorlie by early 1897. This meant that the pipes, the length of which had been determined by the length of the rail trucks, could be transported from the factories by train and unloaded as close as possible to where they would be laid.

Where the pipeline deviated from the railway, the pipes were unloaded at a siding and transported from there by horse, and sometimes camel, drawn wagons.

Battye Library

Joining the pipe lengths

The pipes were laid in a trench. The pipe ends were butted together and a steel collar placed over the joint. The space between the collar and pipe was stuffed with hemp and then sealed with molten lead which was hammered, or “caulked” to make the seal tight. When pipe laying commenced in June 1900 this caulking was done by hand but in another innovative move, the work was later taken over by a revolutionary new caulking machine.

This had a series of hammers driven by an electric motor that was powered by a portable diesel engine. After caulking, the pipes were buried to protect them from temperature changes which would affect the lead joint seals.

Battye Library. Melting lead to use in caulking. 
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