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”
Water supplies prior to the scheme – gnammas, Hunt’s wells, rock catchments and condensers.
Harvesting water from rocks and boiling saltwater (condensers) were innovative ways of sourcing water in the inhospitable Eastern Goldfields before ‘scheme water’. Such sources were to be found not only on the fields themselves but also on the track leading to them. Maps to the goldfields listed watering places eastwards, such as wells, rock-holes and dams, and the distances between them.
Harvesting water from rocks
Explorer Lefroy is recorded as noting the value of ‘bald hills’ of granite for water supply during his 1863 expedition to what is now the Eastern Goldfields.
The first prospectors no doubt learned the importance of rocks as water sources from Aboriginal people living in the area. Gold was found at what became Coolgardie in 1892 and some histories claim Warden Finnerty gave the fields the Aboriginal place name for the gnamma, or rock-hole, at which Arthur Bayley and William Ford stopped to water their horses.
In fact, the track to the goldfields went from one granite outcrop to another. It followed a track made by Charles Hunt when he was sent east in search of pastoral land in the 1860s. Hunt and his work party of convicts constructed so-called Hunts Wells and improved ‘native soaks’ providing a life-line for thirsty fortune-seekers.
On the goldfields and en route to them a large granite outcrop provided precious liquid in three ways: hollows on the rock itself, natural soaks or wells at its base and later rocks were enclosed by walls built to channel runoff into constructed dams known as tanks.
Click on any map section or place below to discover The Golden Pipeline.