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Photographs supplied by Chris Abbott

The plaque commemorates Charles Yelverton O'Connor CMG (11 January 1843 – 10 March 1902) was an Irish engineer who is best known for his work in Australia, especially the Goldfields Water Supply Scheme.

 The plaque is located approximately 500 metres from where the opening ceremony for the water reaching Coolgardie took place in 1903. The site where the Exhibition Buildings once stood where the ceremony took place, is now a truck rest area.

A succession of gold rushes in the Yilgarn region near Southern Cross in 1887, at Coolgardie in 1892, and at Kalgoorlie in 1893 caused a population explosion in the barren and dry desert centre of Western Australia, exemplified by towns like Cunderdin and Merredin. On 16 July 1896, John Forrest introduced to Western Australian Parliament a bill to authorise the raising of a loan of £2.5 million to construct the scheme: the pipeline would pump 23,000 cubic metres of water per day to the Goldfields from a dam on the Helena River near Mundaring Weir in Perth, pumped in eight successive stages through 560 kilometres of 760 millimetre pipe to the Mount Charlotte Reservoir in Kalgoorlie. The water is then reticulated to various mining centres in the Goldfields.

O'Connor was subjected to prolonged criticism by members of the press and also many members of the Western Australian Parliament over the scheme.  Forrest, always a supporter, had left Western Australian politics to become federal defence minister; defamatory attacks by the press had wounded him. O'Connor committed suicide less than a year before Forrest officially commissioned the Goldfields Water Supply Scheme.



Address:McKenzie Street, Opposite Warden Finnerty`s residence, Coolgardie, 6429
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -30.957993
Long: 121.167327
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Plaque
Monument Theme:People
Sub-Theme:Government - State
Approx. Event Start Date:1898
Approx. Event End Date:1903
Designer:Rodney Higgins, Michael Ferguson, Kevin Gould, Mick McNally
Monument Manufacturer:Rodney Higgins, Michael Ferguson, Kevin Gould, Mick McNally


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Tuesday 25th February, 1992
Front Inscription

A tribute to C. Y. O'Connor who created the water supply by pipeline 557km from Mundaring to Coolgardie 1898 - 1903.

"He made a way in the wilderness"

Unveiled by Brigadier Sir Gregor MacGregor of MacGregor, Bart and Lady MacGregor on February 25th 1992 in the Centennial Year.

Assisted by the Coolgardie Water Supply & Coolgardie Shire


Inscription in Proximity

Water works designed & erected by

Rodney Higgins
Michael Ferguson
Kevin Gould

Earthworks by Mick McNally

25. 2. 92.

Source: MA,ADB
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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