C. Y. O'ConnorPrint Page Print this page


Photographs supplied by Chris Abbott

The monument commemorates Charles Yelverton O`Connor (11 January 1843 – 10 March 1902) who was an Irish engineer best known for his work in Australia, especially the Goldfields Water Supply Scheme. The monument features a portrait bust of C.Y. O`Connor which was originally unveiled on the 14th December 1907, the bust has been incorporated into the new memorial which was unveiled on the 14th December 1951. 

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.

On Saturday the erection, on the Mundaring Weir of the bust of the late C. Y. O'Connor was completed under the supervision of the sculptor, Mr. Pietro Porceill, R/A, The bust was placed upright against the tower which faces the entrance to the bridge, and so will be seen by every person who pays a visit to this great work, which originated in the brain of the late Engineer- in-Chief, and was nearlng its successful completion at the time of his death. 
Daily News (Perth, WA), 16 December 1907.

Work in progress yesterday at the northern approach to the new Mundaring Weir on the construction of what will be a feature of the weir a 45ft.-diameter concrete and bitumen memorial area. This area will be surroundedby pitched stone seating. In the centre will be placed a bronze bust of the late Mr. C. Y. O'Connor, the Engineer-in-Chief who designed and supervised most of the construction work. Alongside the bust will be a cabinet containing particulars of the goldfields and agricultural areas served with water and photographs of the building of the old weir and wall from 1897 to 1903. Other photographs will record construction of the new wall. The new wall is 132ft. high, having been raised from 100ft. Except for concreting a small lower portion, where machinery was previously used, and cleaning up, the work is practically complete. The raised wall will dam 15,000,000,000 gallons of water when the weir is filled to capacity, compared with 4,650,000,000 gallons when the height was 100ft. The new weir will be officially opened early in December.
West Australian (Perth), 20 October 1951.

The Premier, Mr. McLarty, will unveil a tablet at 3 p.m. on Friday at Mundaring Weir as a tribute to the pioneering work of Sir John Forrest and Mr. C. Y. O'Connor. The tablet will also record the completion of work which has raised the height of the dam wall from 100 ft. to 132 ft. and increased the capacity of the weir from 4,650,000,000 gallons to 15,000,000,000 gallons. The Minister for Works, Mr. Brand, yesterday invited the public to attend the ceremony. He said that considerable work had been done in beautifying the northern hillside approach to the weir. 
Toodyay Herald (WA ), 13 December 1951.



Address:Weir Village Road, Mundaring Weir, O`Connor Lake Lookout, Mundaring, 6073
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -31.955572
Long: 116.165171
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
View Google Map


Monument Type:Monument
Monument Theme:People
Sub-Theme:Government - State
Artist:Pietro Porcelli (Bust)


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Friday 14th December, 1951
Front Inscription


Plaque :

             MUNDARING WEIR

        Constructed 1898 - 1903
For Supply Of Water To Eastern Goldfields

Premier.                            Sir John Forrest M.L.A.
Engineer in Chief.             C. Y. O`Connor C.M.G.  M.Inst.C.E.
Contruction Engineer.       W. G. Reynoldson
Resident Engineer.           W. Leslie M.I.Mech.E.

     Raised 32 Feet 1946 - 1951
         For Supply Of Water To
             Agricultural Areas

Premier.                              Hon. Ross McLarty M.L.A. 
Minister for Water Supply.  Hon. David Brand M.L.A. 
Director of Works.              R. J. Dumas C.M.G. M.E.M.Inst.C.E.
Hydraulic Engineer.            V. C. Munt M.E.M.I.E. Aust.
Construction Engineer.       D. C. Munro B.E.M.I.E. Aust.
Resident Engineer.             H. E. Hunt B.E.A.M.I.E. Aust.

          December 14th 1951



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