C. Y. O`Connor Print Page Print this page

24-September-2022 (Chris Abbott)
24-September-2022 (Chris Abbott)

Photographs supplied by Diane Watson / Chris Abbott

The plaque commemorates C.Y. O’Connor who designed the Goldfields Pipeline.

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.

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.

When the goldfields observances of  the Centenary of West Australia take place in the near future tablets will be erected at suitable spots to mark historical events. Two of these will be associated with the name of the late Lord (Sir John) Forrest and the late C. Y. O'Connor and the third with the name of Paddy Hannan. The W.A. Centenary Committee, in Perth had suggested that the two former should be placed at the Mt. Charlotte Reservoir to mark the completion of the water scheme and that the third should be fixed near Paddy Hannan's tree. The local Mechanics' Institute committee came forward with a suggestion to the Kalgoorlie Municipal Council that these tablets should adorn the entrance of the institute buildings instead of being lost to the view of the public and trans-Australian travellers if the plates were put elsewhere.
Western Argus (Kalgoorlie), 6th August 1929.


Address:Hannan & Wilson Streets, Town Hall Building, Kalgoorlie, 6430
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -30.748889
Long: 121.470556
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Plaque
Monument Theme:People
Sub-Theme:Government - State


Approx. Monument Dedication Date:1929
Front Inscription

Centenary of Western Australia

This tablet was erected by the citizens of Kalgoorlie

In honour of the late C. Y. O`Connor C.M.G., Engineer-In-Chief, of the Great Goldfields Water Scheme.

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