National Engineering Heritage Landmark - Coolgardie Goldfields Water Supply SchemePrint Page Print this page


Photographs supplied by Chris Abbott
The plaque recognises Coolgardie Goldfields Water Supply Scheme as a National Engineering Heritage Landmark.

Founded in 1829, Western Australia struggled in its first fifty years. That changed with the discovery of large deposits of gold in the 1890s that attracted thousands of miners, immigrants and new settlers.  By 1911 the population had reached over 293,923, with most living on the eastern goldfields.

One of the biggest problems facing gold seekers was the lack of adequate water. The goldfields had unreliable rainfall, lacked any surface supplies of fresh water and little prospect of finding useful underground supplies.  By the mid-1890s over 40 per cent of Western Australia's population lived on the eastern goldfields under appalling conditions, having to pay exorbitant prices for domestic water. The harsh and unsanitary conditions on the goldfields had a death rate of 16 per thousand in the period 1896 to 1898, largely due to the prevalence of typhoid fever.

The problem was compounded by the need for large quantities of water in the method of extraction used in the mining process.

The Goldfields Water Supply Scheme was designed by Chief Engineer, Charles Yelverton O’Connor, to provide a reliable source of water for the goldfields. It was an inter-basin transfer water system which extended 560 kilometres from Mundaring Weir (Dam) in the west to Mount Charlotte Reservoir at Kalgoorlie in the east. The scheme included two main reservoirs, the main conduit of the pipeline, eight pump stations, holding tanks and regulating tanks. Pipes were made of 30-inch diameter steel and the original pumps at the eight pumping stations were capable of delivering 22.73 million litres of water per day. Work was completed in early 1903.

The Institution of Engineers Australia, through its Heritage Committees, established the Australian Historic Engineering Plaquing Program to acknowledge past engineering achievements and to draw public attention to the significant contributions they have made to society.The Plaquing Program is a means of bringing public recognition to significant historic engineering works and the engineers who created them. The Program is intended to contribute to the conservation of Australian engineering heritage.



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.
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Monument Type:Plaque
Monument Theme:Technology


Approx. Monument Dedication Date:1987
Front Inscription

Coolgardie Goldfields
Water Supply Scheme

Conceived by Engineer-In-Chief C. Y. O'Connor and completed in 1903. 

The Coolgardie Goldfields Water Supply Scheme comprised a reservoir on the Helena River, eight steam-driven oumping  stations and 566 kilometres of steel pipeline supplying 23000 kilolitres of water daily to the arid goldfields.

Nowhere else in the world had so much water been pumped so far. The system was subsequently extended to serve the  Central and North-East Wheatbelt.

The Institution of Engineers, Australia and the Water Authority of Western Australia, 1987.

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