It was June of 1893 that Paddy Hannan found gold at Mount Charlotte beginning a gold rush that at today’s rate has hit 100 billion dollars extracted from the ground.
Also in June 1893 saw Samuel Pearce and William Brookman credited with the discovery of the Golden Mile, a term that became popular in 1899. William’s brother George financed the purchase of the ten paid shares of £15 each and five free shares. William went on to become Perth Mayor building what we know at The White House in Langford and what became The Peninsular Hotel at Mandurah.
Times were harsh with little or no water and water costing more than whiskey. A scheme was hatched to construct a pipeline to Coolgardie in 1895. 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 5 million imperial gallons (23,000 m3) 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 330 miles of 30-inch-diameter (760 mm) pipe to the Mount Charlotte Reservoir in Kalgoorlie. The water is then reticulated to various mining centres in the Goldfields.
CY O’Connor performed many engineering tasks deemed impossible in Western Australia since his arrival including opening and constructing Fremantle Harbour. O’Connor was subjected to prolonged criticism by members of the press and also many members of the Western Australian Parliament over the scheme. John Forrest, always a supporter, had left Western Australian politics to become federal defence minister; defamatory attacks by the press had wounded him. O’Connor took his own life on 10 March 1902, less than a year before Forrest officially commissioned the greatest engineering project on earth at the time, by shooting himself while riding his horse into the water at Robb Jetty at 4:40am, south of Fremantle.
Almost 10 years later, today since Paddy’s discovery in 24th January 1903 marks the official opening of the Goldfields Water Scheme at Mount Charlotte.
There were 2 opening ceremonies on the day – the first was at Coolgardie, where the pipeline was originally intended to terminate.
When the project was first proposed in 1895 Coolgardie was the centre of mining operations but by the time the pipeline was completed Kalgoorlie-Boulder had boomed and the pipeline was extended east to Mount Charlotte, the sight of the find sign of gold.
This photo shows the reservoir without its roof. The roof was added later to prevent evaporation and keep the tank and water clean.
The myth persists that it was roofed following a drowning.
Quite fascinating what we don’t learn in school?