Kalgoorlie was born in 1893 when prospector Paddy Hannan filed a Reward Claim, leading to a massive influx of miners. Within five years there was a population of 2,018.
There was a major problem with the location of this gold rush... Kalgoorlie is a very dry place. In order to sustain the work there they’d need to find a solution to the water shortage, and Irish engineer C.Y. O’Connor had a good one. The coast of WA enjoyed a rainfall of up to 30 inches per year, so why not capture some of that vast amount of water and channel it to Kalgoorlie through pipes. This proposal was considered to be totally absurd - the distance was over 500kms and would require oodles and oodles of 30 inch steel pipes. Quite an engineering feat fraught with potential failure.
The very conscientious O’Connor used the latest technology in interlocking pipes to prevent leakage and soon had them being shipped out at 100 per train. Unfortunately a dispute broke out over usage of funds and he was accused of helping himself to public money. Although he was not shy in defending his honour he eventually tired of all the wrangling and lies being circulated, and became wracked by worry and sleepless nights.
There is an urban myth that O'Connor shot himself after they turned on the pipes and not a trickle flowed. The story was that O'Connor failed to calculate how long it would take for the ater to flow from the coast to Kalgoorlie. He was a brilliant engineer - he knew exactly how long it would take - but he did take his life. On Monday morning, 10 March 1902, O’Connor left for his usual early morning horse ride and never returned. A letter was found in his study stating that his ‘brain was suffering’. Curiously, before he did pull the trigger riding into the surf at Fremantle, he removed his false teeth and put them in his pocket. The statue top is at C Y O'Connor Beach in Fremantle. The construction of Fremantle Harbour was also one of O'Connor's great engineering feats.
In 1903, just 10 years after the founding of Kalgoorlie, the water flowed into the reservoir constructed near Coolgardie, and water flowed on to Kalgoorlie... it still does... some 100,000 people are able to access water, thanks to O’Connor’s pipe dream.
For all your accommodation needs - Rydges Kalgoorlie Resort & Spa.