TEACHER'S NOTES for
The Pipeline CY O’Connor Built
by Joy Lefroy and Diana Frylinck, illustrated by Marion Duke
published by Fremantle Press
Errata: In the overview of the Goldfields Water Supply Scheme at the end of the book, a mistake has
been published in the first edition. Originally there were eight pump stations and twelve reservoirs, not twelve of
each as printed.
Activities for students
Early Childhood: Searching for Gold
Due to the lack of water, prospectors searching for gold
in the Western Australian goldfields used a process called dry blowing. Look at the picture showing ‘a digger
looking for gold’ in the book.
Bowl of dry sand
Pieces of ‘gold’ — spray-paint small pieces of gravel or other stone
Bury pieces of ‘gold’ in the bowl of sand.
Students trowel sand from the bowl into the sieve, then shake the sieve until the sand has dropped through and the
gold can be seen.
Discuss other ways of searching for gold and why it is valued.
Links to Curriculum Framework — Society & Environment (Resources).
Early and Middle Childhood: Saving Water
In the book, the men from the east are sharing one bowl of water. This picture, based on a photograph taken on a
Sunday in Coolgardie, shows them sharing the water to shave, wash and have a haircut.
Discuss how else people on the goldfields would have saved water and what they would have gone without because of
the lack of water.
Monitor and record how much water you use in a day and consider what savings you could make.
Links to Curriculum Framework — Society & Environment (ICP, Resources); Maths (Measurement).
Early and Middle Childhood: Locking Bar Pipe
Without the steel locking bar pipe invented by Mephan Ferguson, the pipeline would have been far less efficient and
more expensive to build. In the days before welding, this locking bar allowed the two semicircles of steel pipe to
be joined along their long edges without rivets. Rivets slow the flow of water as well as having potential for
Study the diagram showing the locking bar joint on the endpaper in the book. Look carefully at the Before Closing
and After Closing joints. The locking bar joins the semicircles to create the lengths of pipe.
Make your own locking bar pipe and test it for water efficiency.
You will need a plastic A4 sheet cut in half.
Using plasticine or similar moulding clay, shape a length of locking bar as long as the sides of your A4 sheet of
plastic as shown in the ‘Before Closing’ diagram in the endpapers of the book. Fit one sheet of plastic into each
side of the plasticine locking bar joint and bend them round to fit into the second plasticine locking bar joint.
Close the locking bar joint by pressing it with your fingers to secure a watertight joint as shown in the ‘After
Closing’ diagram in the endpapers. Test the pipe by pouring water through it to check for leaks.
If you have time, find a way of joining the pipes you and your friends have made to create a longer pipeline. Test
Links to Curriculum Framework — Society & Environment (Resources); Technology & Enterprise
Early and Middle Childhood: The Route of the Pipeline
Look at the map on the front endpaper
of the book showing the original pipeline route and steam pump stations. Today the Goldfields and Agricultural
Water Supply Scheme supplies water to approximately 33,000 rural and town services, from outer metropolitan
Mundaring, through the Wheatbelt area, to the Goldfields. It supplies water as far north as Dalwallinu and to
Corrigin in the south. All pump stations are now electrically powered.
Make contact with students from one of the schools today receiving water from the Goldfields and Agricultural Water
Supply and begin a correspondence by email or letter to find out how you each value the water you use.
Links to Curriculum Framework — Society & Environment (Culture, Active Citizenship); English (Processes and
Middle Childhood: Gold! Gold! Gold!
The pipeline was built because so many people were living on the eastern goldfields of Western Australia, looking
for gold, and there was no reliable supply of fresh water.
In 1892, in the first recorded gold find in Western Australia’s eastern goldfields, Arthur Bayley and William Ford
found 80 ounces on their first day around what was to become known as Coolgardie and 554 ounces in total before
staking their claim. In 1893 in one day, Paddy Hannan, Tom Flanagan and Dan Shea found 100 ounces when they were
fossicking at what would later be Kalgoorlie.
Work out the equivalent weight of the gold in kilograms and find out how much their finds
would have been worth on the gold market today. Use the internet or daily newspaper to find today’s price of gold
Research gold and gold mining through history and around the world. In particular, find out
how and when gold was formed, where it has been found, what it is used for and why it is so precious.
Links to Curriculum Framework — Society & Environment (ICP, Resources); Maths (Working
Middle Childhood: Biography
Draw a time line down the centre of a page (or pages) and on it mark the life spans of Sir John Forrest and CY
O’Connor. Your time line will begin in 1843 and will finish in 1918.
Use a different colour for each life span.
On your time line, label important events in the lives of Forrest and O’Connor.
Illustrate to add interest to your time line.
Links to Curriculum Framework — Society & Environment (ICP).
Middle Childhood and Early Adolescence: Health
Many people on the Western Australian goldfields died from diseases such as typhoid and dysentery. In 1895 fever
wards in Western Australian government hospitals documented 357 deaths from typhoid.
Use the internet to find out more about these diseases and how they are transmitted.
Do people still die from typhoid? How are they treated today? Write a report of your results.
Links to Curriculum Framework — Society & Environment (ICP, TCC); Health & Physical Education
(Attitudes and Values).
Middle Childhood and Early Adolescence: Women and Children
Although all workers building the
original pipeline appear to have been men, there were also women and children who lived with the men at the pump
stations and in the small communities that grew up along the pipeline, many of which were far from the larger
Use photos from the book and other research to help you imagine what it would have been like to live at a pump
Consider schooling and education; growing food; jobs; friends; games played on and around the pipeline and at home;
living in the bush.
Write a journal entry as if you were a child growing up within one of the small communities.
Links to Curriculum Framework — Society & Environment (Place and Space, TCC); English (Viewing,
Middle Childhood and Early Adolescence: Steam-powered Pumping Engines
The original eight
pump stations were powered by Worthington Simpson horizontal duplex triple expansion high duty pumping engines.
These were steam driven engines. The boilers that powered the engines were made by Babcock and Wilcox. Students
discover how these boilers and engines worked during a visit to No 1 Pump Station.
After a visit to No 1 Pump Station, draw the system and mark parts of the boilers and engine. Show how the boilers
and pumping engines created a complete system. If one part failed, the system did not work.
Links to Curriculum Framework — Society & Environment (ICP, TCC); Science (Energy and Change); Technology
& Enterprise (Systems).
Middle Childhood and Early Adolescence: Related Photographs
Many photographs of the Western
Australian goldfields are stored at the Battye Library. Some of these photographs were used in illustrating the
Using the following keywords, search the Battye Library website to find photographs of the period.
Keywords: Mundaring Weir; Sir John Forrest; CY O’Connor; dry blowing and dry blowers; pipeline; Coolgardie;
Kalgoorlie; goldfields; condensers; camels; Golden Pipeline.
Bring recent photographs of yourself and your family to school. Make notes about the
differences you see in the archival photographs from the Battye Library or from the book, and those of yourself and
Links to Curriculum Framework — Society & Environment (ICP, Place and Space, TCC); English
Other Resources for further study
Other books and resources
Golden Pipeline Resources and Activities File, available through National Trust of Australia (WA), Tel 08 9321
Golden Pipeline Heritage Trail Guide, National Trust, available through National Trust of Australia (WA), Tel 08
9321 6088, 2002
CY O’Connor. His Life and Legacy, AG Evans, UWA Press, 2002
Australia’s Gold Rushes, Robert Coupe, New Holland, 2000
Gold Fever, Kimberley Webber, Macmillan Education, 2001
To the Goldfields, Rachel Tonkin, Allen and Unwin, 1999 (fiction)
Gold: A Treasure Hunt Through Time, Stephen Biesty, Meredith Hooper, Hodder, 2002
Midnite, Randolph Stowe, Puffin, 1967 (fiction)
Pioneering in WA, Hazel Biggs, Singing Tree Books, 1993
Water in WA, Evan Biggs, National Library of Australia, 2001
Gold in WA, Hazel Biggs, Singing Tree Books, 1993
CY O’Connor: the man for the time, Cyril Ayris, Black Swan series, 1996
John Forrest: man of legend, Cyril Ayris, Black Swan series, 1996
My Dear Emma, RE Tyler (ed), Fremantle Arts Centre Press, 2003
The Drowner, Robert Drewe, Penguin, 2002