Sunday, August 19, 2018


We saw on the news last night that Perth's dams are now at 50% capacity after the heavy rain we've had of late. This time last year they were only at 30% capacity. JL has been in hospital this week for a prostate operation, so as a special treat he was keen to go on an outing to Mundaring, scene of his first job as a young civil engineer.

The original dam was built in 1903 to supply water to the Goldfields via a long pipeline, quite an ambitious plan at the time. (The pipeline was designed by CY O’Connor, the Government Engineer-in-Chief. Sadly O’Connor took his own life only a few weeks before the pipeline started operation; he did this by riding his horse straight into the sea).  JL worked on the raising of the dam wall around 1950, in order to increase the capacity of the dam. He and all the labourers lived in a camp in Nissen huts on site during the week. They were a motley bunch, including new migrants who were contracted to work on such manual projects as a condition of being allowed to come to Australia. Whatever their background, they had to do this work, in one case a Polish concert pianist!  They were mainly engaged in producing huge concrete blocks to raise the height of the dam.

JL sat in a chair and reminisced about those days whilst I went for a walk. The Water Corp had closed off the walk across the dam wall, why?  So to get to the other side, it was necessary to drop down into the valley and up steep steps on the other side. This must be extremely annoying to those on the Bibbulmun Track who are carrying lots of gear.

This is our lunch spot, looking towards the dam wall
Looking at the dam wall from a lower level

Bibbulmun sign at the bottom

Valve house, dated 1903: a beautiful piece of industrial architecture
Pump house, originally steam powered, pumping the water to Kalgoorlie
C.Y. O'Connor lake
Wattles in flower everywhere

Water level at 50% capacity
In 1996, water overflowed down the spillway. This was the last time and people drove from miles around to see the spectacle which looked like lace as it flowed down the wall.  Nowadays, excess water is shared between the other Perth dams, some being produced at the de-salination plant south of Perth.

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