CY Oconnor Beach

With all this amazing cloud around I thought I would check out the beach dedicated to CY Oconnor. For those of you who don’t know WA history, CY Oconnor was one of the best engineers Australia has ever seen and 2 of his more note worthy projects were the pipeline to the Gold Fields in Kalgoorly from Perth and the Harbour in Fremantle itself.

He copped so much flack from the press about his pipeline project that when they flicked the switch and the water did not flow immediately, he thought he had failed the mission and the next day he rode into the water at this beach and shot himself.

The following day the water flowed!!!!

Only now are they dredging the harbour that he designed and it has done us proud till now, so what an amazing man with an amzing foresight. The media has a lot to answer for i reckon!

~ by True North Mark on January 19, 2010.

40 Responses to “CY Oconnor Beach”

  1. Picture perfect composition mate Well Done !
    I ended up going out tonight down to Trigg Beach right near home, was rather nice just to get out and the swell is still around, waist to chest, seemed to pick up as I was leaving. Will post something soon, gotta eat first !
    Cheers Adrian

    • Cool Adrian!

      Swell eh…might have to look into that!

      1.75m to be exact!! πŸ™‚



  2. Nice one Mark. Bonus points for letting me know what the wreck is. I just love martime history and wreck diving.


    • I was hoping that someone in blog land could wise me up on that one Jamie! Until yesterday, I did not know there was a wreck there!



  3. That is one waste of a life!! What a shame. I wonder how those same reporters felt when they were writing that story!
    I like this one alot Mark, that starfish really pops! great work.
    What lens were you using by the way?

    • Hi Bryce, I was using the Canon 16-35 L series wide angle.

      Glad you liked the story….I am a big fan of CY Oconnor and I think that the current idle standing by of our water situation is mimicking history again actually!

      In 5 years the water corporation is stating that we will be in dire straights and yet there is no positive action being done to come up with the obvious long term solution…carry on with a pipe or canal to bring the unlimited supply of water from the Ord.

      Desalination is nothing close to resembling a fix as it is expensive, the waste water will kill Coburn sound and it adds to global warming….so where is our modern day CY to put it all together!!!

  4. Ask and ye shall receive!

    Hi Flemming definetely stay at Marks. His entertainment area is amazing.

    • That’s a good story eh!

      Thanks for that Jamie. I will go down on low tide one day to see if I can get the other wreck that supposed to be there.



  5. It’s always good to get a story with an image, especially when it tells us a bit about local history πŸ™‚

    Sounds like a real tragedy too, you’ve got to wonder what else he could have achieved.

    Apparently the lake created by Mundaring Wier is also called Lake O’Connor after him.

    • Hi Dave,

      Thanks for dropping by. Yes indeed it makes you wonder what else he could have achieved, but like all achievers in this world the ‘Captain Negatives’ drag em down in the end!!

      If you are interested, the ABC shop may well have the video story that was done on his achievments that I found to be very well done. Can’t remember if it was Foxtel or the ABC, but the ABC shop would be a good place to start.



  6. Hi Mark,

    If you are up for a snorkel sometime there is another wreck I know about in between two of the ship jetties in Cockburn Sound. Its about a 50m swim out and its in 3M of water. Bring the underwater housing! You can just see it in Google Earth if you know where to look.


    • Sure mate sounds like fun!

      I don’t have an underwater housing as yet but will do soon.



  7. I’ll email the info. We’ll have to do it when I get back. πŸ™‚

  8. Hi Dave,

    Aside from the obvious ‘benefits’ I do want to do a half in water and half out of water shot of Cottesloe.


  9. Is that the CY O’Conner statue in the background ?

    We called in there a couple of weeks ago looking for it but didn’t see it.

    • Hey Merv…indeed it is mate. I took a zoom shot of it that I will post for you soon if you like!

  10. That’s a real picture postcard shot – despite the sad story it’s a peaceful and relaxing image.

    Note to self always carry a plastic starfish in the camera bag to really spruce up a shot hehe πŸ˜‰

  11. Markie
    A great shot made better because of the tragic underlying story; part of which happened around 1900 and part of which is unfolding right now, in 2010.

    As you’ve alluded to, around 1900, WA suffered from negative, small minded idiots who caused CY O’Connor so much distress regarding his vision of providing water to Kalgoorlie (and all the wheatbelt towns en route from Perth) that he eventually had enough of the unfair criticism and rode his horse into the water and tragically took his own life near the site of your photo.

    Now, a century later, we have a Water Authority that is failing in its fundamental role of providing Perth with adequate water. Instead they ask us to let our gardens wither and to drink recycled sewerage, once they have partially treated it and mixed the crap with our ground water. Great!!

    Meanwhile, instead of applying resources to coming up with a real water supply (ie. from our north, where there are vast quantities), they waste money on advertising and employing people to police the behaviour of otherwise law abiding citizens, who have now become watering offenders. And for good measure they create a mentality of dobbing in your ex friends ie. your neighbours. Brilliant.

    And I haven’t even started on the consequences of how the desal plants will damage Cockburn Sound.

    You don’t have to believe in climate change to realise that Perth’s population is growing fast, largely because of a resources boom, just like the Goldfields in CY O’Connor’s time. This demands significant new supplies. Isn’t there anyone in the Water Authority who will get serious about providing Perth with water from the north?? I’ll happily pay heaps more to drink clean water rather than drink recycled sewerage, stuff up Cockburn Sound, see lawns and gardens wither and neighbours turn on each other, while the Water Authority wastes precious money on advertising and policing otherwise law abiding people.

    • You are very cruel Greggy…the Water Authority did advise us in the paper about a week ago that we will be in dier straights in 5 years time…so I guess they feel they have done their job!!

      As discussed this arvo, is it not the fundamental role of Government to look after utilities such as water and power and they are failing on both fronts at the mo!!

      Thanks for the torch mate…it works a treat.



  12. It seems to come down to whats easier for them rather than what the public want. They’d rather desalinate water or rob the artesian bore down south, thus leaving that area drier!

    The harrassement of CY O’Connor was certainly a shameful thing and must be a reminder to us to not always believe everything we read in these papers! However O’Connor committed suicide many months before the pipeline was finished and only a couple of days after a successful test run of a small length of the line. The story of O’Connor turning the pump on and being so disappointed at being a failure is a nice little story people have come up with over the last century. If O’Connor were really that brilliant surely he would realise the water wouldn’t come instantly through the pipe!

    Makes you wonder, if this is what we grow up believing why are we not told the truth in school through the learning of Western Australian History rather than German?? But thats a whole other kettle of fish…

    • Thanks for clearing that up Jasmin..but no doubt the underlying reality is that the media did push him down the path of suicide and the other reality is that we are indeed facing a real crisis with water sooner than we think!

  13. Most definately Mark. I worked at a ‘Waterwise School’ last year and we had a talk from the water corp. They outlined their predictions for the future and in just a couple of years our demand will be far greater than our supply! They say they are finding alternatives but at what cost is what we must be aware of!

  14. Great shot and a great story Mark.
    But I must say the government has definitely failed over the years. They have reaped the rewards from the influx of people moving to Perth, the stamp duties, taxes, etc, but really what have they done to secure water supplies?
    Now it doesn’t take much to realise, and if you think like a farmer, if you plant more crops than available water to irrgate them, you will come unstuck. This is exactly what is happening to Perth. Yes rainfall has dropped, but if you do not increase the size of your water resources you will run out, simple. Ernie Bridge did suggest a pipeline from the Ord when they put in the Dampier to Bunbury Gas Pipeline in some 30 years ago. He was shot down in Parliament. Would’ve been pretty safe for water now though I think!!
    And don’t get me started on the Government wanting to charge farmers for water they catch in dams they paid for themselves!! They wanted to install meters (at farmers cost) and then read the meters every couple of months (also at farmers cost). Unbelievable!!

  15. Ah great debate fellas!
    Here’s my view….
    Yep there is a truckload of water up north. But even that isn’t limitless. I’m a real cinic. The more water we have the more we’ll use and indeed waste. Why dam a river up in the Kimberley to save Cockburn Sound? Which is more important? I figure if Perth wants more water then it should find it’s own in its own backyard and not ‘damage’ some other part of WA to get it. Sounds a bit like out of mind out of sight if you ask me.

    And don’t get me started on ‘sustainable’ population growth! The more our population grows the more we’ll stuff up the environment!

    There you go fellas, I’ve said it!

  16. heres my say, Why don’t we all have under eave rainwater tanks, Ours was only a couple of thousand bucks and we save about 20,000 litres a year as it flushes our toilets and fills the washing machine. Just a small amount of water sure but if everyone did it imagine the water savings. Plus plant natives and none of this exotic tropical stuff that needs lots of water, it isn’t rocket science.
    We are on the driest continent on earth, we need to think more about how we use our water, ok stop the 10min showers, if you have a teenager tell them they can only shower once a week. That means you Stakky.

  17. Here’s some trivia, Markie. I had dinner tonight (and the night before, and the night before …) with a great grand-daughter of the policeman who discovered C.Y O’Connor’s body at Leighton beach.

    She is a fan of yours and your work, and is s looking forward to seeing you next week on the True North, taking some great shots up in PNG (returning to the photography theme).

    Speaking of which, her great uncle (Lt. Colonel Ralph Honner DSO, MC) – one of the sons of that policeman; another being her grandfather – is the person who famously led the 39th Batallion on the Kokoda Trail including through the critical battle of Isurava. Tonight in Sydney is the 2010 Annual Dinner given by the Kokoda Track Foundation in commemoration of Lt. Colonel Ralph Honner.

    So, you can imagine how special it will be for us to be able to fly to the Kokoda Trail memorial, off the True North helicopter as part of the PNG trip. Incredibly moving, I expect. Expect a few teary shots if you are with us on that flight! Needless to say, we are True North fans.

    cheers mate

    • Hey Greggy….now that’s not Trivia mate…that’s major stuff eh!

      Not long now before we are on True North again and Christian is already over that way in QLD. I am off to Korea on Sunday till Wednesday and then over to Cairns on Friday.

      Is this fan of mine your lovely wife?

  18. Yes, mate – ’tis her!

    Will be great to get together with you and CF again and get some tips again. Is so much easier with you guys gently prodding me in the ribs with suggestions etc. Can you drive a D700 though?? lol

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