A wheat-belt town on the Great Eastern Highway about 157km east of Perth, Cunderdin lies in the lush Avon Valley and harbours one of the pumping stations that move water along the quite extraordinary Goldfields Water Scheme pipeline all the way from near Perth out to Kalgoorlie. Stretching west over 563km, it is the longest water pipeline in the world.
It was the brainchild of WA’s chief engineer, Charles O’Connor, who designed it and oversaw its construction. And the strain of it all killed him. In March, 1902, a month before the first water was pumped into the pipeline, O’Connor shot and killed himself on Fremantle Beach.
Once pumping began, it took the water nine days to reach Cunderdin and another 10 months before it finally reached Kalgoorlie, to the obvious delight of the locals.
The original pumping machinery can be seen in the old pumping station, built in 1902, which now hosts the Cunderdin Museum which also has the best and most extensive display of farm machinery anywhere in Australia.
About 25km from Cunderdin, near Merredin, you can still see the scar left on the earth by one of Australia’s biggest earthquakes which took place in 1968 measuring 6.8 on the Richter Scale.