This is a story of personal tragedy, political rivalries, corruption and trial by media that nearly tore apart Australia at the moment of its birth.
In the late 1800s, two men shared a vision for opening up Western Australia by pumping a river of water through pipes across the desert. Isolated goldfields were ripe with precious metal, but the people were dying of thirst. The state's first Premier and leading explorer, John Forrest, had a vision to take water to the goldfields. In Charles Yelverton O'Connor, he found the man he needed to turn his dreams into reality. At the time, the biggest and most ambitious engineering project of its kind in the world would save thousands from disease and drought, unlock untold riches in gold, and allow the ‘Cinderella’ state of Western Australia to take her rightful place in Australia's Commonwealth.
But the five long years of the pipeline’s construction would be dogged with controversy, destroy reputations and push an individual to breaking point. As Australia voted for Federation, becoming the new Australian Commonwealth, the dream of water in the goldfields finally became a reality, but it was at a huge personal cost.
A Film Australia Making History Production in association with Real Pictures. Developed with the assistance of the New South Wales Film and Television Office. Produced with the assistance of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
© 2011 National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.