Back to Perth – 19th November 2018

Plan was for Fras, Di and Al to drive back to Perth whilst Jen caught the 9.10am flight as she had a class at 1.10pm. As they say, all good plans of mice and men go astray and it certainly did for Jen. Al dropped Jen at the airport and then we checked out of the hotel and went to town to the Western Australia School of Mines where Al and Fras did their degrees.

Fras in Mine Engineer and Al in Geology. Jen also went to the school of mines and did Metallurgy for a year but soon realised that working in the rugged outback with a bunch of boozy rough necks wasn’t her calling.

We wandered around the campus having a look at the very updated student bar where the janitor informed us that it was not unusual for the bar to be drunk dry. Fras and Al were proud that the students were continuing to live up to their reputation and that nothing had changed since their time.

It was then around to the main office area to see the Board of Honours where Fras and Al had both their names emblazoned on it and their little chests puffed out. There is certainly many a story to tell of their days as students and some have been told and many have been sworn to secrecy.

The boys then went to the museum at the university where there was an amazing collection of rock specimens. You walked into the hall with that smell of your old uni days and the boys were saying it hadn’t changed one iota. Not sure how many specimens were there but Di asked Al that as he was a Geologist, was it expected of him to know all the different types of rocks. According to Al he said yes!!

It wouldn’t have been at all difficult for him to have identified this particular rock collection. There were rocks from all over the world and Di found one from the Badlands in Alberta which had dinosaur bone embedded in it.

We had a final catch up with Pottsie back in town at a cute coffee shop. Not sure when we will see the man again but hopefully not as long a gap as it has been this time.

On they way out the boys wanted a last look at the infamous Hay Street brothels which Kalgoorlie had quite the reputation for. Hay Street Kalgoorlie is the home to one of the world’s oldest working brothels. Questa Casa has been in known operation for 114 years and is possibly the worlds oldest working brothel. Also known as “THE PINK HOUSE”, Questa Casa is the only remaining brothel from Kalgoorlie’s gold rush era. The historical brothel offers tourists the unique opportunity to experience life from a bygone era.

Al was reciting the story of where the madam joined the Hash House Harriers and when it came her turn to host one of the watering stops, she insisted that they had to run in the front door of the brothel, grab their drink and then head out the back door, all during working hours.

By now it was time to get on the road for our 650k trip back to Calgary. Running along beside the road most of the way is this water pipeline which has an interesting history.

The Goldfields Water Supply Scheme is a pipeline and dam project that delivers potable water from Mundaring Weir in Perth to communities in Western Australia’s Eastern Goldfields, particularly Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie. The project was commissioned in 1896 and was completed in 1903. The pipeline continues to operate today, supplying water to over 100,000 people in over 33,000 households as well as mines, farms and other enterprises. The scheme was devised by C. Y. O’Connor who oversaw its design and most of the construction project. Although supported by Premier Forrest, O’Connor had to deal with widespread criticism and derision from members of the Western Australian Parliament as well as the local press based on a belief that the scope of the engineering task was too great and that it would never work.

There was also a concern that the gold discoveries would soon dry up and the state would be left with a significant debt to repay but little or no commerce to support it.

Sunday Times editor Frederick Vosper – who was also a politician, ran a personal attack on O’Connor’s integrity and ability through the paper. Timing was critical, Forrest as a supporter had moved into Federal politics, and the new Premier George Leake had long been an opponent of the scheme.

O’Connor committed suicide in March 1902 less than 12 months before the final commissioning of the pipeline. Very sad and yet it is still the only supply of water to the Goldfields to this day.

Meanwhile, it transpired that Jen’s flight was delayed until 2.00pm so she was going to miss her afternoon class. In the end we arrived back in Perth only one hour after she did. As you can imagine, we were all very shattered after such a long day.

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