Freo's View


Posted in city of fremantle, fremantle port, history, Uncategorized, western australia by freoview on January 12, 2019


cy o'connor


Yesterday, January 11, was the birthday of CY O’Connor, who no doubt was one of Freo’s and Western Australia’s greatest pioneers.

Charles Yelverton O’Connor built the Fremantle harbour and also the 530km long water pipeline from Perth to Kalgoorlie, but sadly he received a lot of criticism from politicians and the Sunday Times and became quite depressed. He killed himself at South Beach on March 10, 1902. A sculpture in the Indian Ocean by Tony Jones reminds us of CY’s sad ending.

CY O’Connor was born in Gravelmouth, Castletown, County Westmead in the Republic of Ireland on January 11, 1843 and migrated to New Zealand as a 21 year-old.

He became Engineer-in-Chief of Western Australia in 1891.

I very often tell the remarkable and sad story of Charles Yelverton to tourists at the Roundhouse, because I consider him to be one of the great pioneers of our state and Fremantle.

Roel Loopers


Posted in fremantle by freoview on April 30, 2014

Legendary Western Australian CY O’Connor is being put on trial this May – in a play that re-imagines his tragic end. There will be a special one-off performance at the Fremantle Workers Club for the Fremantle Heritage Festival.

Irish-born Charles Yelverton O’Connor was most famously responsible for building Fremantle harbour and the Mundaring-to-Kalgoorlie pipeline, known as the Goldfields Water Supply Scheme.

But on March 10, 1902, exhausted by over-work, libellous press criticism and lack of political support, he rode his horse into the ocean at South Beach and shot himself.

The play imagines a different ending, played out in a courtroom, where O’Connor is put on trial to answer the accusations levelled at him during his lifetime and beyond. Director Peter Nettleton said the playwright had allowed him considerable liberty in bringing the dramatisation to life. “The CY O’Connor story is one of the most controversial but seldom told tragedies from WA colonial history,” he said. “Being a history buff and also a practicing lawyer, the idea of testing the story in a courtroom environment was irresistible to me.”

The Trial of CY O’Connor plays at the Fremantle Workers’ Club at 8pm, May 10.  Tickets for May 10 are $20 guests, $15 members – book on 9335 1840 or


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