The Murray River Weir

Weir across the Murray River looking towards Cantwell Park (Pinjarra Traffic Bridge is to the right of the image) date unknown.

Weir across the Murray River looking towards Cantwell Park (Pinjarra Traffic Bridge is to the right of the image) date unknown.

 

The Railway Comes to Town

In 1893 Pinjarra Rail Station opened with the rail line being extended down from Perth. A regular supply of fresh water was needed to cool the boilers on the steam trains and so in 1895 the weir was constructed to prevent estuary salt moving upstream.

Pinjarra Water Supply Scheme

By the mid-1920s the Murray Roads Board faced pressure from residents to modernise town facilities and provide a reticulated water supply. The Pinjarra Water Supply Scheme was launched in January 1926 with water being pumped from the billabong behind the Roads Board Office, upstream of the weir, into tanks on stands. The water was then gravity fed into town.
Whilst the Health Department had deemed the water safe for consumption, the Scheme was criticised by residents due to concerns about water quality. It was not unusual for the water to be tainted by silt, or to have river weed wash out of the faucets.
Roads Board Officers were also called on to remove dead animals from the river, including a horse at one time, to ensure the rotting carcasses didn’t poison the water supply.

Pinjarra Traffic Bridge and Weir downstream, c. 1913.

Pinjarra Traffic Bridge and Weir downstream, c. 1913.

 

Salt Problems

The Railway Department determined that the water was too salty to use on the boilers, and instead built Oakley Dam on the Scarp in the late 1930s to guarantee a fresh water supply.

The river water upstream of the weir was used for the town water supply until 1950 when a small dam was built off the South Dandalup River behind the Fairbridge Farm School. Pinjarra is now connected to Water Corporation’s Integrated Water Supply Scheme which is largely fed by the Stirling Dam south of Harvey.

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Traffic Bridge