The Golden Pipeline which brought water to the Western Australian goldfields in 1903, is still considered to be an engineering marvel. The designer and engineer for this project was Charles Yelverton O’Connor and he is one of the historically factual characters in The Drowner.
C.Y. O’Connor was also in charge of constructing Fremantle Harbour and there is an impressive statue of him outside the Fremantle Port building. A much more poignant memorial can be seen at C.Y. O’Connor beach in South Fremantle. It was here on the morning of 10 March 1902 that O’Connor rode on his horse into the surf and drowned. The sculpture, by Tony Jones, is actually in the sea and depicts a rider on his horse.