The plot of The Drowner is a clever combination of fact and fiction. The novel ends at Mt Charlotte Reservoir when a ceremony is held for the opening of the pipeline which will bring water from the coast. Kalgoorlie had been suffering a terrible typhoid epidemic due to a lack of water and this epidemic is portrayed graphically in the novel. The pipeline was opened on 24 January 1903, in 45C heat, with speeches and a parade.
Mt Charlotte Reservoir is now a tourist attraction in Kalgoorlie, providing a view of the town and the pipeline at the end of its 600km length.