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Route of the Ballarat Railway Line

Author

Heritage Council

Place Number

05358
There no heritage location found in the Google fusion table.

Location

From Yoganup to Ballarat Mill nr Lockeville Busselton

Location Details

Local Government

Busselton

Region

South West

Construction Date

Constructed from 1871

Demolition Year

N/A

Statutory Heritage Listings

Type Status Date Documents More information
(no listings)

Heritage Council Decisions and Deliberations

Type Status Date Documents
RHP - To be assessed Current 13 Aug 2021

Other Heritage Listings and Surveys

Type Status Date Grading/Management More information
Category Description
Municipal Inventory Adopted 20 Jun 1996 Category 5

Category 5

These places are of historic or social value, with few or no built features, and in private ownership or held by State agencies. Actions required are few and may, according to circumstances, be limited to recognition by way of interpretation or signage.

City of Busselton

Values

• The place comprises rare remnants of infrastructure associated with the early phases of the timber industry in Western Australia, which became one of the largest industries and exports in the State
• The place is associated with the WA Timber Company, the first private timber company to operate in the State to be granted a land concession from the Government, which was an incentive to attract external investors to develop the timber industry
• The place is the route of the first railway in the State, constructed in 1871 by the WA Timber Company to transport jarrah to the Company’s saw mill at Lockeville. The railway was used by the first steam locomotive in the state, named the “Ballaarat” [sic], which is still valued by the local community today
• The place has the potential, through archaeological investigation, to uncover cultural material that may reveal further information on the day to day operation of the WA Timber Company
• The railway and associated steam locomotive is an example of new technology being introduced in the State.

Physical Description

The place is the route of the former Ballarat Railway, extending roughly 30 kilometres, which was constructed by the WA Timber Company to transport timber. The route begins at the jarrah forest at Yoganup and leads to the site of the Company’s saw mill at Lockeville (near Wonnerup). Portions of the route and timber railway sleepers are still visible from roughly 5km inland, and closer to Yoganup where the railway reserve still remains, but portions are located within densely vegetated areas or have been built over. Land closer to the coast near Wonnerup is predominantly subdivided.

History

The Wardandi and Bibulmum/Piblemen Noongar groups are the traditional owners of the area in which the City of Busselton is located. The Wardandi people, the salt water people, are closely linked to the ocean and utilised the wetlands along the coast as a food source. Birds, fish, kangaroos and small marsupials were plentiful during the various seasonal changes. This way of life was disrupted following the establishment of the Swan River Colony and subsequent exploration of the Vasse and Wonnerup estuaries by the British Royal Navy in 1829.

The commercial harvesting of fine hardwood timbers in the region began in the late 1840s with the logs being shipped from McGibbon’s jetty near Quindalup. Governor Frederick Weld saw the value of timber as an export commodity, and replaced short term leases with larger, long term timber concessions. This attracted external investors, particularly from Victoria where considerable wealth had been generated from the successful gold rushes of the 1850s and 1860s. Three companies were then granted a concession at this time. Each company had to provide its own mill, railway and port for shipping the timber.

The first concession agreement was with the Western Australian Timber Company (the Company), which began advertising for shares in August 1869. A syndicate of Victorian investors from Ballarat was granted 181,500 acres of land, and by June 1870 the preliminary works had commenced under management of Mr George Simpson. The agreement with the Government included provisions for the first land grant railway in the state of 2000 acres of land for each mile of railway constructed. This concession did not specify the location of the land granted, and was only awarded if the Government was satisfied with the infrastructure provided by the Company.

Geographe Bay was the chosen port, and tenders were advertised in June 1870 to construct the bridge and jetty and to clear land for the railway line. The saw mill and jetty were erected at Lockeville along with a railway leading to the Company’s jarrah timber station 30 km inland at Yoganup. The railway was completed in June 1871, but delays with the locomotive meant the Company could not officially commence operations. Meanwhile, small townships developed at both ends of the railway, and boarding houses were built for the men employed at the site.

The locomotive arrived by September 1871, and was the first steam locomotive in the state. It was built in Ballarat, Victoria, by Mr James Hunt of the Victoria Foundry, and named “Ballaarat” [sic] after the original spelling of the town’s name.

In 1877, there were reports that the jetty was in a poor state of repair and the locomotive was found to be in a dilapidated condition. After periods of financial difficulties, the Company was liquidated in 1888, and its assets were auctioned in Melbourne. The new owners did not reopen the mills and the railway was left to rust.

In May 1895 the WA Government purchased the land, railway, mill and machinery of the Company with the rights of the timber concession for £3000. The timber concession was then leased to the English-based Jarrah Wood and Saw Mills Company (J.W & S.M Company) for 21 years in November 1897. The WA Government Railway (WAGR) had been opened to Busselton previously in 1894, so the J.R & S.M Company built their private railway from Wonnerup siding following the 1871 WA Timber Company line, but bypassing Lockeville altogether. By this time, the rails of the 1871 line were still in situ, but were too light and in poor condition. The new line was 37km long and lead to the new company saw mill at Jarrahwood. The J.W & S.M Company was later absorbed into the Millars Combine in 1902. In 1907, the government purchased the railway line, and it was eventually extended to Nannup in 1909.

The “Ballaarat” [sic] was later stored in a shed, where it was damaged by a fire in 1900. In 1925 the locomotive was delivered to the Midland Junction workshops where it was restored with the plan to be exhibited at Perth railway station, but it remained at the workshops for several years. In 1929, it was displayed in the 1929 WA Centenary pageant. The “Ballaarat” [sic] returned to Busselton in October 1937, where it was displayed in Victoria Square until 2017. It has since been relocated to Railway House on Busselton Foreshore after preservation works undertaken with a Lotterywest Grant.

2021 marks 150 years since construction of Route of the Ballarat Railway Line and the arrival of the steam locomotive. In celebration of this anniversary, the City of Busselton is planning an exhibition and requested submissions from the public of their memories with the “Ballaarat” [sic] locomotive.

Place Type

Other Built Type

Uses

Epoch General Specific
Present Use Transport\Communications Rail: Other
Original Use Transport\Communications Rail: Other

Historic Themes

General Specific
TRANSPORT & COMMUNICATIONS Rail & light rail transport

Creation Date

17 Feb 1997

Publish place record online (inHerit):

Approved

Last Update

19 Oct 2021

Disclaimer

This information is provided voluntarily as a public service. The information provided is made available in good faith and is derived from sources believed to be reliable and accurate. However, the information is provided solely on the basis that readers will be responsible for making their own assessment of the matters discussed herein and are advised to verify all relevant representations, statements and information.