Pemberton-Northcliffe Railway & Railway Station


Shire of Manjimup

Place Number



Pemberton to Northcliffe

Location Details

Pemberton Railway Station is on Channyberrup Rd, Pemberton.

Other Name(s)

Pemberton to Northcliffe Railway
Pemberton Tramway & Railway Station

Local Government



South West

Construction Date

Constructed from 1926, Constructed from 1933

Demolition Year


Statutory Heritage Listings

Type Status Date Documents
State Register Permanent 07 Sep 2006 HCWebsite.Listing+ListingDocument, HCWebsite.Listing+ListingDocument

Other Heritage Listings and Surveys

Type Status Date Grading/Management
Classified by the National Trust Classified {HS} 08 Jul 1996
Statewide Railway Heritage Surve Completed 01 Mar 1994
Municipal Inventory Adopted 10 Jul 1997 Category A+

Child Places

  • 15404 Warren River Railway Bridge, Picton to Northcliffe Railway

Statement of Significance

Aesthetic, Historic, Rarity, Representativeness, Scientific and Social

Physical Description

The Pemberton-Northcliffe Railway comprises • a standard plan timber iron railway station; • a 3ft 6ins gauge railway line, 36km long between Pemberton and Northcliffe; • seven railway bridges, and; • remains of a station platform formation and a two ton crane at Northcliffe. The line follows an irregular path, exploiting the terrain to minimize cutting and filling and making creek crossings at negotiable points. It crosses East Brook and Lefroy Brook, tributaries of the Warren River, passing to the east of the Cascades, a well known water feature. It then crosses the Warren River, and Dombakup Brook on route to Northcliffe. The line snakes through State forest and developed farmland. Sidings are located along the track at Cascades, Brockman, Yeagarup, Dombakup and Terry’s Siding. The track crosses roads in both towns and along the path, ending in Northcliffe at a platform formation to the east of the town. The track passes through areas of developed landscape, re-growth forest and bush. Native species along the track include re-growth Karri (Eucalyptus diversicolor), Marrie (Eucalyptus calophylla), Peppermint Trees, Banksias (Banksia lottoralis and grandis), Zamia, Hovea among others. Pemberton Railway Station • Located on levelled area, surrounded by shrubs and trees and grasses area; • track ladder; • Timber and iron station house with single sided awning; • Timber and iron male toilet; • Timber and iron store; • Skillion roofed corrugated iron clad goods shed with iron clad skillion roof; • Station is a rectangular building with corrugated iron gabled roof; • Situated on a low level platform; • Three rooms; • Broken back roofed verandah; • Walls clad with timber weatherboards; • Four doors with highlight windows along platform; • Two double hung sash windows, and; • Interior has timber floors, fibrous cement lined walls, ceilings and fireplaces. Northcliffe Station • All that remains is a timber construction platform formation; • Bitumen paving, and; • An iron construction two ton crane at opposite end. Tracks and Bridges • Single track on timber sleepers; • Laid on ballast through cuttings, on fill and on bridges; • Eastbrook Bridge is concrete and steel; • Bob’s Bridge (54.8m long and 7.3m high) spans water course. Timber trestle bridge with steel top comprising six spans and piled abutments clad with stone pitching; • Lefroy Bridge (37m long and 5.5m high) spans water course. Timber piled and concrete piers and abutments, steel spans and timber log beams; • Cascade Bridge (37m long and 8m high) spans water course. Timber piled and concrete piers, stone clad timber abutments, steel spans and timber log beams. Water tower to west of track supplied water to steam locomotives; • Redgum Bridge (50m long and 9m high) spans water course. Two timber construction trestles of four piles each and two concrete piers with steel spans. Timber piled abutments sheeted with stone pitching; • Warren River Bridge (127m long and up to 10m high) is most impressive bridge on line. Laid to a curve with a cross camber on deck. Traditional construction preserved. Built of timber, comprising four tall pile timber trestles, two with outrigger piles and stays, timber piled abutments with timber sheeting and stone pitching. Picturesque setting, and; • Dombakup Bridge is a timber trestle bridge with concrete abutments.


The Pemberton-Northcliffe Railway comprises a standard plan timber and iron railway station, and a 3ft 6ins gauge railway line, 36 km in length between Pemberton and Northcliffe, which include seven railway bridges. The station was built in 1926 and the railway line and bridges were constructed in 1929-33. Many of the bridges contain repair material, including concrete piers to replace trestles and steel beams to replace timber. At the Northcliffe end of the line, there is the remains of a station platform formation and a two ton crane. European settlement in the Pemberton region began when Pemberton Wallcott took up grazing land in the area know as ‘Big Brook’ in 1862. In the early 1860s Edward Reveley Brockman had established a pastoral station on the Warren in the present day Pemberton district . Prior to 1910 the area between Pemberton and the coast was occupied by some of the early grazing families who began to establish farms for cattle and horses. The history of railways in Western Australia began in the 1880s when numerous schemes were proposed for the private development of railways in the state. Two came to fruition, the Great Southern Railway connecting Beverley and Albany in 1889 and the Midland to Walkaway Railway which was delayed and finally opened in 1894. After 1890 the railway programs were extended and in 1896 the South-Western railway was extended from Bunbury to Bridgetown, leading to a new period of development in the South-West. The extension of the line to Jarnadup (later re-named Jardee) was opened in July 1911. Pemberton townsite was first settled in 1912 after the establishment of the State Saw Mill No 3. It was only officially named Pemberton in October 1925. The sawmills were to supply the sleepers for the Trans- Australian Railway. The timber industry which grew up provided extensive employment and accommodation was built for the workers and their families in Pemberton in the years that followed. The line between Jarnadup and Big Brook continued in operation, the primary purpose being to transport timber for the mills. Big Brook became a thriving mill town, with a hall, store, staff accommodation, mill workers’ cottages and single en’t huts and two boarding houses. The 1920s was a period of growth in Pemberton (Big Brook). In 1920, in the aftermath of World War One, economic conditions deteriorated in Britain. It was decided to expand the migration policy, sending 75,000 migrants to Western Australia in what became known as the Group Settlement Scheme. To service the Group Settlements it had been planned to extend the railway line from Jarnadup to Pemberton and from there through Northcliffe to Westcliffe and eventually to Albany. This did not happen until 1929-33 with the extension to Westcliffe never being implemented. In the mid-1920s group settlers requested that the government railways take over the State Saw Mill’s railway line from Jarnadup to Pemberton to provide a public service. This was agreed on condition the line would be up-graded and station facilities built prior to handover. In 1926 the Jardee-Pemberton line was re-laid with heavier rails. A large traffic office 26ft x 14ft 6ins, which included accommodation for parcels’ traffic was designed The Ladies’Waiting Room was to be a separate building. In addition there were to be a Goods Shed 3rd Class, storeroom, stationmaster’s house, trainmen’s barracks and a stock yard. The additional facilities included a timber out-of-shed, and engine shed, goods shed and railway station which were completed in May 1927. Goods and people destined for the Group Settlements at Northcliffe travelled by rail to Pemberton and then by road to Northcliffe, where a timber mill was established and also a store. In 1929 plans were drawn for the extension of the railway line from Pemberton to Northcliffe, including the necessary bridges across Eastbrook, Big Brook, the Warren River and Dombakup Brook. In May 1929 work commenced on the Pemberton-Northcliffe Railway which was 22 miles 16 chains in length. Most of the bridge plans for the railway, sometimes shown as Picton- Northcliff Sec were drawn by I Harvey and signed by J A Ellis, Engineer for Railway Construction on 7 October 1929. Utilising only cut, fill and bridges for its entire length at an estimated cost of £10,000 per mile, the line would be unique in Western Australia, and would prove to be the most expensive railway line per mile of any government built railway by the date of completion in 1933. Wandoo sleepers were used on the line, whereas jarrah sleepers were more commonly used for rail sleepers. By late 1930 Western Australia was in the depths of the Great Depression. 120 men were employed on the rail building work on a half time basis, working alternate weeks. This was a common arrangement in this period to provide work for as many workers as possible. The question of closing the project was raised, but it was decided to continue the work on a reduced basis. A dam was built to provide a permanent supply of water for the locomotives. In 2004 the site is one of the features pointed out during journeys on the Pemberton Tramway. On the main line a mixture of karri, jarrah and wandoo sleepers were used. As the cost of the project had blown out considerably, it was decided to terminate the line at Northcliffe rather than Westcliffe. In November 1933 the line was opened for traffic. In the first year of operation, the line ran at a heavy loss, and so its closure was proposed. However, prospects of the expansion of timber milling operations in the area kept the line open, only to have it prove a heavy drain on the state when the expansion did not materialize. For 50 years the line did provide an important transportation link which allowed the development of the region, bringing to it the necessary farm materials, including superphosphate, and carrying away the timber and agricultural produce of the area, as well as providing transport for people. In 1949 the Ladies’ Waiting room, the out of shed and a timber cabin oil room were removed from the Pemberton railway station complex. In 1961 the bridge across the Warren River was damaged by fire, necessitating repairs. In 1972 the engine shed was sold for $60. In December 1986 the Pemberton to Northcliffe Railway was closed to traffic. In 1987 it was leased to Mr R Pearson, trading as Pemberton Tramway Co to be developed as a tourist venture, operating as a light railway. That same year the tourist tramway was officially opened, utilizing three light-weight rail cars, custom made by Willis Light Engineering of Rivervale. The condition of the track, and the density of the terrain made the Pemberton-Northcliffe trip a day long excursion. Ownership of the company moved away from Pearson. In 1994 the railway was included in the statewide Railway Survey. In July 1996 the tramway was classified by the National Trust of Australia. It was considered ‘an engineering masterpiece, including some of the finest timber bridge construction in the State. A conservation plan was proposed, but this has not been prepared yet. Regular repairs and maintenance have been carried out as required. In July 1997 the place was included in the Shire of Manjimup Municipal Heritage Inventory and recommended for entry into the Register of Heritage Places. In 1998 the bridges were assessed and 5 of them rated as highly significant. In 2004, the Pemberton-Northcliffe Railway continues to operate as the Pemberton Tramway on a twice daily basis as far as the Warren River Bridge. Journeys to Northcliffe are seldom made. The Tramway is a well known tourist attraction in South-West with more than 30,000 visitors per annum. The Pemberton Railway Station continues in use as an office and shop for Tramway business.


Integrity: Good Authenticity: Good




Name Type Year From Year To
Public Works Department Architect - -

State Heritage Office library entries

Library Id Title Medium Year Of Publication
7025 Images CD No. 29 : assessment images : Watermark Kilns, House Briald Place, Pemberton Tramway, Church of Christ Tabernacle. C D Rom 2004

Place Type

Precinct or Streetscape


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

Architectural Styles


Construction Materials

Type General Specific
Other OTHER Other Material
Wall TIMBER Weatherboard
Other METAL Steel
Other CONCRETE Other Concrete
Roof METAL Corrugated Iron
Other TIMBER Other Timber
Other TIMBER Log

Historic Themes

General Specific
OCCUPATIONS Timber industry
TRANSPORT & COMMUNICATIONS Rail & light rail transport

Creation Date

19 Jul 1996

Publish place record online (inHerit):


Last Update

01 Jan 2017


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.