Eastern Railway 1884 - 1966

The construction of the Eastern Railway from Guildford to Chidlow’s Wells in 1884 helped to change and develop the hills region. Where before people had been able to move things by using horses, and even by manual labour, railway transport revolutionised the access to timber, rocks, and farm produce.  It was quicker, cheaper, and could take much larger volumes of materials.

 

In some cases, where railway construction camps had been created, small communities developed. In others land grants, and the releasing crown land, allowed people start up farms and housing lots adjacent to the railway line.

When the original Eastern railway line proved too steep and difficult for heavier trains that were taking materials to the Eastern Goldfields, the government built another line through John Forrest National Park in 1895. This joined the older line at Mount Helena and required the excavation of a railway tunnel at Swan View.

 

There were now two railway lines crossing the Darling Scarp, and the opportunities for small communities to have their own railway stations or stopping places, to ship out products and provide transport into Perth.

 

Already in operation long before the railways were built, the timber industry expanded rapidly. It was able to place sawmills next to the railway to ship out timber faster and cheaper than before.  The industry also built small temporary tramways that could go into logging areas to bring out the heavier timber.

 

Another industry that relied heavily on the railway system was the quarrying of rock.  The rock from the Darling Scarp was important for the building industry, the building of roads, and reinforcing the North Mole at Fremantle Harbour.

 

Quarrying had also started before the railway but had benefited greatly by the opportunity to haul large amounts of rock down to Perth and Fremantle. The quarries of Boya and Greenmount would not have existed if it had not been for the railways being available.

 

The transport of people by the two railway lines also changed the hills, as people who did not have their own form of transport, could afford to build or rents houses in the small communities that had developed around the railway stopping places.

 

Some industries that benefited greatly, and which might not be so obvious today, were that of the fruit and poultry businesses that flourished around Glen Forrest and Nyaannia.

 

The fruit orchards of the Glen Forrest area in the time of World War 1 were extensive, with the Glen Forrest railway station being one of the largest fruit exporting railway stations at that time.

 

The Nyannia poultry industry was also highly reliant upon the railway system when it was at its peak.

 

What the expansion of the two routes of the Eastern Railway across the Darling Scarp did between the 1880s and the 1940s was help the development of many of the important communities and industries of the hills.

 

Competition from buses and other private forms of transport made the original Eastern Railway line between Boya and Mount Helena financially unviable. On 23 January 1954, the last passenger train used this line.

 

 In the 1950s to the 1960s the remaining railway line from Bellevue through to Wooroloo continued to provide important connections for the industries that were able to utilise the railway service, as well as for local passengers. However, changing economic circumstances, especially the need for a standard gauge track throughout Australia, lead to the State and Federal Governments’ decision to build a new dual gauge track from East Northam to Midland, through the Avon Valley.  Despite vocal opposition from Hills’ residents, the Eastern Railway line from Wooroloo through to Bellevue closed on 13 February 1966.

Image: (Note this is not viewable on mobile phone). Glen Forrest 1905. SLWA b_2534391_3. In the right hand side of the background photo you can see the Octagonal Hall (erected 1897), which is the building second from the right. You can also see the church to the left of the Octagonal Hall. 

Glen Forrest 1905 SLWA_b2534391_3
Glen Forrest 1905 SLWA_b2534391_3
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Chidlow's Well Train Station, 1898
Chidlow's Well Train Station, 1898
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Parkerville Station with picnickers, 1932. MHHS Collection
Parkerville Station with picnickers, 1932. MHHS Collection
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Beechina Railway Station. Date unknown.
Beechina Railway Station. Date unknown.
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Diesel railcar emerging from the Swan View tunnel - RAIL HERITAGE WA IMAGE
Diesel railcar emerging from the Swan View tunnel - RAIL HERITAGE WA IMAGE
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Entrance to Swan View Tunnel, c. 1905 SLWA_b1763470_1
Entrance to Swan View Tunnel, c. 1905 SLWA_b1763470_1
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Hovea Railway Station. Date unknown.
Hovea Railway Station. Date unknown.
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Darlington Railway Station 1954
Darlington Railway Station 1954
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Eastern Railway Facts

1898 Mundaring Weir Branch Line

Built by the PWD for the Goldfields Water Supply Scheme, sold to the WAGR in 1909, then leased to the GWSS until the line closed in 1952.

The sidings were as follows:

1898 MUNDARING VINEYARD renamed WONYIL 1927

1927 O’CONNOR

1937PORTAGABRA

1919 KARDA MORDO

1922 MUNDARING WEIR STATION

 

Private Timber Co. Lines (Tramways)

1905 - 1925 BUNNINGS PERTH JARRAH SAWMILLS (Mt. Helena)

1919 - 1922 PERTH FIREWOOD COMPANY (Sawyers Valley)

 

Passenger and Goods Services

1884 – 1966 PERTH TO CHIDLOW

1884 – 1954 MUNDARING BRANCH LINE

1898 – 1951 MUNDARING WEIR  BRANCH LINE

1960 – 1965 MIDLAND TO KOONGAMIA

1900 – 1965 MIDLAND TO HELENA VALE RACE COURSE BRANCHLINE

 

Eastern Railway Original Route 1884 - 1896

1884 GREENMOUNT

1889 DARLINGTON VINEYARD relocated and renamed DARLINGTON 1892

1884 SMITH’S MILL (renamed GLEN FORREST 1915)

1884 MAHOGANY CREEK SIDING (for ballast) platform built 1891

1891 GUGERI’S SIDING renamed MUNDARING 1894 relocated MUNDARING STATION 1898

1884 SAWYERS VALLEY

1884 WHITE’S MILL relocated and renamed LION MILL 1892 renamed MOUNT HELENA 1924

1884 CHIDLOW’S WELL renamed CHIDLOW 1920

1886 LACEY’S NO.3 MILL renamed BEECHINA 1902 (original route, not used after 1927)

1893 BYFIELD’S MILL renamed WOOROLOO 1896

1884 51 MILE SIDING renamed WERRIBEE 1897

 

Eastern Railway New Route 1896 – 1966 (through Tunnel)

1941 AMHERST ROAD relocated and renamed BLACKBOY HILL 1950

1896 SWAN VIEW

1936 NATIONAL PARK

1912 HOVEA

1896 PARKERVILLE

1902 ADAM & DOWIE’S SIDING renamed STONEVILLE 1905

Line joined back onto Original Eastern Railway

LION MILL 1892 renamed MOUNT HELENA 1924

1884 CHIDLOW’S WELL renamed CHIDLOW 1920

1886 LACEY’S NO.3 MILL renamed BEECHINA 1902 (original route, not used after 1927)

1905  BEECHINA renamed DOCONING 1929 (line duplicated, down main)

1927 BEECHINA (up main)

1927 - 1953 SANATORIUM SIDING

WOOROLOO 1896

WERRIBEE 1897

Smith’s Mill / Mundaring Branch Line 1896

1896 24 MILE SIDING renamed BELLEVUE JUNCTION 1897

1900 HELENA VALE RACE COURSE

1884 GREENMOUNT

1901 BOYA

1889 DARLINGTON

1884 SMITH’S MILL renamed GLEN FORREST 1915

1936 NYAANIA

1884 MAHOGANY CREEK

1903 ZAMIA

1898 MUNDARING STATION

1884 SAWYERS VALLEY

1892 LION MILL renamed MOUNT HELENA 1924

Map Eastern Railway Network .jpg