In the Hinterlands of Australia

Remember what I said in my last blog post about friends sending me links, photos and news items having to do with railroads ? 

Well, Gerry in Perth has done it this time. Apparently, for whatever reason, he is looking through his old photo albums and discovered a few gems he thought I might possibly be interested in. Of course I am.

Here is the first one:

I'll let Gerry explain:

"This was a very narrow guage engine, made in the Midland workshops in Perth, used in the Leonora goldfields (about 800km NW of Perth in semi-desert country). The mine was Sons of Gwalia, and was the deepest incline mine at its time in the southern hemisphere. It was used on the "woodlines", where it ran on portable track and was used to collect wood for the goldmine in Leonora (both for running the steam engines and for props in the mine).

The mine closed in 1962 (since re-opened as an open cut) and shortly after, the mine and plant were decommissioned. There were three of these engines, and two were cut up for scrap before an angry mob of townspeople stopped the destruction of the third. It is still at the Gwalia mine museum in Leonora."


There is a bit more in the newsletter from the Sons of Gwalia Mine Museum:

The Story of Two Locos Called Leonora

Arlene Collings

When the Sons of Gwalia mine began to be developed in 1898, bush mulga trees were cut for the steam boilers, mining timbers and the gold processing. At first this timber was transported to the mine by camel.
In 1902 a narrow gauge (20-inch) woodline was laid. This initially ran south towards Kookynie for about 56km. The network of woodlines became immense. By December 1963, 120,000 hectares
of timber had been cleared.

The timber cutters lived in camps at the end of the line. The first steam loco used on this line was “Leonora”, built in England by Kerr Stuart and Co, Stoke on Trent. This little engine worked hard until 1915 when it was withdrawn and scrapped.

There were four other woodline engines: “Gwalia” 1902-1940; “Koppel” 1911-1955; “Fowler” 1916-1963 and “Midland” (Ken) 1934- 1963. Today remnants of Fowler and Koppel and a restored Midland (Ken) are on display at the Gwalia Museum.

Another steam loco was built by Hunslet Engine Co Leeds, England, and was of a 3ft 6in gauge. In 1884, known as “D6”, the locomotive was used as a jetty shunter at Fremantle and sometimes worked on the main line as far as Chidlows Well. By 1900-03 it was working as a shunter on the Bunbury jetty.

In 1903, the locomotive was renamed “Leonora”, and was purchased by the Leonora Municipal Tramways. Interestingly, after the tramway opened on 6 October 1903, school children were transported free of charge to the Central School.

The little loco ran on lines between Leonora and Gwalia until 1908 when it was sold to Bunning Bros and used at their Argle, Lyall, Muja and Tullis sawmills until 1951. In 1956 it was sold for scrap.

There were three trailer cars built for the loco by Thomas Wardle and Co of Fremantle. These were double decked; when the line was an electric tram in 1908 the upper decks of these trailers were removed. 


Gerry has more photos to share from a ride on the Pichi Richi Railway. Stay tuned.