Off and On all over the place

All over the place :),

Bakers Hill, Spencers Brook, York, Grass Valley, Hoddys Well, and Mount Hardey. Jobs ranged from site checks, road re-alignment and line marking on the railway crossings.

York Railway Station 1885 – 1991 Still standing..

All the places I worked had links back to railway stations. Although I understand the need for change, I somehow feel that getting rid of our railway infrastructure seems to be a step in the wrong direction. Maybe if everyone is plugged into the net there will be no need for mass transit in the future, who knows?


Spencers Brook 1885 – 1991
No longer there road was built over the top.


Bakers Hill 1897 – 1991


Hoddy’s Well: 1888 – 1966 :  Railway no longer there

Grass Valley:  1894 – 1966 : Railway no longer there

Mount Hardey: 1885 – 1995: Siding no longer there. Rail traffic to Quairading stopped in 2013

Railway 1922
Railway map 1922

The image above shows the extent of our rail infrastructure by the 1920’s .More than 70% of the stations/sidings listed above no longer exist. Many of the towns still and many exist in name alone.

Whilst researching these rail lines I came across a railway map from 1907 showing many of the towns I worked in over the past few weeks. Interestingly I found no mention of Wundowie or Coates siding between  Werribee and Bakers Hill as shown in the map above.

1907 Railway Map


What is shown is the siding called Karrijine which existed between 1901 and 1918 the location was close to the Coates siding and the cut in for the spur line is still there today hidden in the bush.


Karrijine 1902

I wonder if the two men by the train and the boy at the station had any idea of the future. Two world wars, the passing of trains and their town forgotten.

Karrijine location

On further investigation, it appears that the government set aside land for the Karrijine town to be expanded on. This land is now called Coates Reserve which is kind of ironic as Mr Coates wanted the land for himself to clear it for farming and the neighbouring Wundowie Iron and steel industry wanted the forestry reserve for charcoal to feed their furnaces. Both Mr Coates and the Iron and steel industry have long passed leaving only distant memories behind.


Around the Narrogin Area

For the past week, I have been based down at Narrogin, didn’t want to leave lappy in the motel hence no posts.

Let’s see, we were working (not me personally I just stand around watching) out at Notting (Near Kondinin),  North Kukerin (not far from Lake Grace), North Moulyinning (near Lake Dumbleyung) and out at Williams.

Besides the Mosquitoes, the big Ram at Wagin, the Blue Bird replica,  rabbit-proof fence out at Dumbleyung lots of old farms railways. the odd lake and strangely named towns like Piesseville (they must get drunk a lot) there isnt much to see down that way : )


Piesseville Hall
Piesseville Hall

History: Piesseville

In the 1860s, early settlers came to the area to graze their flocks, but the first official records of it began in 1889 when the Great Southern Railway opened, and a siding called Buchanan River was opened.

In 1897, the Government set aside land for subdivision here, and in 1903 lots were surveyed and the town of Buchanan gazetted. The land agent at Katanning reported considerable interest, and a hall, school and other facilities had been completed by 1904.

However, the name clashed with a town in New South Wales (now little more than a historic gallery outside Kurri Kurri in the Hunter Region), so the town was renamed Barton in 1905 to honour Australia’s first prime minister (1901-1903), Sir Edmund Barton. However, after the construction of the Trans-Australian Railway in 1917, another railway station named after Barton in the South Australian stretch of the Nullarbor Plain led to another name change – this time to Piesse, after two prominent residents Frederick Henry Piesse and Charles Austin Piesse, in December 1918. Five years later, the town was changed to its present name – its fourth in 20 years.

Piesseville today is more of an agricultural locality, although the original 1904 hall still stands.

Cons 5698 Item 1397
Buchanan, Barton, Piesse town map 1928



The Big Ram Wagin

The Big Ram (also known as the Giant Ram) is the second largest in the southern hemisphere, measuring 15 metres in length and seven metres in height.

The Giant Ram Tourist Park was officially opened on the 14 of September 1985 by the Honorable DK Dans, Minister for Tourism. The majestic structure celebrates the town’s prosperity and reliance on the wool industry.

Dumbleyung Lake

Dumbleyung Lake, also widely known as Lake Dumbleyung, is a salt lake in the Great Southern region of Western Australia. The lake has a length of 13 kilometres and a width of 6.5 kilometres , it covers a total area of 52 square kilometres .

Dumbleyung Lake received world recognition when Donald Campbell broke the world water speed record on it on 31 December 1964, travelling at 444.66 km/h (276.3 mph) in his boat Bluebird K7. A granite memorial to Campbell can be seen at Pussy Cat Hill, a prominent feature and vantage point to view the entire lake area.

The Bluebird K7 replica in Dumbleyung.


Donald Malcolm Campbell CBE (23 March 1921 – 4 January 1967) was a British speed record breaker who broke eight absolute world speed records on water and on land in the 1950s and 1960s. He remains the only person to set both world land and water speed records in the same year (1964). He died during a speed attempt at the Lake District in northern England. His body was recovered only in 2001 his head still missing.

World speed records established by Donald Campbell

Speed Record Vehicle Location Date
325.60 km/h Water Bluebird K7 Ullswater 1955
347.94 km/h Water Bluebird K7 Lake Mead 1955
363.12 km/h Water Bluebird K7 Coniston Water 1956
384.75 km/h Water Bluebird K7 Coniston Water 1957
400.12 km/h Water Bluebird K7 Coniston Water 1958
418.99 km/h Water Bluebird K7 Coniston Water 1959
444.71 km/h Water Bluebird K7 Lake Dumbleyung 1964
648.73 km/h Land Bluebird CN7 Lake Eyre 1964



Great Eastern Highway

I’m back from holidays down south, did you miss me lol

Road repair Great Eastern Highway: Kellerberrin.

Ok, so we are back here to patch the patch and will be for the next few days. I’m told that a permanent fix will occur sometime in the next few months. I guess it comes down to the budget and what MainRoads are allowed to spend on this section of the road.


Great Eastern and Great Southern Highways

Road repair Malabaine, Great Eastern Highway and Beverley, Great Southern Highway. Ummmm pothole repairs.


The only thing I can find out about Malabaine is the  Kunine Train Station which was part of the Northam to Merredin railway line (via Wyalkatchem), and that the Northam Racecourse is part of the Malabaine district.


I found the dedication near the road. I couldn’t find any reference to a car accident in this area, maybe it was a near miss.



Beverley: Addington

While researching the old Addington railway siding just up from where we were working I found some interesting history about the area.

James MacLean Dempster (1810 - 1890)

James  McLean Dempster (1810-1890), mariner and grazier, was born in June 1810 in Scotland, on his father’s estate, Muresk. At 14 he ran away to sea and gained his master’s ticket ten years later. In 1829 he was engaged by Captain Charles Pratt to skipper his Eagle, in which the Pratt family migrated to the Swan River settlement, arriving in January 1830. A few years later, despite parental opposition, Dempster married Pratt’s daughter, Anne Ellen; they had seven children.

A colourful character with a liking for adventure, Dempster had a varied career. Soon after he arrived at Fremantle he bought the schooner Mary Ann, 120 tons, in which he traded between Australia and Mauritius and then tried pearling on the north-west coast. After his marriage Dempster took up land on Rottnest Island where he grew hay and bred horses with some success and probably supervised the construction of some of the first buildings. He received much publicity in September 1838 when he took a whaleboat and Aboriginal crew to rescue the complement of the Lancier wrecked on Straggler Reefs. He was duly rewarded by the government of Mauritius despite the accidental loss of a chest with 7000 sovereigns. From Rottnest he moved to the Beverley district, where he established the property Addington. He had some trouble with Aboriginals and was reputed to have shot Turkey Cock, a notorious fellow who was chasing him with spear poised.

Dempster managed Buckland, his father-in-law’s 8000-acre (3238 ha) estate near Northam, but soon fell out with Pratt, returned to the sea and took sheep and the bloodhorse Sonnambulist to Mauritius. The venture was unsuccessful and Dempster went to Rottnest as superintendent of the penal settlement in April 1850. He became reconciled with Pratt and on 2 April 1853 returned to Buckland, where he died in May 1890. His wife had died on 6 August 1880 and on 31 December he married Hester Frances Shaw.


So after finding out about who established Addington, I wondered where the homestead was. After a few hour of research, I found an old map from 1849 showing the location being at the junction of the Dale and Avon River. Interestingly the property appears to belong to of C. Pratt (Captain Charles Pratt).

Addington 1849

When I overlayed a Google Map, I found what appears to be some old ruins.



When I get some time I will go out there and take a closer look.


By the way, they found the Lancier (1834-1839) in 1970, they never found the 7000 sovereigns which would be worth around $6.5 to $7.0 million dollars.

If you want to try your luck the site is located at the northern end of Hugél Passage, south of Stragglers Rocks, on Mewstone Reef.

Chart number: DMH 001, GPS position:

· Latitude 32° 04.7905 ‘ S · Longitude 115° 38.0115 ‘ E

Good Luck …


Great Eastern Highway

Road repair Great Eastern Highway Kellerberrin, Tammin and Grass Valley areas. Yes, more pothole repairs.


Grass Valley:

The name of Grass Valley is derived from an original property name, “Grass Valley” being the name given by William Nairn to the property he was assigned in 1833. The railway line from Northam to Southern was constructed through here in 1893-4, and this section opened for traffic in January 1895.

Grass Valley was one of the original stations when the line opened, and the government subdivided land in the area. Land for a townsite was set aside in 1898, and the townsite gazetted later that year.

Grass Valley town plan 1898



Grass Valley Lot prices 1898



Kellerberrin Rifle Club.


Formation of the Kellerberrin Rifle Club.  Saturday, 13th JUNE.  1908.

Opening Meeting: 13th October 1909



I’m not sure when the rifle club closed, an ASIC report shows that it was sometime in 2008

Beer Bottles


IMAG1285 1

Found these two beer bottles on the side of the road, big deal you might say, however, these ones were made by the West Australian Glass Manufacturers Proprietary Limited.

In 1964 the Perth and Fremantle Bottle Exchange became Western Australian Glass Manufacturing Co. in 1964. The company was liquidated in 1976.

These plain old beer bottles sell for around $30 each 🙂


Great Eastern Highway

Road repair Great Eastern Highway: Kellerberrin,  pothole repair.

Somewhat an unusual stretch of road, not only for the potholes but also for the let us say the eccentric locals in this area.  For instance:


Is someone trying to say that Kellerberrin is the home of the prickle farmers? Or is this just retribution for leaving a van parked in farmers paddock next to the highway.

Now we have all heard of trophy wives, but just down the road I found this:


Yes, it’s  a trophy tree.



For some reason, someone has nailed darts trophies to a tree, the years are from 2000 – 2009. The names on the trophies have been removed, go figure…


Great Eastern Highway

Road repair Great Eastern Highway: Tammin and Cunderdin areas. We are still repairing potholes on the Highway and probably will be doing the same next week.


More about Tammin:

Tammin is named after the tammar wallaby (now extinct on the mainland) which was the first Australian marsupial sighted by European explorers.

Another first is the large concrete wheat silos in the town, the first of their kind in Australia.

Tammin, Western Australia


Did you know that a young man from Tammin that went to Northam Senior High School named Leonard William Frearson became a Rhodes Scholar in 1947.



And just outside of town is Tammin Well. Constructed in 1865 by Charles Cooke Hunt (1833 to 1868)  passed by the area a number of times on his explorations out from York. It was once used as a watering point for prospectors and others en route to the Goldfields.



C. C. Hunt  was born in England in 1833,  and died in Geraldton on 1st March 1868, Aged 35 Years.

Surveyor, Draftsman, Explorer

Hunt Made Four Notable Journeys Of Exploration
Using The Tammin Well Each Time.

1864 – Hunt Explored Country East Of York, Discovered Hampton Plains

1864 – Koolyanobbing Expedition

1865 – Hunt Surveyed And Cleared Track, Now The Old Goldfields Road, Between York And The Present Kalgoorlie District.  He Constructed Wells And Soaks For Pastoralists Along The Route.

1866 – Hunt’s Longest Journey North Of Kurnalpi And South Of Lake Lefroy Made In Search Of Rich Pastoral Country.

The Watering Places, Including Hunt’s Well And Tammin Tank, Were Inestimable Value During The Goldrush Days.


Hunt also appears to be unlucky, not only did he die at an early age he also missed out on this:



 Great Eastern Highway

Road repair Great Eastern Highway: Malabaine,  Irishtown, Tammin and Kellerberrin areas. A little bit of travelling around today but at least the rain stayed away.



The first European to settle in the area was John Packham in 1893. The railway to Southern Cross was constructed through the area in 1894-95, and Tammin was one of the original stations when the line opened in 1895. As the surrounding area developed for agriculture, there was sufficient demand for land in the area for the government to declare a townsite, and Tammin townsite was gazetted in 1899.



The name Kellerberrin is Aboriginal, and is derived from the name of a nearby hill. The hill was first recorded as “Killaburing Hill” by an explorer in 1861, but in 1864 the explorer Charles Hunt recorded it as Kellerberrin Hill. One source claims that Kellerberrin is the name for the fierce ants that are found in the area, while another gives it as meaning “camping place near where rainbow birds are found” – kalla means camping place or place of, and berrin berrin is the rainbow bird.

Whilst doing some research on Northam the other day I came across this old photo taken in 1910

Photographic Positive – Lanternslide  Northam 1910

I think I found the spot it was taken from:

Northam 2017

So if your ever in Northam take a drive up Mt Ommanney and see if you too can find the spot where this image was taken.

There is an interesting story to the grave found close to here.

Iva 1



Great Eastern Highway

Road repair Great Eastern Highway Burlong and Irish Town areas.



Burlong Pool was a former railway stopping place, which was used as a location for drawing water into the water trains to the Eastern Goldfield locations prior to the completion of the Goldfields Water Supply Scheme.
During dry weather in the late 1890’s up to five separate water trains per day would be drawing water from the pool and travelling between Northam and the goldfields.

Northam Army Camp:

Since its establishment in 1935, Northam Army Camp has served as a military base, a prisoner of war detainment facility and a migrant holding camp.

The Defence Act of 1909 required that every Australian youth participate in military training. Junior cadets (aged 12 to 14) chiefly trained in schools while senior cadets (aged 14 to 18) were meant to complete 64 hours of training a year in organised companies and battalions.

The Citizen’s Forces (for 18 to 20 year olds) were to do 16 days training a year, eight of them in camp.

Training areas were established in Perth, North Perth, East Perth, Subiaco, Guildford, Victoria Park and Fremantle, as well as Kalgoorlie, Boulder, Albany, Geraldton and Bunbury. Typical training included parades, drills, rifle exercises, physical training, organised strategic games and examinations.

By the early 1930s, most of the training for both the Citizen’s Military Forces (CMF) and the smaller Permanent Military Forces (Militia) was held at Karrakatta. Facilities were limited and it was realised that the Citizen’s Forces would have to go into regional areas with different terrain and conditions if the standard of training was to improve.

The 1933/34 annual camp was held at Northam and the success of this and the camp at York the following year proved that to the authorities that they should establish a semi–permanent military camp in a regional area.

The decision was quickly made to hold the 1935/36 camp at Northam. With the aid of detachment of gunners from the Fremantle Artillery Barracks and horse teams from the Guildford Remount Depot, enough land was cleared to hold a tented training camp.

After the 1935/36 tent camp, plans for buildings to accommodate a complete infantry brigade were prepared by the Quartermaster General’s Office and the Works Branch of the Australian Army. However, building activity was slow.

When World War II broke out in September 1939, Northam Army Camp suddenly became the focus of frantic building activity.

By early October, 175 huts had been built. Some of the larger buildings, like the mess huts, were relocated from the World War I training camp at Blackboy Hill. Other buildings were constructed from materials recycled from Blackboy Hill.

Most of the buildings were timber framed clad with corrugated iron. The barrack buildings, each accommodating 48 men, were grouped together to form a company. Each company was serviced by a headquarters, a quartermaster’s store, cook house, mess hut and ablution block. Officers and senior NCOs had separate accommodation and mess.


Great Northern Hwy / Northam Pithara

Remove speed restriction signage out at a floodway near Ballidu

Road repair Great Northern Highway Waddington, Walebing and Glentromie areas until called off due to the high winds and rain.



A pioneering Victoria Plains pastoral station, that illustrates the rags-to-riches story of one of our early settlers.

Mr Macpherson arrived in the colony in 1839 as an indentured labourer and shepherd, and within six years was co-owner of a substantial pastoral lease in Victoria Plains in 1845. When the partnership dissolved, Mr Macpherson built Glentromie and, by the 1880s, it was acknowledged as one of the finest pastoral properties in the colony.

Most of the buildings, including the homestead, two-storey stable, shearing shed and barn, were built between 1863 and 1878. The handmade bricks were laid in a striking bi-chromatic, chequerboard pattern, illustrating the skill of the ticket-of-leave men who were employed through the Toodyay Convict Depot.

Donald Mcpherson’s story is echoed by many former indentured labourers and servants who prospered in Western Australia due to the desperate labour shortage in the early days of the colony and went on to become landowners – a situation they would never have achieved in Britain.

Glentromie Cemetery

On the way back home via Toodyay I took a photo of this


It’s the old railway trestle bridge at Ringa. This eighteen span wooden bridge was constructed in 1888 and was the largest wooden bridge in Western Australia at that time.  A little worse for wear and neglect the bridge still stands even after the devastating fires in the area a year or two ago.

The road under the bridge is the old Ringa road that leads to Clackline from Toodyay.

Ringa Bridge 1960
Google satellite image of bridge