inHerit Logo

Ballarat Engine, Victoria Sq


City of Busselton

Place Number

There no heritage location found in the Google fusion table.


Cnr Pries Av & Albert St Busselton

Location Details

Victoria Sq

Local Government



South West

Construction Date

Constructed from 1871

Demolition Year


Statutory Heritage Listings

Type Status Date Documents More information
(no listings)

Heritage Council Decisions and Deliberations

Type Status Date Documents
RHP - Does not warrant assessment Current 14 May 2004

Other Heritage Listings and Surveys

Type Status Date Grading/Management More information
Category Description
Classified by the National Trust Classified

Heritage Council
Statewide Railway Heritage Surve Completed 01 Mar 1994

Heritage Council

Statement of Significance

The Ballarat Engine has cultural heritage significance for its historic and industrial archaeological value as important evidence of the state’s first locomotive and railway line, developed for the timber industry, an important and early industry in the development of the State’s south-west.

Physical Description

The place comprises a park setting in Victoria Park, a simple timber shelter and the Ballarat Engine.


The Ballarat engine was the first train to be used in W.A. It was manufactured in Ballarat, Victoria in 1871. It was used by the West Australian Timber Co. for 15 years at Lockeville, Wonnerup, and eventually brought into Busselton for display and interpretive purposes.
The commercial harvesting of fine hardwood timbers from the forests nearby Busselton began in the late 1840s with the logs being shipped from McGibbon’s jetty near Quindalup. As the demand for timber increased its viability as an export commodity was soon recognized by the Colony’s new Governor, Frederick Aloysius Weld, who arrived in 1869.
The Jarrah, or Western Australian Mahogany, is only found in this Colony; it is unrivalled for railway sleepers; it is extraordinarily durable; in water it resists the attacks of the Teredo Navalis, and on land those of the white ant. There is a very large demand for it from India and the neighboring Colonies, which cannot be supplied from want of facilities for conveying the timber from the forests, and for shipping it.44
Weld wanted to encourage large-scale development of the State’s massive timber resources by replacing the existing system of short-term licenses with long-term leases or concessions that would attract outside investors, in particular from Victoria where considerable wealth had been generated from the gold rushes of the 1850s and 1860s.45 Following negotiations with the syndicates involved, the Home Office granted three concessions.

Each company had to provide its own mill, railway and port for shipping the timber. The West Australian Timber Company (referred to as the Ballarat Company in one contemporary account)46 was granted a concession of 181,500 acres at Yokanup (now referred to as Yoganup) with its seaport at Lockeville. The other syndicates were the Canning Jarrah Timber Company that was granted a concession on the Canning River where an existing wharf was used, and the Rockingham Jarrah Company’s concession at Jarrahdale with its port at Rockingham.
The agreement between the West Australian Timber Company and the government was signed on 29 July 1871. John McNeil operated as the company’s agent in Western Australia and was based at Lockeville, where he oversaw the construction of the jetty and railway, which would have included the building of the railway bridge over the Vasse estuary in order to take the line across to the jetty. To date, no reference has been found for the construction of the railway bridge that carried the rail line across the narrow channel (where the Vasse estuary joins the Wonnerup Inlet) to the jetty. It was a matter of local satisfaction that the Vasse could boast having the first locomotive and railway line in the State. In describing how the mill was progressing, an ‘correspondent’ in the 21 April 1871 edition of The Inquirer remarked:
We are anxiously looking for the arrival of the vessel from Melbourne bringing the locomotive for the W. A. Timber Coy railway. The works are progressing rapidly and it is rumored and generally believed, that His Excellency the Governor will pay us a visit for the purpose of opening the railway and saw mills on the 1st May. This will be a happy May Day for us and it may be easily imagined that we feel no small satisfaction in having this first railroad of the Colony within our district.
Governor Weld officially opened the railway line on 23rd December 1871,17 while the Jarrahdale-Rockingham line was opened in November 1872. The locomotive was originally named ‘Ballaarat’ by the Mayor of Melbourne after the original spelling of the town of Ballarat where it was built by James Hunt at the Victoria Foundry (now Phoenix Foundry). ‘It had a horsepower of 16 and had two cylinders of 7 inch diameter and a 14 inch stroke. Three wagons without springs were used on the timber train.’47 The timber had been hauled along the rails, originally made of jarrah, by horses before the arrival of the locomotive. Horses and later bullocks continued to be used in conjunction with the engine.


Integrity Notes: The engine is now a static display but retains a high degree of integrity

Authenticity Notes: The engine retains a high degree of authenticity.

High Degree/High Degree




Ref ID No Ref Name Ref Source Ref Date
Gunzburg A and Austin J;"Rails through the Bush: timber and firewood tramways and railway contractors of Western Australia" Light Railway Research Society of Australia, Melbourne, 1997
Heritage Council assesment documentation for "Ballarat Bridge, Vasse Floodates & Wonnerup Floodgates" Database No. 16727 2004
Newsletter;"Centenary of the State's First Railway" WAGR May 1971

Other Reference Numbers

Ref Number Description
PN003 MI Reference

Place Type

Other Built Type


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

Construction Materials

Type General Specific
Roof METAL Zincalume
Other CONCRETE Concrete Slab
Other TIMBER Log

Historic Themes

General Specific
TRANSPORT & COMMUNICATIONS Rail & light rail transport

Creation Date

07 Feb 1997

Publish place record online (inHerit):


Last Update

02 Feb 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.