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Eastern Railway - Three Bridges


Shire of Mundaring

Place Number

There no heritage location found in the Google fusion table.


Lot 10159 Great Eastern Hwy Hovea

Location Details

John Forrest National Park PERMANENTLY REGISTERED 14/2/03 AS PART OF 2660

Other Name(s)

Bridle/Walk Trail

Local Government




Construction Date

Constructed from 1882, Constructed from 1894

Demolition Year


Statutory Heritage Listings

Type Status Date Documents More information
Heritage List YES 08 Mar 2016
State Register Registered 24 Jul 1992 Register Entry
Heritage Council

Heritage Council Decisions and Deliberations

Type Status Date Documents
(no listings)

Other Heritage Listings and Surveys

Type Status Date Grading/Management More information
Category Description
Municipal Inventory Adopted 22 Apr 1997 1 - Exceptional significance

1 - Exceptional significance

Rare or outstanding example; essential to the heritage of the locality Expectations: The place should be retained and conserved. Any alterations or extensions should reinforce the significance of the place and be in accordance with a Conservation Plan if one is in place.

Classified by the National Trust Permanent 12 Jun 1989

Heritage Council
Classified by the National Trust Classified 12 Jun 1989

Heritage Council

Statement of Significance

The Eastern Railway reserves have very high significance to the State of Western Australia and in particular for the residents of the Shire of Mundaring. They have aesthetic and landscape significance for the areas they pass through and the pedestrian access they provide for the public. The Wooroloo Culvert and the Swan View Tunnel have particular aesthetic appeal for provoking ta sense of romance with the rail era. The reserves have historic and social significance for the impact on the development of the State abd the impact on peoples' lives. The walk trails today have high social significance for the recreation facility they provide for the community. The Eastern Railway reserves have scientific significance as an illustration of the engineering required in their construction as evidenced by the Swan View Tunnel, Wooroloo Culvert, trestle bridges and the numerous cuttings and embankments that still remain.

Physical Description

The rails and sleepers have long since been removed from most of the extensive network of railway reserves throughout the Shire. The most significant legacy that remains is the low gradient bridle and walk trails that now follow the paths left by the original railway lines together with several major structures and associated buildings. The walk trail system along the reserves was a programme undertaken for the 1988 Bi-centennial celebrations, at which time the areas around the original township railway stations were rehabilitated. A series of information shelters were also installed to provide a modicum of protection and house interpretive material relevant to the railway history and flora and fauna in that location. Many of these shelters have fallen into disrepair or have been vandalised. In the late 1980's, some sections of the reserves were also used as the route for the telecommunications optic fibre link to the Eastern States, the installation of which assisted with the rehabilitation of many sections of the trail network.
The trail along the reserves provides an informative historical record in itself as the engineering involved with its construction is illustrated by the extent and size of cuttings and embankments necessary to navigate through inhospitably hilly railway terrain. Good examples of this can be seen either side of the Darlington townsite with a deep cutting on the west along the edge of the Darlington Oval and a high embankment across the Nyaania Brook as the line moves east on its way to Glen Forrest. Remaining built structures along the reserves are few but fall into several categories. Firstly, the remains of old platforms which generally identifies some of the locations of stations in the townsites.
Secondly, there are engineering structure which remain as a monument to the technology of the day required to construct the railway. In many cases the structures of the bridges have been removed however a few examples exist such as the significant construction of the Swan View Tunnel in the John Forrest National Park . Three trestle bridges in the park remain but are buried in earth embankments used to stabilise them at a later time. A concrete bridge across the Jane Brook in the main picnic area of the park is a more prominent reminder but was not part of the original installation. The aesthetically pleasing arched stone culvert over the Wooroloo Brook, in Werribee Road, Wooroloo is one of the few remaining structures that captures some of the former romance of the railways. It has been well crafted and engineered and is still in exceptionally good condition.
The third category of structures are just off the actual lines and comprise the former railway houses of which only a few remain. These include the weaterboard Station-Master's House in Glen Forrest; the brick Station-Master's House in Jacoby Street, Mundaring and the Wooroloo Station-Master's House on the corner of Werribee and Government Roads. Glen Forrest and Mundaring are owned by the Shire and the Wooroloo house is now in private hands. They are all in reasonable condition but need to be maintained, particularly the weatherboard house at Glen Forrest which is under going restoration to become the base for the Mundaring Historical Society, and the Glen Forrest Residents and Ratepayers Association.


The Eastern Railway had an enormous impact on the area now covered by the Shire of Mundaring. Initially it;s construction created both direct and indirect employment. In most cases settlements which arose as service centres remain as today's local communities. The railway provided the means of relatively rapid and large scale transport for the important timber, quarrying, viticulture and agricultural industries. It allowed the movement of people for employment, recreation and education. By transporting mail, communications were facilitated between localities. For a period between the mid 1880's and the 1930's, the Eastern Railway replaced the York Road as the area's principle lifeline. On a statewide basis, it provided a link between Fremantle, Perth and the inland agricultural, pastoral and gold mining areas.
The first section of the Eastern Railway was constructed from Fremantle to Guildford and was officially opened on 1st march 1881. The successful tender John Robb, in common with the subsequent builders of the Eastern Railway, James Wright, Edward Keane and Smeaton & Hedges, came form South Australia. This is most likely because by the early 1880's. the South Australian economy, which had shown substantial growth from c.1875, was on the decline. The experienced contractors bought men and equipment by sea from Adelaide to Fremantle. After much debate and political lobbying during the first phase of construction, the Legislative Council decided that York should be the terminus of the Eastern Railway. In September 1881, the 53,043/10/9 pound contract for the second section from Guildford to Chidlow's Well was let to James Wright of Adelaide. He brought with him 610 tonnes of stores and equipment and 28 draught horses. His brother Arthur was in charge of the main construction camp located near the Government Quarry at Greenmount.
The main camp held up to 200 men and contains a workshop and forge. Further along the line were six smaller camps for the men blasting the cuttings with dynamite. After clearing 40 metres either side of the track, embankments were formed using the draught horses, heavy lpoughs and barrow men. The timber for the railway sleepers was supplied by the steam mill Wright had installed at what is now Mt Helena. The 30 men employed at the mill could produce 300 sleepers a day and by March 1883, they had provided 17,300. Ballast in the form of blue metal was taken from the Greenmount Quarry near the main construction camp. The earthworks took 2 years to complete and several delays were experienced. Problems with clay at 'Devil's Terror' cutting neat what is now the eastern end of Dairy Road, Darlington necessitated a diversion south-east and an extra 3 months of work at a cost of approximately 6,634 pounds.
This took the line closer to Nyaania Creek, resulting in its permanent re-routing. Once the earthworks were completed, the rails were ballasted at the rate of 500 metres per day. Four stations were built at Greenmount, Smiths Mill, Sawyers Valley and Chidlow's Well. The presence of the railway terminus was a boon to Chidlow's Well, which in November 1883, became the first gazetted townsite in what is now the Shire of Mundaring. The line was officially opened on 11th March 1884. On 22nd October 1883, the £ 105, 312/16/- contract for the final section from Chidlow's Well to York was let to 39 year old South Australian Edward Keane. Keane had worked with Wright on the second section and used both Wright's mill at Mt Helena and the expertise of his manager Thomas Riseley to complete the work. A workforce of over 600 men and 122 horses worked on the line, which did not encounter the same problems as the section from Guildford to Chidlow's Well. The Eastern Railway to York was officially opened by Governor Broome on 29th June 1885. Keane went on to build the privately owned Midland Railway from Midland Junction to Walkaway and the Upper Darling Range Railway from Canning Mills to Midland Junction.
With the construction of the Eastern Railway came the extension of saw milling activities on leased Crown land and improved accessibility for those already operating. These included Alfred and Thomas Smith at the York Greenmount Sawmill at Smiths Mill, Edmund Lacey who moved from Mahogany Creek to Sawyers Valley, and Alexander Forrest's Smith and Company. In addition it provided support for vignerons and orchardists such as Alfred Waylen at Darlington Vineyard (Site 131), Richard Hardey at Smiths Mill (Site 115), Charles Byfield at Mahogany Creek (Site 161), and Peter Gugeri at Mundaring (Site 20).
Soon after it was opened various problems began to surface Within months of its completion, an accident at 'Cape Horn' near Boya, highlighted difficulties with the railway's sharp curves and steep grades of 1 in 30. In addition, problems arose with providing a reliable clean water supply. This was eventually solved with the building of a reservoir near Chidlow's Well which is now Lake Leschenaultia (Site 200). Another problem for the Eastern Railway occurred when the opening up of the Eastern Goldfields escalated operating costs, and showed the original design to be inadequate for the increased volume and heavier traffic. As a result of these factors, Chief Engineer C.Y. O'Connor, who came to Western Australia for the Fremantle Harbour project, was instructed to find an alternative route through the Darling Range.
In March 1892, railway engineer John Muir gave a report to O'Connor which indicated that the best route was along Jane Brook. In November 1893, Adelaide firm Smeaton and Hedges were awarded the £ 47, 608/19/- contract to build the misnamed 'Mahogany Creek Deviation' from Bellevue to Lion Mill (Mt Helena) via a tunnel to be built through the rock at Swan View (Site 178). In February 1894, the main construction camp was set up at the site of the tunnel and men with picks, shovels and horses built 58 culverts and 6 jarrah trestle bridges. In the 1920s and 30s, these bridges were eventually replaced by steel, except for the 114 metre long one in John Forrest National Park which was covered by gravel and an earth embankment (Site 169). Similar problems to those encountered on the second section of the original Eastern Railway occurred here. As a result of rock slides, construction delays were experienced. Cuttings had to be widened and the Swan View Tunnel lined with bricks. The official opening of the line occurred on 22nd February 1896, and the first passenger train ran on 2nd March 1896. The original stations on this route were at Swan View and Parkerville.
Within 4 months of the line's opening, there was a serious accident when in June 1896, a man and 8 horses were killed when part of a train became uncoupled at Lion Mill and crashed in the Greenmount National Park just above the Swan View Tunnel. The lack of ventilation in the tunnel caused serious problems with train crews experiencing blackouts on the up hill journey.
The most serious accident occurred in November 1942 when driver Thomas Beer was killed in a derailment caused by a number of factors including the presence of chaff on the line, the train's heavy load and the lack of ventilation in the tunnel. The problem was addressed with the opening on 25th November 1945 of an open cutting for uphill traffic. The Eastern Railway 'Mahogany Creek Deviation' remained the rail link to the eastern states until the dual gauge route via the Avon Valley was opened on 15th February 1966. Before that time, the line through Glen Forrest closed gradually over the period from 1952 to the early 1960's. Since the closure of the railway, the reserves have been set aside as heritage walk trails with interpretive material located near the former stations.


Integrity: Overall the reserves integrity is low in terms of functional use but high for recreation and heritage.
Modifications: Most original structures have been demolished


variable, from non existent and in ruins to good/fair for the Wooroloo stone culvert


Name Type Year From Year To
CY O'Connor Architect - -


Ref ID No Ref Name Ref Source Ref Date
I Elliot; ibid pp. 55, 57, 77-79, 81, 102, 111-113, 136, 163, 177, 233-238.
L Watson; "Railway History of Midland Junction". pp.109, 120-131

State Heritage Office library entries

Library Id Title Medium Year Of Publication
6605 Register of historic sites. Report 1988

Place Type

Historic site


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

Construction Materials

Type General Specific
Other CONCRETE Other Concrete
Other METAL Steel

Historic Themes

General Specific
TRANSPORT & COMMUNICATIONS Rail & light rail transport

Creation Date

30 May 1989

Publish place record online (inHerit):


Last Update

10 Feb 2017


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