The network of railway lines in Western Australia associated with the timber and firewood industries is as old as the mainline railway system of the former Western Australian Government Railways system.
There is a range of terminology related to the timber railways - they have been known as logging railways , timber trams, and other names. The dominant feature is the mobility or easiness of moving the lines from one area of forest to another - and in the early years the relatively primitive state of the lines. The dominant feature is the narrow gauge, and lightness of the locomotives, relative to permanent railways. In Western Australia, to allow for interchangeability of rail stock with the government rail system, a lot of the lines were 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) gauge, however the weight of the rails was usually much lighter than mainline steel.
The timber industry relied mostly upon the jarrah forests of the Darling Range and the karri forests of the Southwest Australia region.
It had stages of development, depending upon government policy and support. The 1980s and the development of government railways assisted the industry, as well various levels of demand for jarrah and the other timbers.Also various labour issues in the industry, and external forces required re-thinking of the industry long before concern for over-logging and forest destruction in the later 21st century.
In many cases- timber/sawmilling/logging companies were family businesses, and as a consequence operations continued over time through family relationships, which in turn had effect on timber railway operations as well.
Kalgoorlie woodlineswere lines that spread throughout the Eastern Goldfields of Western Australia - in all directions from the centre of the Kalgoorlie-Boulder region. Commonly known as the woodlines they sustained a population of railway and timber workers in mainly temporary railway networks that moved regularly from the early twentieth century to the 1960s.
The main companies were:
A significant event in the woodlines history that affected the region was the industrial action that became the Woodline strike between 1 July through to 14 August 1919 over the attempt at post war reduction of wages for workers.The strike brought the goldmines of Kalgoorlie to a standstill as a result.
The comprehensive coverage of the timber and firewood tramways in Western Australia is the publication in two editions:
Eucalyptus marginata, commonly known as jarrah, djarraly in Noongar language and historically as Swan River mahogany, is a plant in the myrtle family, Myrtaceae and is endemic to the south-west of Western Australia. It is a tree with rough, fibrous bark, leaves with a distinct midvein, white flowers and relatively large, more or less spherical fruit. Its hard, dense timber is insect resistant although the tree is susceptible to dieback. The timber has been utilised for cabinet-making, flooring and railway sleepers.
The Eastern Railway is the main railway route between Fremantle and Northam in Western Australia. It opened in stages between 1881 and 1893. The line continues east to Kalgoorlie as the Eastern Goldfields Railway.
The Mundaring Weir Branch Railway was constructed from Mundaring, Western Australia to the site of the Mundaring Weir, and opened on 1 June 1898.
The Flinders Bay Branch Railway, also known as the Boyanup to Flinders Bay Section ran between Boyanup and Flinders Bay, in South Western Western Australia. The section from Flinders Bay to Busselton has now been converted into a rail trail for bushwalkers and cyclists, called the Wadandi Trail.
Jarrahdale is a small historic town located 45 km south-east of Perth, Western Australia in the Darling Range. The name is derived from its situation in a jarrah forest. Established in the late 1800s as the state's first major timber milling operation, it played a key role in the development of Western Australia through the exportation of jarrah around the world. At the 2016 census, Jarrahdale had a population of 1,192. Since 2001, the historic precinct has been managed by the state's National Trust organisation alongside private residential and tourism-oriented developments.
Maurice Coleman Davies was an Australian timber merchant and pastoralist. Born in London, he emigrated to Tasmania with his family as a child, and later moved to Blackwood in the Victorian goldfields, then to Melbourne and Adelaide. He then relocated to Western Australia, where he created the M. C. Davies Company, later the M. C. Davies Karri and Jarrah Timber Company, a timber empire that employed hundreds of men, laid over a hundred kilometres of private railway, including the Flinders Bay Branch Railway, and even built its own private ports for exporting of timber. He also formed the Kimberley Pastoral Company and was its managing director.
Wokalup is a town located in the South West region of Western Australia along the South Western Highway, between Harvey and Brunswick Junction. At the 2006 census, Wokalup had a population of 449.
The South Western Railway, also known as the South West Main Line, is the main railway route between Perth and Bunbury in Western Australia.
Witchcliffe is a small town in the South West region of Western Australia, located a few kilometres south of Margaret River on the Bussell Highway. The name originates from a cave in the area, Witchcliffe cave, that was recorded by a surveyor in 1900. It is believed the name was given by the Bussell family whose property, Wallcliffe, was established in the area in the 1850s.
Lakewood is a ghost town in Western Australia, located between Kalgoorlie and Kambalda in the Goldfields-Esperance region of Western Australia.
Wilga is a small town located between Donnybrook and Boyup Brook in the South West region of Western Australia.
W.A. Timber Company was a syndicate of Victorian investors granted a timber concession of 181,500 acres on Geographe Bay in the south west of Western Australia in 1870.
The Adelaide Timber Company was a family saw mill company that had timber mills and timber railway lines across a number of locations in Australia in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.
Millars' Karri and Jarrah Company (1902) Limited, commonly known as Millars, was a Western Australian focused timber and timber railway company.
The WAGR C class was a class of light axle load steam locomotives operated by the Western Australian Government Railways (WAGR) between 1902 and 1961. A total of 22 were built in two batches.
Henry Teesdale Smith was an Australian businessman and politician who was prominent at various times as a timber merchant, railway builder, and pastoralist. He served in the Legislative Assembly of Western Australia from 1901 to 1904.
Mornington, also known as Mornington Mills, is the site of former timber saw mills and a community on the Darling Range in Western Australia. It was part of the operations of Millars Karri and Jarrah Forests Limited. At the 2016 census, the area had a population of 54.
Neil McNeil was a prominent Australian businessman who was significant in the development of railways across Australia along with Western Australia's timber industry.
The Northcliffe Branch, also known as the Northcliffe Section or Picton to Northcliffe Line, is the railway route between Picton and Northcliffe in Western Australia.