by Jill Cross
In 1885, the Government in Western Australia felt that a railway from Bunbury to the surrounding district with its rich agricultural, pastoral and forest areas would be of great benefit. Dardanup resident, and member of the Legislative Council, Henry Whittall Venn, managed to have the planned route changed so it would pass through Dardanup. The Bunbury to Boyanup railway was opened in 1887, but the Government, thinking the line wouldn’t pay, placed two locomotives ordered for it into storage and the line was used for horse-drawn transport only.
Years of complaints from businesses and the general public saw the line finally opened to steam power in 1891 while Venn was Commissioner of Railways. The official opening was held on 12 May 1891, before the Perth to Bunbury line had been constructed. There were massive celebrations and the two H-class locomotives imported in December 1887 were put to use on the Boyanup railway. One of the locomotives, H18, still exists and is owned by Rail Heritage WA.
The Bunbury-Boyanup railway was the first railway in Western Australia specifically built to serve an agricultural district. It was only the third section of government railway in the state.
Timber yards, a goods shed and a siding were built at Dardanup alongside Charlotte Street, within the rail reserve. By the early 1900s, timber was being railed to Dardanup up to three times a day, from the newly established Wellington Mills for transport to Bunbury where it was either stored or exported.
The trains not only meant transportation for workers, agricultural products and timber but were a means for locals to easily attend dances, shopping trips to Bunbury, race meetings and other events. It was Dardanup’s lifeline to the outside world.
The station platform was built exceptionally long to accommodate Henry Venn. Wherever the train carriage stopped he could easily alight or board.
The Railway Station and Goods Shed, both now demolished, were located opposite the Dardanup Hotel.
The Station Master’s house still standing on Charlotte Street was built in 1900. Mr Hewison, a station master for many years, was a very skilful woodworker and made the pews in the church, and also worked on the Hall.
- Dardanup, Bunbury Herald (WA : 1892 – 1919), Wednesday 21 June 1893, page 3
- Enthusiastic Meeting at Bunbury, Protests against the removal of the locomotive and working of the line by horses, Southern Times (Bunbury, WA : 1888 – 1916), Tuesday 2 April 1889, page 5
- Railway to Boyanup, Railway Heritage WA, http://www.railheritagewa.org.au/museum/pages/swrhc/index.php, accessed 7 March 2022.
- Railway that did not happen, from South Western Times Centenary Souvenir Lift-Out, 9 June 1988, Excerpts from Railway Fiasco story by Paul Wood.
- The Bunbury-Boyanup Railway, Daily News (Perth, WA : 1882 – 1955), Friday 14 September 1888, page 3
- FS class 452 steam train at Dardanup Station carrying ballast, Railway Heritage WA – Reference: P05481
- Other photos from Gwen Wells