Gold Rush Railway

The story of Northam versus York in the race to be the pathway to Yilgarn and beyond began after a speech by Governor Sir William Robinson January 22nd 1890. It has been an interest of mine as Northam is where the family called home.
There wasn’t much in it with the line through Northam estimated to cost £216445 and from York £216992, both including rolling stock.


York Station built in 1885 care of Battye Library 5204B/22

Possibly the favourable factor in CY O’Connor’s recommendation in his selection of Northam was the distance to Southern Cross from Fremantle was 15 miles longer via a route through York. A spur line from Spencers Brook to Northam was already in place and was running at a loss to the government so there would be a saving there.


An A Class at Spencers Brook travelling to York c1890 care of Battye Library 28662P.

Various deputations and representations were made to Premier, Sir John Forrest from Newcastle, Northam, York and Beverley but it was The Premier’s view that the shortest course would be taken.


Public Records Office showing routes proposed ACC1590 Item 14410/03


Gold had been found in the Kimberley’s but in small quantities so a discovery in Goomalling was of great interest to those the had the fever. North of Southern Cross, in the Yilgarn Shire and Central Yilgarn (Craton), there was exploration for gold during the late 1880s and 1890s thought to be first discovered in 1887.

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Northam Station seen here in 1929 thanks to Edward James Rigg Collection.

In less than two short years, tenders were called for the construction of the railway September 1st, 1892. The Northam to Southern Cross railway opened at 175 miles in length on the 1st of July, 1894. By now, Paddy Hannan had already found gold at Kalgoorlie June 17th, 1893 requiring a further extension of the Eastern line.

Northam 108

Northam station in all her glory, a busy stop sadly bypassed for a faster route in 1966. Very fond memories of playing here in the 1970s.

The Southern Cross to Kalgoorlie line of 138 miles was completed 1st of January, 1897 as Kalgoorlie population approached 2000.


Inspiration thanks to Allan Tilley who researched and produced To Greenhills And Beyond, 1998.


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