Railway dams and reservoirs of Western Australia


Railway dams and reservoirs were used to supply water to an extensive railway system that ventured into low rainfall, and poor water quality areas of the inner regions of Western Australia in the 1890s.

Some of the dams were made redundant with the completion of the Goldfields Water Supply Scheme which provided a more certain supply along the Eastern and Goldfields lines.


Seasonal variations and drought conditions[1][2] in various areas made rainfall and re-filling of dams a reportable event in the West Australian media.[3]

Water qualityEdit

Water quality was a perennial problem, and some dams and supplies had levels of unwanted salinity and other ingredients that seriously affected the life time of the Western Australian Government Railways (WAGR) steam locomotive boilers.

Eastern RailwayEdit

In the 1890s the Eastern Railway was designated as being from Fremantle to Kalgoorlie.

Railway dams were located at:

Eastern Goldfields RailwayEdit

The Eastern Goldfields railway started east of Northam, following development of other branch lines from Northam.

Great Southern RailwayEdit

The Great Southern Railway was originally a private land grant railway, and was later taken over by the government.

  • 1890s (Beverley – Albany)
  • Later starting points of the Great Southern were at York, Spencers Brook, Avon Yard.
  • 195 – Mile (Yornan)
  • Wagin Lake (Wagin)
  • Tambellup
  • Cranbrook
  • Albany

Northern RailwaysEdit

WAGR annual reportsEdit

The information about the dams – Return of Reservoirs – can be found in the WAGR annual reports,[5] but there is no consistency as to which appendices they are listed in during the period 1899–1905.

  • 1899 Appendix G p. 47
  • 1900 Appendix D p. 57
  • 1901 Appendix D p. 61
  • 1903 Appendix F p. 54

The appendices are fully expanded tables that include the capacity of the dams, as well as their location in miles from the Perth railway station.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "WESTERN AUSTRALIA". The Sydney Morning Herald. 18 December 1901. p. 10. Retrieved 28 March 2013 – via National Library of Australia.
  2. ^ "Water Shortage in Western Australia". The Recorder. Port Pirie, SA. 30 January 1936. p. 2. Retrieved 28 March 2013 – via National Library of Australia.
  3. ^ "Western Australia". Western Mail. Perth. 12 December 1940. p. 38. Retrieved 28 March 2013 – via National Library of Australia.
  4. ^ "Shire of Yilgarn – Karalee Dam". yilgarn.wa.gov.au. Archived from the original on 29 August 2007.
  5. ^ Western Australian Government Railways Commission (1900), Report on the working of the government railways for the year ended 30th June, Govt. Printer, retrieved 27 March 2013