Now fully restored the historic Ballaarat Engine has been relocated to the new interpretive centre in
Railway House. The oldest surviving Australian-built locomotive, Ballaarat Engine has seen many homes.
It lay abandoned on Wonnerup Beach for many years before being located to the Midland Railway
Yards. Delivered back to Busselton in 1937 at the behest of many local admirers and supporters, the
engine was situated in Victoria Square where it remained until a few years ago.
Since 2012 City Officers including Cultural Development Officer Jacquie Happ, have been working with
local enthusiasts and businesses to restore the engine. “Without the contribution of local people this
project may not have been realised,” Ms Happ said. “Over 500 volunteer hours have been recorded
cutting out rust, soaking parts in molasses, slowly and steadily easing nuts off bolts, sanding and
painting. The restoration process has been documented along the way and will serve as a valuable
historical and procedural resource.”
Restoration works commenced after a workshop was held with railway historian Philippa Rogers and
local volunteers. The engine work was completed under the supervision of Phil Ashton (South West
Machining Centre) and his team. Sandblasting works were undertaken by Ace Sandblasting and
Southern Restoration. South West Crane Services came on board to move the engine several times,
including the recent delivery of the Ballaarat to its new home at Railway House.
While the restoration works were completed by volunteers, materials and other services were funded
by Lotterywest, and a grant through the Federal Government Stronger Communities Programme from
the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development. The City of Busselton also contributed
Mayor Grant Henley said that given the detailed nature of the work, restoration has taken many years to
complete. “It’s been worth the wait and thanks to the commitment and talent of the volunteers and the
support of local business; the Ballaarat Engine looks beautiful. This incredibly important community
asset will take pride of place at Railway House as the centrepiece of an interpretive display showcasing
the region’s rich timber heritage.”
Railway House is due for completion shortly and will be opening to the public early in the New Year. The
MRBTA Visitor Centre and BEJCA will take up tenancy in the new building.
More information on the history of the Ballaarat Engine can be found on the City’s at
Photo for general use, caption L – R: Rod Piper (RCM Rigging Pty Ltd), Phil Ashton (South West
Machinery Centre), Kurt Sowden (RCM Rigging Pty Ltd) and Walter Orchard (South West Crane
Objectives outlined in this statement are aligned with Key Goal Area 5: An attractive City offering great
places and facilities promoting an enjoyable and enriched lifestyle.
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