Kojonup Tourist Railway
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History of KTR Inc
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The idea for a tourist railway in Kojonup was seeded at the Wildflower weekend in 1991 where a working model of the Kojonup Railway precinct between Albany Highway and Pensioner Rd was on display. Nostalgic thoughts kicked in and inspired the imagination of Don Hair and this led to discussions with others about the restoration of the line and his vision of a Tourist Railway. Enquiries were made to two members of an already established railway body being Bennett Brook. Shortly after it was then decided to have a meeting at the old Railway Station to discuss the viability of a tourist Railway. This meeting was attended by the Bennett Brook Railway representatives, local farmers, businessmen, transport operators, service club members, Mike Rogers Lawyer, an Accountant, Tourist Association members and other interested parties. Taken into consideration was that some infrastructure was already in place, including the disused line, railway station and the goods shed. Also considered was the significance of the Farrar Reserve and Farrar Dam (which was built for watering steamers), and our geographical position and the significance of the purpose of the line. In the history of small country towns like ours rail was a life line, used for passenger services, getting produce to and from market and the transport of commodities such as food, mail etc. It was felt that the history needed to be preserved. It was generally perceived that with great effort and commitment we could make a Tourist Railway work. Upon that conclusion it was decided to form Kojonup Tourist Railway.

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A steering committee was elected and Mr Mike Rogers donated his time and money to carry out all legal work to have KTR incorporated. Our campaign then commenced. Seemingly endless communication with at least 30 people within government departments and Westrail over the next two years informing them of our intentions to seek acquisition of the section of disused railway was without promising response. We received a big bureaucratic stand off. We were advised to raise our profile and contact DOLA and the Minister of Transport, Mrs Pam Beggs, to have the land vested with KTR. Numerous letters passed between Mrs Beggs office and other Government Departments and this lead too much frustration as nothing could be finalised. Around this time there was a change in Government from Labour to Liberal and we basically had to start all over again. Mr Eric Charlton became Minister of Transport and Mr Greg Trenbrith his minder. Several meetings took place with Mr Trenbrith in Perth and Kojonup and he suggested a feasibility study be carried out. He also let it be known that he strongly opposed to the project. Eventually, after more correspondence Mr Charlton agreed to reconsider our proposal if the feasibility study was done. This was carried out by Tourism Co-ordinate’s officers Mr Eddy Wattling and Terry Phenn and funded by the Shire at a cost of $10,000.

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After viewing the study, it was still a negative response from Mr Charlton. Barry Thompson, the current Shire CEO at the time and KTR Members would not accept the Government’s answer. It was then brought to our attention that all disused rail was being pulled up by Emerald Glen to be sold to interstate parties. During the course of events due and with further correspondence, KTR were advised to offer a tender to remove the line between Katanning and Kojonup and it is was agreed that our tender would come under the lowest tendered price. Line would then become our property and the government would have it done at the cheapest possible cost. Although this was suggested to us, and carried out as requested, it was knocked back and this further infuriated supporters of our campaign. Not to be defeated, a final “last ditch bid” by way of a deputation to Parliament House for a meeting with Mr Eric Charlton, was arranged, only two days prior to removal of the Kojonup section of line. This meeting was attended by the then Kojonup Shire President, Mr Rob Sexton, Shire CEO Mr Barry Thompson, Mr Eddy Wattling from Tourism Co-ordinate’s, KTR member Don Hair and Mr Bob Wiese local member for our Region. It was requested that Emerald Glen be stopped from demolishing and removing the line between Farrar and Kojonup so we could commence our venture. After only approximately half and hour into the meeting, Mr Eric Charlton took advice from Mr Bernie Martinovich, a high ranking WAGR Official, it was recommended that a vesting order of the Railway corridor be best achieved by an Executive Order of Council, this was granted and the section of line 2000 m west of the crossing on the Boyup Brook Road at Farrar and to Albany Highway in Kojonup was ti be left in place and vested in the Shire of Kojonup. After years of frustration of seemingly getting nowhere, we were finally successful. The deputation were elated and immediately returned to Kojonup to place signs on the rail to stop the demolition.

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At this time all second hand 45lb re-usable rail, to our knowledge, was almost extinct. Not just our branch line but every other discontinued branch line was to be demolished and re-usable line was sold in Queensland and the rest to be sold to Midalia Steel. The Foreman of Emerald Glen was approached to see if he could consider selling KTR approximately 1000 lengths of good condition 24’ 45lb railway line and fish plates. This was agreed to, at a cost of $39 per length. Fish plates could be salvaged if KTR members were willing to collect them from along the demolished lines. Funds had to be found immediately to purchase railway line. The President of KTR spent one afternoon on the phone to seek donations and loans. $40,000 was raised to purchase this line. This was a huge achievement and the basis of what was to come. Emerald Glen then delivered the line to the Shire Depot. Several years later after much pushing and prompting from Barry Thompson and his successor Mr Wally Lenysyzn the vesting order finally arrived. It was decided that with the magnitude of the political requirements, it was too large for KTR alone and council agreed to have the corridor vested in the Shire. Mr Lenysyzn, while waiting for the vesting order to come through was working on behalf of the KTR in his own time to put together our accreditation documents. Now that the vestment was with the shire all documents had to be transferred and at this time the KTR executive became committee members of the Shire – approximately 6 – 7 years ago. During all of this KTR ran the train on the Wildflower Weekends. From 1992 to 1999 permission and Indemnity was granted by the District Engineer in Bunbury and run in conjunction with the Kojonup Apex Club who used their Insurance Cover for a short train ride to operate between Pensioner Rd and Albany Highway. After our first year of running the train, we were seen to be in operation and this attracted new and very enthusiastic members. Kojonup Tourist Railway was now full “steam” ahead. In pre-accreditation days permission had to be gained from the district engineers office in Bunbury to extend the service to Treasure Rd.

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In 2000 and 2001 the shire was granted temporary accreditation effective for the three days of the wildflower weekend. Yearly inspections of the track, rolling stock, safety training and communications, along with an acceptable Safety Management plan so as to meet Office of Rail Safety requirements. All were required for approval certificates for subsequent Wildflower Weekend up until full accreditation. A further requirement was the viewing of certificate of currency from the Shire for Insurance purposes.

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In 2002 after the required inspection, work orders could not be completed and the train was not permitted to run on the line. The Zoo train was already in our possession and as the official opening of Kodja Place coincided with Wildflower weekend we arranged permission from Main Roads Department and local Police to run the Zoo Train on the roads. This has been the only time the Zoo train has been used.

2003 and 2004 the train ran as it did in 2000 and 2001.

2005 – With all accreditation documents completed, inspections carried out and approved. We have decided not to run the train until the old zoo train refurbishment is completed as this is a much better light rail vehicle to run.

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Full accreditation on the first four kms has been reached, however all physical requirements for the rest of the line have yet to be met and paid for. Whilst all this was happening KTR committee members forged ahead, all the initial funds came from members’ personal funds or were donations. Letters of request were sent to local farmers and saw millers and we received many donations of logs and the use of mills and from this we were to get 3000 sawn sleepers. With the support of the local engineering, mechanical and the bus service, along with volunteer labour and with the donation of a mini moke, once own by local identity Mr Pat Jones, KTR commenced.

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The moke was stripped, overhauled, repainted and converted to a Hi-Railer and two passenger carriages were manufactured. A flat-topped work vehicle was built for the construction and maintenance on the line. Rolling stock was purchased. One major setback was with the purchase of two ADGV motorised cars for some time were housed at Forrestfield marshalling yards. Within days of these to be transported to Kojonup, KTR received a call to say the trains were in the back woods of Naval Base and had been burnt. Don Hair, Ned Radford and Bob Foster went to the site armed with oxy cutting gear cut the burnt out shells into pieces, which were sold and the full purchase price was recovered. We never found out why they were moved, by whom, how or why they were burnt. It all seemed very suspicious at the time. Another major set back was to follow, CBH decided to upgrade their facilities and this included removal of existing line between Pensioner Rd and Soldier Rd. This was a huge threat to the project as a 500 metre section of the line would be gone. To cut a long story short, local property owner Mr Bobbie McGee donated portion of his land by way of an easement, next to the CBH, with Michael Rogers again doing all legal work at his personal expense, the land became available to fill in the gap. Roger Machin surveyed the area, his time also donated. Advice fromilway bodies and local expertise armed this novice band of railway builders with enough knowledge to relocate this s raection from the ground up. A mammoth long weekend project with hundreds of volunteers, some 40 trucks, tippers and earthmoving equipment etc. with all time and equipment donated. Tons of gravel fill was carted and the new formation was completed and the whole project went like clockwork.

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A Daihatsu was donated and converted to hi-railer initially for a service vehicle. As the wildflower weekend rail rides became more popular, this vehicle was used to assist the moke in pulling passenger carriages and the flat top was converted to carry passengers. The Shire constructed new Bridges and culverts north of the sale yards. The line was cleared to Treasure Rd. Followed by the clearing of the line, repairs to culverts and four level crossings repaired or reinstated all the way to Farrar siding for the purpose of maintenance were completed. KTR is required on an ongoing basis to clear vegetation control it and remove it from the line regularly. This is all done by voluntary labour. Service roads for on road vehicles were in a very poor condition. A lot of effort has gone into creating culverts over water crossings, and washouts have been repaired which are all continually maintained.

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The ex South Perth Zoo rubber tyre train came up for auction and was purchased by KTR funds and with substantial members donations. The new shed built north of the swimming pool was built from grant money. An area below the sale yards has been cleared and formed into foundations for a storage shed and workshop. This was done by volunteer labour and machinery. Materials from the old Co-op Shed have been donated and the shed will be built when materials become available. The small KTR committee are dedicated and committed and have faced many set backs. However they have also gained a vast amount of encouragement and support locally. Members of state tourist rail body, ATHRA gives KTR support on state and national level, as do members from other tourist rail organisations. Along the years, many and numerous volunteers have been able to achieve a great deal .

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Kojonup Railway Station 1975
Kojonup Railway Station 1975
Photo Courtesy of Lindsay Watson

Kojonup Railway Station 1975 #2

Kojonup Railway Station 1975
Photo Courtesy of Lindsay Watson

Kojonup Railway Station 1982

Kojonup Railway Station 1982
Photo Courtesy of Lindsay Watson

ARPG Members Kojonup 2005

Kojonup Railway Station
ARPG Meeting - November 2005
Photo:  Gwen Kinniburgh

Old Zoo Train being Converted to Rail
Photo John Lewis 2003

Zoo Train Carriages 2003

Zoo Train Carriages 2003
Photo: John Lewis

Track 2006

Part of Track - 2006
Photo: Gwen Kinniburgh


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