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Greenmount steam locomotive, front and side view, running light engine, nameboard, East No

The Early Years

The first railway constructed in Western Australia was the Fremantle to Guildford railway which was opened on 1 March 1881. A year later what was to become the Eastern Railway began with the extension of the railway from Guildford to Chidlow, extended to Spencers Brook and York later opening in June 1885

Following agitation by the Northam settlers, seeking better transport for their produce to the markets in Perth, a branch line from Spencers Brook to Northam was built, and was opened by the W.A. Governor, Sir Frederick Broome, on 13 October 1886.

This line terminated at a simple two room timber station building, situated roughly where the Shire of Northam administration building in Fitzgerald Street stands today.


Following the discovery of gold in the Yilgarn goldfields at Southern Cross in 1887, and later at Coolgardie in 1892 and Kalgoorlie in June 1893, the government decided to extend the Eastern Railway to cater for the large influx of miners coming to W.A.


Three starting places were considered, being York to the south, Northam, and Toodyay to the north. As the older, larger, and more established town, York thought it was a certainty to be the jumping off point for the railway to the goldfields. Toodyay also had claims to be considered, but the cost of building the line starting from there was considerably higher than from either Northam or York.


In the end, Northam was selected as the starting point for what became known as the Eastern Goldfields Railway.

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The railway line ran directly from the very original Northam station parallel to and in between Fitzgerald and Wellington Streets before turning towards the east at Peel Terrace, and then on to the goldfields, via Cunderdin, Kellerberrin, Merredin, and on to Southern Cross.

Photograph Provided by R Beavis

The railway effectively divided the town in half, necessitating a large number of road crossings. A new substantial brick railway station was built at Northam, just west of the original station.


This station originally had an 1150 foot (350 metre) long platform, with a Goods Shed 150ft. (45 metres) long, and 42ft. (12 metres) wide, sheds for 12 locomotives, water tanks and a coal stage holding 1,000 tons (900 tonnes) of coal to service the steam locomotives, and carriage and wagon repair workshops to service the trains to the goldfields.

Railway traffic on the Eastern Goldfields Railway increased when the Trans-Australian Railway line from Kalgoorlie through to Port Augusta in South Australia was completed on 17 October 1917, which finally connected Perth by rail with the rest of Australia.

Trains travelled along this line through the town regularly and at all times of the day and night, despite this, there were few serious accidents along the line through the town.


Probably the main disruption of having a main railway line run straight through the town was to patrons of the now demolished open air movie theatre, the Palace Gardens (located where the Water Corporation office car park is onFitzgerald Street)


The railway tracks ran directly behind the movie screen, and the noise of the passing steam trains would overpower the soundtrack of the movie for a few minutes.


The new Northam railway station had no Railway Refreshment Room on site to cater for the passengers on the trains, because there was a R.R.R. at Spencers Brook and another one at Merredin, and long haul passenger trains like the Albany Progress and the Westland (which travelled between Perth and Kalgoorlie) had buffet or restaurant carriages attached to these trains.

In the 1920s a family by the name of Grubb in West Northam near the main railway station saw a business opportunity. Mrs Grubb would bake pies, and bottle hot tea into used tomato sauce bottles, and her son would meet the local trains that stopped at the Northam station at all times of the day or night and walk along the platform selling pies and tea to the passengers through the windows of the carriages. When the train departed, he would then walk along the railway line to the East Northam station at the far end of town, collecting any empty tomato sauce bottles that the passengers had thrown out of the windows to be reused, and then walk back to the Northam station to await the next train.

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Work started in W.A. in the early 1960s with the major change in the route being that the new railway line would follow the Swan-Avon River valley from Midland to Toodyay and then on to Northam, instead of straight up the Darling escarpment, and then the route largely follows the Eastern Goldfields Railway route and the Trans-Australia route to South Australia.

A new Northam Station was built at the eastern end of the town in Peel Terrace, close to the site of the old East Northam railway station, which was then demolished.


March 1881

The Fremantle to Guildford railway was the first railway constructed in Western Australia

March 1884

What was to become the Eastern Railway was extended from Guilford to Chidlow

June 1885

Railway extended further to Spencers Brook

October 1886

Following agitation by the Northam settlers, seeking better transport for their produce to the markets in Perth, a branch line from Spencers Brook to Northam was built, and was opened by the W.A. Governor, Sir Frederick Broome

June 1885

Extension to York officially opened

August 1886

Line south to Beverley was completed, to connect with the Great Southern Railway, which was a private “land grant” railway, from Beverley to Albany

January 1888

Branch Line from Clackline to Toodyay (then known as Newcastle) is completed

July 1894

Eastern Goldfields Railway from Northam to Southern Cross open

October 1917

Trans-Australian Railway line from Kalgoorlie through to Port Augusta in South Australia was completed connecting Perth by rail with the rest of Australia

February 1966

Northam railway station closes





They say many hands make light work and it certainly did. The whole community came out to leave their mark on the mural and assist in painting the train.

Official Opening

The Official opening took place in at the end of November 2023 and was attending by many of the very generous supporters of the project. Both sponsors and the community attended the official opening hosted by the members of the Northam Town team led by project leader Juana Paynter.

The Town Team Movement representative, Patrycja Rosinska, added her handprint to the mural along with all Northam Town team volunteers, sponsors and attending community members. 


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