The Margaret River Railway was officially opened to the public by the Minister for Works, Alex McCallum, on the 7th of November, 1924. The railway line extended from Busselton to Flinders Bay.
“Margaret River Railway. Official opening. Mr McCallum optimistic. Busselton, November 7. More than forty miles of permanent railway were officially added to the State railway system to-day, when the Busselton-Margaret River section was declared open for traffic by the Minister for Works (Mr A McCallum)…The Minister for Works expressed confidence that now a substantial start had been made with the development of the South-West, much progress and wealth would result…” West Australian, 10 November 1924.
M.C. Davies Private Railway
In 1885, prior to the opening, M.C. Davies and his private company had built their own railway network from Flinders Bay to Margaret River . The network was built to service the growing timber industry. However in 1912, the Western Australian Government Railways (W.A.G.R) took over the line and proceeded to recondition and connect it with the Busselton line.
The Pubic Works Department had the task of reconditioning the 22 miles of old line. They also had to build a 3 and a half mile deviation due to the steepness of the terrain. An interesting point to note was that from 1900-1914, approximately 17 million railway sleepers were cut from the forests in the Margaret River and Augusta region.
Prior to the new railway being connected to the Busselton line, all timbers were transported by ship.
Margaret River Railway
The 1920s was a boom time for Western Australia with an increase in population (due to immigration programmes),a well expanding wheat industry and the establishment of a new dairy industry in the south-west. It was during this prosperous time that the State Government completed the Busselton- Margaret River Railway line. In 1925 the Margaret River – Flinders Bay section was also completed. The railway was built to open up the area and make agriculture and timber transport easier.
In the 1950’s, the State Government decided to closed down a third of all their rail networks because they could no longer support the services. Most of the large haulage was being replaced by road transport . This unfortunately included the Busselton to Flinders Bay line. With much protest from the locals the line was officially closed on the 1st July, 1957.
In 2003 the cost of reinstating the rail line as far as Margaret River was estimated at $140 million.
Today, several of the old railway lines have become part of the Busselton to Flinders Bay Rails to Trail project.