Book Updates‎ > ‎

Woodlines

When reading the history of WA’s goldmines, we hear of the richness of the mines, how deep it was mined, how many people lived and worked there and of the lucrative profits made; none of this would have been possible without firewood.

The mines needed a source of cheap energy to fuel steam boilers and gas producers for engines, lighting, pumping, ore treatment; there was also a need for timber for construction and mine supports. Firewood from the local forests was readily and cheaply available, once the trees near mines were cut out; it soon became too difficult for cartage by horse and camel to meet supply.  Trains using an extensive system of rail line, known as woodlines, were  introduced to deliver firewood to mines.. 

 These woodlines played a crucial role in the establishment of mines and of the goldfields. During the period 1904–11 a staggering average of 500,000 tons of firewood per annum was produced in WA; most of which was used in the eastern goldfields.

 Woodlines weren’t all about the companies, trains and tons of firewood. Out the end of the woodline wood cutters, navvies, train drivers and loaders and in many cases their family lived and worked, these people were often forgotten by the firewood company and by the government and its services.

Wood cutters, carters and loaders were mostly migrants who were seeking to escape harsh living conditions in Europe. They came to Australia wanting to establish a new life; they carried out their religious and ethnic traditions and brought spaghetti and wine to bush.

Comments