Woodlines of the Eastern Goldfields

From the time of the first goldrush wood was in great demand on the goldfields.  It was used as fuel for the steam driven winders that hauled ore to the surface, the generators that provided electricity, the pumps that brought essential water from Mundaring and, of course, to support the hundreds of kilometres of shafts and stopes under the ground.

Before long the area within a 15 kilometre radius of the mines was cut out.  From 1903 railways were utilised to bring in the wood.  These were known as ‘woodlines’.  The main camp for the woodlines was at Cave Hill, just east of Widgiemooltha.  It was in operation until 1938.  The area around Victoria Rock was cut out around 1921.

At their peak, the timber companies employed 1500 men and supplied over 500,000 tonnes of firewood and mining timber each year.

In the early 1950s the switch to coal powered boilers and diesel powered generators greatly reduced the demand for wood.  New underground techniques of leaving rock columns to support the stopes also drastically reduced the demand for structural timber.  Woodlines continued to the south and east of Kalgoorlie until 1965 when they ceased operation.

 

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