september / 07


First train from Kalgoorlie

7th September, 1910 : The Federal Government has committed itself to building a desert railway, at a probable cost of £4,000,000. The line would stretch from Kalgoorlie in Western Australia to Port Augusta in South Australia. Prime Minister, Andrew Fisher, announced the decision when he handed down the Commonwealth Budget today. The Government has set aside £5,000 to draw up plans for the desert railway, and Mr Fisher said that “nothing more or less than£4,000,000” would be spent on its construction: “Has not the time come for the east to be linked with the west by a steel rail?”

[ On 17 October, 1917, in a remarkable surveying and engineering feat, two construction teams, one starting from Port Augusta and the other from Kalgoorlie, made a historic achievement, meeting to join the lines at what is now the tiny South Australian siding of Ooldea on the Nullarbor Plain. This was the longest railway ever built as a single project in Australia, taking five years to complete. It was constructed using the most basic tools – pick and shovel, carthorse and camel.]

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