In 1900 Charles O'Coonnor began investigating the joining of the rail network in W.A. to the one in
South Australia. The estimated cost was 4.6 million pounds and nothing further was done until 1911.
The federal government allocated 4 million pounds to get the project started but the 1800 kilometre gap between Kalgoorlie and Port Augusta was still very daunting.
Work from the eastern side commenced in September 1912 and six months later work began in Kalgoorlie.
3,500 men worked on the construction with most being paid just 8 shillings a day. Track laying machines helped to some extent but much of the work was done by hand and camels were initially
used to get supplies out to the rail camps.
Despite WWI occurring during the project, there were remarkably few delays. The rail lines were joined on October 17th 1917. It had taken just 61 months with one section of 780 kilometres being
laid in just 3 months.
Among the passengers on the first train was Sir John Forrest. He had travelled across the country on foot
and horseback in 1870 and his dream of connecting west to east had finally been realised. His first trip had taken 5 months, the rail journey was just 3 days!
The only unfortunate aspect of the project was the different gauges of rail in W.A. and South Australia and the trans-continental line being a different width to both. This led to delays as trains had
to swap passengers and re-load freight.
This is a very broad subject and covers all areas of the state. As there is no point in 're-inventing the wheel' we recommend that you visit Don Copley's excellent website all about the rail network in W.A.
History of W.A. Railways and Stations (site currently offline) also see the Railway Museum.