Yarloop Workshops Historic Site 1895

Prior to the 2016 fires, the Yarloop Railway Workshops Complex was included on the State Register, in recognition of its importance as the largest privately owned railway workshop remaining in Australia.

The Yarloop Timber Mill Workshops Redevelopment and Interpretative Project proposes a range of developments over a three-staged process with a focus on community development, tourism and respect for the past and future of the site. The redevelopment will tell multiple stories about its industrial history, timber milling history, the people, and the fire.

The first stage of the project will focus on the rebuilding of the steam workshops, a men’s shed, landscaping, restoration of the existing vault, as well as headworks and services supply to the site. Construction is anticipated to be completed in 2024.


The Millar brothers; Charles and Edwin had established a successful timber business in the 1880s and were looking for new locations to source and mill timber in the South West of WA.

A 300-acre site, including the site of the present Yarloop Mill, was chosen. Its distance 2km south of the Waigerup (Wagerup) siding near the government railway line was attractive to the Millars, as its distance from other settlements meant the company could retain control over staff and employees.

Millars constructed a loop line from the Government railway line via what became known as the Top Yard. This line was known as the Yard Loop and in about 1897 was abbreviated to Yarloop, which became the name of the mill town and railway station.

The mill commenced operations in 1895 and the first General Manager was Henry Teesdale Smith.  Millars provided all the necessary support facilities, such as accommodation and health care for their workers.

By 1901, all the timber in the vicinity of Yarloop was depleted and the mill shut down.

The Yarloop Workshops developed on the site of the old mill as a repair and maintenance centre for Millars South West saw-milling operations. The workshops maintained the steam locomotives of the extensive Millars railway system developed to cart the felled timber and to service the other 26 South West mills. In addition, the workshops manufactured some rolling stock and mill equipment and serviced stationary steam engines.

At one time, the Workshops consisted of 20 buildings and employed more than 100 people and over 500 people in the immediate Yarloop vicinity. The height of activity was in the 1930s, with the company owning the largest private railway system in the world.

From there, the workforce declined as trucks and tractors replaced steam trains and whims.

They constructed the last new buildings on the site in the 1950s.

The workshops were still operating in 1978 when they were severely damaged by Cyclone Alby. This event led to the closure of the workshops as a viable business, but the place was recognised for its heritage value and teams of volunteers undertook restoration of the buildings and machinery.

The National Trust of Australia (WA) classified the workshops in 1984 and included them on the State Register of Heritage Places on a permanent basis in 2000.

The majority of the complex burnt down in the 2016 Bushfires.

Yarloop Workshops Historic Site

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