Redevelopment begins at Yarloop Workshops

Construction begins: Shire of Harvey president Paul Gillett, Federal Member for Forrest Nola Marino and former President of Yarloop Workshop Incorporated Geoff Cattach turning the sod. Picture: Pip Waller
Construction begins: Shire of Harvey president Paul Gillett, Federal Member for Forrest Nola Marino and former President of Yarloop Workshop Incorporated Geoff Cattach turning the sod. Picture: Pip Waller

CONSTRUCTION on Australia's largest, privately owned railway workshop will soon begin on what is hoped will be a tourism drawcard for the Harvey region.

As of January 21, Yarloop Workshops, located within the Shire of Harvey, entered stage one of a redevelopment supported by the state government.

Yarloop Workshops played a large role in the timber industry of Western Australia in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Prior to its destruction by the Yarloop-Waroona bushfires in 2016, the site hosted workshops arranged around a ladder of tracks, including historic buildings and significant machinery.

I honestly think that this could provide an opportunity to put Yarloop on the map and show the world what we have here."

Former Yarloop Workshop Inc president Geoff Cattach

The workshops hold personal significance for former Yarloop Workshop president Geoff Cattach, who said his mother, father and father-in-law all worked at the workshops in the 1930s.

"My wife also used to walk through the workshops on her way to primary school," Mr Cattach said.

"In 1930 there were 501 employees - 500 men and one woman, who was my mother.

"I really think it's terrific that this redevelopment is happening and I honestly think that this could be the entry to the South West, providing an opportunity to put Yarloop on the map and show the world what we have here."

Under construction: Although small, the remains of the Yarloop Workshops post the 2016 Yarloop-Waroona fire will soon undergo redevelopment. Picture: Pip Waller

Under construction: Although small, the remains of the Yarloop Workshops post the 2016 Yarloop-Waroona fire will soon undergo redevelopment. Picture: Pip Waller

Stage one of the project will focus on the rebuilding of the steam workshops, a men's shed and landscaping, restoration of the existing vault, as well as headworks and services supply to the site.

Shire of Harvey president Paul Gillett said the Yarloop Workshops were an "integral part of the community" and the local area's heritage.

"Rebuilding the workshops and honouring the heritage of the area is a key component of regenerating the town," Cr Gillett said.

"With a lot of community consultation to develop a masterplan for the site, along with key stakeholder engagement we are excited to be here today to officially start the construction of the first stage of the project.

"The 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."

Construction of the first stage of the Yarloop Workshops is expected to be completed towards the end of 2022.

Stage two will focus on restoration of equipment, landscaping and railway line interpretation.