Western Australia’s only remaining railway roundhouse and turntable, which was integral to the state’s coal industry, is being offered for lease following an almost $1 million renovation.
Located 190 kilometres south of Perth and built in the 1950s, the heritage-listed, single-storey off-form concrete Collie Roundhouse maintained 14 steam locomotives before it was decommissioned in the 1970s.
The National Trust of WA is now seeking expressions of interest to lease the landmark building, which has a distinct quarter-circle plan, and an off‑form concrete construction with precast concrete beams.
In June 2019, the state government gave the site a new lease of life by allocating $998,532 towards restoring the roundhouse so it was suitable for public use.
The total site area spans 6.515 hectares.
The roundhouse remains intact and its 30-metre turntable is the only extant roundhouse in its original setting within WA, and one of a few in the country.
National Trust of WA chief executive Julian Donaldson said he was hopeful an investor or developer would realise the huge tourism opportunity the roundhouse could present, perhaps in the form of accommodation, food and beverage or a combination of the both.
“We have even had interest in the past for a microbrewery to be on the site, or a distillery,” he said.
“The site is big enough to mix a range of businesses which are related to tourism. Collie is an economy that is in transition, and as such the appetite for the development of Collie as a tourism attraction is very high.
“Collie is a beautiful, beautiful part of the world … it’s got a lot of forest and parkland nearby and it’s not far from Bunbury, [and] the Ferguson Valley. I think what we have seen is people are now taking as much interest in inland tourism as they are with coastal tourism, and I think this is where Collie’s strength is going to be.”
Mr Donaldson said the transformation of the roundhouse into a tourism offering would not only create job opportunities, but would showcase what Collie had to offer and encourage further investment in the locale.
The roundhouse was classified by the National Trust in 1988, and has been part of the State Register of Heritage Places since 1992.
Its statement of significance place states the roundhouse “reflects Collie’s coal mining history and the importance of the railways and the coal industry to Collie today”.
It says Collie coal was discovered in 1883 but was not immediately developed because of the dominance of the eastern states’ coalfields, and a lack of a railway to haul the coal from Collie to Bunbury.
In 1893, the South West railway line was completed and five years later the line from Brunswick to Collie was finished.
Access to rail transport launched Collie and the coal industry on a sound basis and boosted settlement in the district, the statement said.
“The important role that the engineer-in-chief and acting general manager of railways in Western Australia, Charles Yelverton [CY] O’Connor, played in establishing the Collie coalfields is often overlooked.
“He pushed hard for the building of the line from Brunswick to Collie and argued convincingly for the use of local coal so that WA would be independent of the unreliable eastern state.”
The site, at Coalfields Road in Collie, is open for inspection on October 21, with the expressions of interest campaign closing November 16.