The Ballaarat Engine is fondly remembered by many locals as a place to clamber and play in Victoria Square at the entry to Busselton. A few remember getting their fingers slammed in the swinging doors or stuck in parts where they probably shouldn’t have been.
Assembled in 1871 in Ballarat, Victoria, the engine was transported by ship to Wonnerup where it operated for the Western Australian Timber Company making it the first locomotive in Western Australia. It worked some 30km into the forest from the Lockville Jetty through to Maryvale. It had several modifications made due to sparks and embers that flew from the funnel was responsible for some forest fires as well as setting alight the timber logs it was hauling!
However by 1877, the jetty was in poor condition and in 1887 the mill had closed due to financial difficulties. This is when the Ballaarat’s history starts to get more interesting.