The first train to Nornalup

In June 1929, an event of great significance for the settlers of Nornalup and Walpole and the group settlement areas took place when the first train steamed into the little town of Nornalup.

Imagine the initial excitement of the settlers as they watched this link with the outside world steam through for the first time.

The 34-mile (55 km) line from Denmark had been built at a cost of more than 350,000 pounds and opened up valuable timber, dairy and potato country.

Its completion in 1929 culminated in the arrival of that first train but the line was not officially opened until the following December.

The official opening in December 1930 was performed by the then Minister for Lands the Hon. M.F. Troy MLA and the town assumed a gala atmosphere.

The official opening of the Denmark to Nornalup train line at the Nornalup end, December 1930

The official opening of the Denmark to Nornalup train line, December 1930

The Bellanger family (pioneer settlers and owners of Nornalup’s famed guesthouse in the tall timbers) catered for the ceremony.

Madame Bellanger together with Mrs Thompson (another early pioneer who settled with her husband Frank on the Deep River) held the ribbon for the train to break through as it entered Nornalup.

The official opening of the Denmark-Nornalup train line at the Nornalup end, December 1930

The official opening of the Denmark to Nornalup train line, December 1930

The rail service continued for 30 years until its closure in 1959.  During those years it passed from being a facility of utmost importance to a poorly used service made obsolete by road transport.

During this time, the late Captain Tom Price who married Lulu Bellanger, was appointed caretaker of the barracks where train crew spent the night before the return trip to Denmark the next day.

Captain Price, a lonely figure on a deserted track, watched the last train as it steamed out of Nornalup.

(Helen Pierce of Walpole is the daughter of Captain and Mrs Price.)

This article by Molly Smith first appeared in the September 3, 2014 edition of the Walpole Weekly as one of her “Looking Back with Molly” columns. Pictures courtesy of the Walpole Nornalup & Districts Historical Society archives.

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