Train enthusiasts stepped back in time to mark 150 years since WA’s first railway was established in the South West. Guests marked the milestone year in the State’s rail history with the launch of an exhibition at the Busselton Railway House featuring the region’s first steam engine, as well as a plaque unveiled at Wonnerup House. The restored Ballaarat steam engine pays homage to the 150-year history of the industry and its role in WA’s economic growth. The Ballaarat was the State’s first steam engine which hauled logs between Busselton’s port and mill on the 18km stretch of rail between Lockeville and Yoganup. It was built in Ballarat, Victoria. The original spelling of the town’s name was ‘Ballaarat’, originating from two Aboriginal words: ‘Balla Arat’ which means resting place. Heritage and Culture Minister David Templeman joined a walk down the train tracks through Tuart Forest on Saturday and thanked the volunteer-run groups for playing an instrumental role in the preservation and restoration of the railway’s history. “It’s not an exaggeration to say that volunteers are the bedrock of the heritage industry and it is their unwavering passion and commitment that underlies many heritage projects and initiatives in WA,” he said. “The act of preserving these histories ensures they can be shared, visited and reinterpreted by every new generation: a priceless gift to our future selves. “Railway heritage combines tourism and cultural heritage and the story of the original timber railway and the original locomotive, the Ballaarat, provides an added dimension to the Wonnerup House and a new story for visitors to discover.” The exhibition at Busselton’s Railway House depicts the history of the railway through photos donated from members of the public including the City of Busselton Mayor Grant Henley. During the restoration process Mayor Henley also thanked the volunteers for their work in preserving the engine and sad the Ballaarat would be a drawcard for future visitors. “The volunteers put in hundreds of hours of labour and we’ve got a lovely piece now to reflect on,” he said. “It is the oldest Australian-built locomotive still in existence and I think it will be a big attraction.” The Ballaarat and original rail network was a key player in WA’s growth and success across regional WA and will now live on as a unique tourist attraction for the region’s visitors. It The engine was built in Ballarat, Victoria. The original spelling of the town’s name was "Ballaarat", originating from two Aboriginal words: “Balla Arat” which means resting place. The spelling of the town's name was eventually changed to Ballarat but the engine retained its original spelling.