Finding Family

One woman's obsession with family history.

Okay, so I actually visited the Swan View Railway Tunnel a couple of months ago but seeing as though I have the photos and the information and even an ‘Historical Places’ category, I simply couldn’t resist writing about it!

It’s a place that’s virtually unknown to many people (well…it seems to be unknown to most of my friends anyway) and I suppose it would’ve been completely unknown to me too if it wasn’t for my Grandparents.  Out of all the times I’d visited the tunnel the majority were with my Grandma and Grandpa.  I suppose it became a bit of a tradition for us.

The walk takes place along the old Eastern Railway line and you follow the very gravelly road (there are no actual train tracks anymore) whilst being surrounded by the John Forrest National Park.

John Forrest National Park

Continuing along the tunnel path, all the while surrounded by granite rock, you will eventually meet the tunnel entrance.  It never ceases to amaze me.  Out of the brightness of the day looms this inky black hole which threatens to engulf you.  Of course, you walk in willingly.

The entrance to the tunnel looming before us.

Now for a bit of history.  The tunnel was designed by C.Y. O’Connor and work on it commenced in 1894 and was completed in 1895 at a cost of £12,000.  During its construction, workmen lived in tents by the tunnel and would work for 24 hours a day (except Sundays) to ensure that the tunnel was completed within the specified time.  The 340 metre long tunnel was lined inside with masonary walls and a brick roof to prevent rock falls.

Walking carefully through the pitch black tunnel you will notice the many crevices that are built into the walls.  These crevices allowed workmen some protection to get out of the way as the train rolled by. Unfortunately though, the poor ventilation in the tunnel meant that some men suffocated from the smoke and fumes.

Tunnel Crevice

The tunnel walk seems like it might just last forever but eventually you do reach the end.  It’s probably the only time where you can literally see the light at the end of the tunnel (pardon the pun – I couldn’t resist!).

Light at the end of the tunnel.

For more detailed information on the history of the tunnel, please check out: http://www.dec.wa.gov.au/parks-and-recreation/key-attractions/swan-view-tunnel.html

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7 thoughts on “Swan View Railway Tunnel

  1. Shannon Jae says:

    I would personally like to know if anyone has any detailed information on the workers who built the tunnel and their deaths, grim as it sounds, the tunnel would have been built by pioneers and natives, convicts maybe, yet there is no information out there.
    I’ve personally been told that there used to be holes not only in the walls but also down under the tracks, that have been filled in since. Where these holes also places for the workers to hide? Are any of the workers, that may have died from exhaustion, suffocation or being hit by a train buried anywhere around this area. Does anyone know what the use was for the cupboard thats in the wall?
    I’m hoping to find any information if anyone has any.
    Much regards.

    1. Jess says:

      Hi Shannon,

      You’re not alone! I’d love to know more about the tunnel too. This post was written back in 2010 and I remember I had a lot of trouble finding information back then and probably still would. Some of the information that was posted were from memories of walking the tunnel with my Grandma and the stories she told me a bit about it. Have you tried searching through the newspaper articles on Trove (trove.nla.gov.au)? Old photos of the tunnel/tracks on the State Library WA website are also listed. Good luck with your search! Let me know if you happen to find anything. 🙂

    2. Jess says:

      PS: I’ve just realised that the above link was broken. I’ve updated it so hopefully the DEC website can give you some more info too (http://www.dec.wa.gov.au/parks-and-recreation/key-attractions/swan-view-tunnel.html).

      1. John says:

        I went into that tunnel with my girlfriend when we traveled to Perth in about 1998. We went there for a laugh after dinner one night. About 50 meters into the tunnel, we heard the unmistakable sound of a steam train barreling towards us. The whole tunnel was filled with noise and we literally ran out of the entrance as fast as we could. We figured that there must have been a new train line built on top of the tunnel and that a train had gone over the top of us, but I found out later, that wasn’t the case. Weirdest thing that I have ever experienced. We told our friends about it at the time and they thought we were having them on.

  2. Tracy says:

    Hi I was wondering if you could tell me how to get to it and how far the walk is I cant find much info thankyou

    1. Jess says:

      Hi Tracy,

      I’m not sure which direction you’ll be coming from but I travel through Guildford onto Great Eastern Highway. Once on Great Eastern, turn left at Morrison Road. Stay on Morrison until you reach Pechey Road – turn left and then immediately on your right is the gravel carpark. There are signs along the walk which provide information as well as a map of the area. From what I remember, I think one of the signs said the walk to the tunnel is about 0.7kms. Of course, if you keep walking beyond the tunnel, it is a much longer walk.

      Hope this helps! 🙂

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