Karalee Rocks was developed as a catchment and reservoir for steam trains in the 1890s and is a stop on the Golden Pipeline Heritage Trail. As a stop on the Golden Pipeline Heritage Trail, visitors can enjoy this special place and learn about its fascinating history on two interpreted trails.
About Karalee Rocks
Located in the Yilgarn region of Western Australia between the Wheatbelt and Goldfields on Kaprun Country, Karalee Rocks is an important part of the story of the Eastern Goldfields Railway, the development of the goldfields and the state.
Visitors are welcome to stay for a day or camp overnight. There are plenty of large sites suitable for tents and caravans. Picnic tables and campfire rings are provided. Please note the toilet and blackwater dumping point are are not currently operational.
Two easy walk trails that include interpretive signage take you around the site and across the rocks while explaining the various elements of this engineering feat.
Please note there is no water available on site, and swimming in the dam is not recommended. If you wish to have a campfire you need to bring firewood. Using wood from the area is not permitted to avoid damage to the fragile ecology of the site.
Bring your firewood, but please be mindful of the Shire’s burning periods.
Karalee Rocks is 4km north of the Great Eastern Highway and 34km east of Southern Cross. There is a gravel road to enter the site that is suitable for all vehicles. However, the condition of the road is dependent on grading and weather.
With minimal intervention, the site is managed by the National Trust from Perth with assistance from volunteers.
Karalee Rocks has an association with the Goldfields Water Supply Scheme, one of the most ambitious engineering and infrastructure schemes of the late nineteenth century.
Nestled beneath gimlets and other eucalypts of the Great Western Woodlands are two large granite outcrops adapted in the late nineteenth century to maximise the catchment, delivery and storage of rainwater for steam trains heading to the eastern goldfields.
Granite outcrops are ecologically complex biodiversity hot spots with freshwater gnammas, which provide habitat for many species and have sustained human life for thousands of years.
Water falling on the granite outcrops is directed by stone walls into a metal aqueduct from where it flows into an earth tank that can hold nearly 50 million litres of water. The sight of the massive aqueduct, seemingly out of context in the environment, never fails to impress.
Early explorers established a track to the goldfields that passed between the two rocks at Karalee. A well and dam were built – possibly as early as 1865 – followed by construction of the Southern Cross to Coolgardie telegraph, along the Goldfields Road, in 1894.
An additional well was established in 1895 and in the same year the railway was extended from Southern Cross to Coolgardie, passing 3 kilometres south of Karalee Rocks.
In order to supply water for the railway, in 1897 a low wail was constructed around the perimeter of the rocks as a catchment system. Exfoliated sheet granite from the rocks was used for this wall. Water was directed through rock and steel flumes to a reservoir that served steam locomotives until the introduction of diesel between 1953 and 1956.
A railway station and hotel had been constructed by 1903 and these continued to operate until a new standard gauge railway line was constructed in 1968, by passing Karalee. The station was closed in 1971.