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Sleeper Cutters Dray Display

c. 2015

This display has been constructed by Busselton Historical Society volunteers with financial assistance from Lotterywest to honour the legacy of the south west Sleeper Cutters.

The dray is a horse drawn tip dray from the 1900s which was commonly used for carting railway sleepers. This particular dray has square dowels on the wheel spokes, whereas most drays had round dowels.

Historical information

The 1890s saw the start of the expansion of the railways in Western Australia, initially due to the increased use of rail in the timber industry, which created a high demand for railway sleepers. The men who went out into the bush to obtain these sleepers were known as Sleeper Cutters. The Sleeper Cutters lived and worked in the bush, cutting sleepers by hand with a broad axe and loading them onto a dray, like this one, which would then transport the sleepers to the nearest railhead.



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Contextual Information

This dray was fully restored by Busselton Historical Society volunteers and the model horse pulling the dray was made onsite in our Blacksmith’s shed by a group of volunteers led by Malcolm Paine, the resident Blacksmith at the Old Butter Factory. The display was opened to the public in January 2015.

Visitors to Busselton should view the bronze memorial to the Sleeper Cutter in in the Art Geo Complex.

Place made
c. 2015
Primary significance criteria
Social or spiritual significance
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Busselton Historical Society

Busselton Historical Society

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Malcolm Paine (2nd from right) and other BHS members working on the model horse
Malcolm Paine (2nd from right) and other BHS members working on the model horse. Photo from the BHS Archive
1920s sleeper cutters
1920s sleeper cutters working in the bush. Photo from the BHS Archive