Skip to main content

Please be advised: this website contains the names, images and voices of people who are now deceased.

Collections WA has a responsibility to preserve and make accessible the history and culture of Western Australia in all its various forms. The intention of Collections WA is to support research, and to reveal actions of the past that have impacted upon communities, families, and individuals.

In doing so, Collections WA acknowledges the need to respond sensitively and appropriately in cases when accessing this material may be confronting to Aboriginal visitors and clients.

Please also note: Some historical materials within this portal may include language or opinions that today are considered inappropriate or even offensive. Collections WA does not endorse this language and apologises for any distress caused.

Warn before showing
culturally sensitive content
Don't warn before
showing culturally sensitive content

If you wish to provide feedback on the Collections WA portal, please email contact@collectionswa.net.au.

Bullion van

1908
Historical information

VY 4999 was built to transport gold from the Eastern Goldfields to the Perth Mint. It was a bullion van for 40 years. Built by the WA Government Railways at their Midland workshops in April 1908, it was fitted out to include a large central walk-in safe of size 13ft in (4.11m) long and 3ft (91cm) wide.
The vehicle had to be ‘self-contained’ as the accompanying bank officers were locked in the van at Kalgoorlie until the end of the journey in Perth. This was important for security but was most unpopular. In 1926, following the murder of gold stealing detection squad members Pitman & Walsh, their remains were transported in the bullion van to Perth after being retrieved from a mine shaft.
On other trips the ‘locked in’ officers just had to contend with hearing passengers heading for cold refreshments at the stops! One bank official recalled that it was a rough ride and sleeping on the floor was best.
At the end of 1948 it was converted to a workman’s van. In 1991 it was no longer required by the railways. After being given to RHWA it was used in 1997 for the Barron Films production of ‘The Gift’.

Details

Details

Registration number
cwa-org-23-2009.214
Material
Contextual Information

Classified by National Trust of Australia (WA).

Keywords
Transport
Railways
Western Australian Government Railways
Gold
Bullion
Kalgoorlie
Murder
Pitman Walsh
Country
Australia
Year
1908
Statement of significance

Of the three bullion vans used to transport gold in WA, VY 4999 is the only one left. It represents an era when rail was the main means of transport between Perth and the Goldfields. It is one of the earliest vehicles built at the former WAGR Workshops in Midland that is still intact.
It is of historic significance for its links with the gold mining industry in WA and its links to the aftermath of the Pitman and Walsh murders.

Primary significance criteria
Historic significance
Social or spiritual significance
Comparative significance criteria
Interpretive capacity
Object’s condition or completeness
Rare or representative
Well provenanced
Rail Heritage WA

Rail Heritage WA

Organisation Details
View Collection
Indian Red coloured bullion van with side doors open
The bullion van is a timber body painted Indian Red with side opening doors. All windows have bars on them.
Internal view of Bullion Van showing bunks where bank officers slept
Interior of Bullion Van is painted butterscoth colour. They is a pair of bunk beds at the end of the carriage together with a table and chair (not original)
interior view of Bullion van with frame of outline of the size of the safe used for the gold bullion.
Floor plan of Bullion van showing safe in layout
Fllor plan of bullion van together as built