Kalamunda Zig Zag

The Kalamunda Zig Zag was a zig zag rail line that was part of the Upper Darling Range Railway line in Western Australia, opening in July 1891 and closing in July 1949. Most of it was converted to a public road in 1952, part of which is now a tourist drive called Zig Zag Scenic Drive that offers views of Perth from the hills.[1]

Kalamunda Zig Zag
G class + AD class, Zig Zag, 1937.jpg
G class on the Zig Zag in 1937
StatusConverted to a public road
Coordinates31°56′44″S 116°03′00″E / 31.945674°S 116.049896°E / -31.945674; 116.049896 (Kalamunda Zig Zag)Coordinates: 31°56′44″S 116°03′00″E / 31.945674°S 116.049896°E / -31.945674; 116.049896 (Kalamunda Zig Zag) Edit this at Wikidata
TypeZig Zag railway
SystemWestern Australian Government Railways
Line length3 kilometres
Track gauge1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in)


Statham's Quarry Number 2 points
Gradient profile map

The Kalamunda Zig Zag was completed in July 1891, as part of the Upper Darling Range Railway line in Western Australia which was built by the Canning Jarrah Timber Company from a junction with the Midland line at Midland Junction to Canning Mills to transport railway sleepers to Perth's growing railway system. On 1 July 1903, the line was taken over by the Western Australian Government Railways.[2][3] To overcome a steep gradient up the Darling Scarp, a zig zag was built between Ridge Hill and Gooseberry Hill stations, being cheaper to build than a continuous gradient line. The Kalamunda Zig Zag closed on 22 July 1949 along with the rest of the line. In 1952 the track was removed and most of the Kalamunda Zig Zag converted into a narrow bitumen road.

Part of this road is now a tourist drive called Zig Zag Scenic Drive, with the zig zag section that descends down the Darling Scarp being one-way in the direction of descent with a speed limit of 40 kilometres per hour (25 mph) and, as of May 2022, closed to motor vehicles between the hours of 8:30 pm and 11 am.[2][3][4][5] This section of road was closed to motor vehicles completely by the City of Kalamunda in May 2020 due to reports of anti-social behaviour at night including hooning, drug use and cruelty to wildlife.[1][6] After more than 12 months of closure, the road reopened in July 2021 on a 12 month trial basis, with motor vehicle access limited to between 11 am and 8:30 pm.[7] In May 2022, City of Kalamunda councillors voted to keep the road open permanently with the night and early morning motor vehicle curfew to continue, despite concerns about the ongoing cost to do so.[8]


The sections of the railway that made up the zig zag were:

  • Ridge Hill (lower section of Kalamunda Zig Zag)
  • Number 1 Points
  • Number 2 Points Statham's Quarry known also as Perth City Council Siding from 1920
  • Number 3 Points
  • Number 4 Points (upper section of Kalamunda Zig Zag)

The gradient is as steep as 1 in 27 with an average of 1 in 38.[2]


Every year the City of Kalamunda holds a "Zig Zag Walk" event, in which the zig zag section is closed to all but pedestrians, providing people with the opportunity to admire the views and see the area's wildflowers; Zig Zag Scenic Drive is a part of the Darling Range Regional Park. The Zig Zag Walk occurs around early October every year.[9] On the last Sunday of October each year, there is a community arts festival called the "Zig Zag Festival" held in Stirk Park, Kalamunda.[10]

The zig zag is also used as a stage in the Targa West Rally. The road is closed to all traffic and the stage is run in reverse road direction, from the bottom to the top.[11]


  1. ^ a b "Historic Perth Zig Zag road closed amid concerns about drugs, violence and animal cruelty".
  2. ^ a b c Bromby, Robyn (1988). Australian Rail Annual 1988. Sutherland: Sherbourne Sutherland Publishing. pp. 115–120. ISBN 1-86275-004-1.
  3. ^ a b History of the Railway Pickering Brook Heritage Group
  4. ^ Kalamunda Zig Zag Trail Rail Trails
  5. ^ "Zig Zag Scenic Drive". City of Kalamunda. 2022. Retrieved 29 May 2022.
  6. ^ "Zig Zag Scenic Drive".
  7. ^ "The Breathtakingly Scenic Zig Zag Drive In The Perth Hills Will Reopen Next Month".
  8. ^ "Perth's Zig Zag Scenic Drive to stay open with night-time curfew, but Mayor wants WA government to pay".
  9. ^ "Walk the Zig Zag". Shire of Kalamunda. 2016. Archived from the original on 19 March 2016. Retrieved 30 May 2022.
  10. ^ "Zig Zag Festival". Shire of Kalamunda. 2016. Archived from the original on 31 March 2017. Retrieved 30 May 2022.
  11. ^ "Stage Maps". Targa West. 2017. Archived from the original on 31 March 2017. Retrieved 30 May 2022.

Further readingEdit

  • Steele, Ken (1993). Zig Zag to Kalamunda: the story of the Upper Darling Range Railway. Lesmurdie, Western Australia: Drillmark Publications. ISBN 0-646-16323-X. OCLC 38339616.
  • Watson, Lindsay (1995). The railway history of Midland Junction: commemorating the centenary of Midland Junction, 1895-1995. Swan View, Western Australia: L & S Drafting in association with the Shire of Swan and the Western Australian Light Railway Preservation Association. OCLC 221693605.

External linksEdit