Bitumen Roads

Road making was a long process. Before motor vehicles were used, horses were attached to a long grader with big steel wheels to even the gravel then the roller was drawn along by horses till the road was level. Eventually they decided to tar the main roads. In drums that hold about 44 gallons there would be one solid cake of tar. These drums were taken to the area – laid on their sides and cut with an axe and the opened drum of tar was stood over the fire till it melted, then with a big ladle attached to a long handle, the melted tar was ladled into a big watering can, and poured through the big rose till the roadway was covered. This was followed up by blue metal which was again rolled. Some people opened the tar drums, flattened the sheets and used them for building.

Frank Wallis tells the story that when the Darling Range Roads Board – later the Kalamunda Shire Council – now the City of Kalamunda – were laying the first coat of bitumen along Canning Road – past their property, a highly exciting event took place. His father owned a very big black – with a number of white markings – cow called “Connie”. She was a very quite old cow and his Mother could always milk her if Dad was away. He and his sister could wander around the paddock, and go near her in safety if she was tethered in the orchard. However one day they had a very urgent call from the Road Board workers to tell his Dad that the cow was frightening the lives out of all the men working on the road tarring job. Dad Wallis went to that section of the property and found Connie there – raging at the fence with her large strong horns and bellowing like the old proverbial wounded bull. He managed to get the long chain he used to tether her, around her head and led her away to the relief of those Road Board workers. His Dad soon realised that old Connie was upset by the strong acrid smell of the boiling hot tar which the men were melting down, just outside her fence. Eventually Canning and Pomeroy Roads were tarred.

Reference: Article: Memories of Walliston

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