In about 1854 a mill and wharf were built on the west bank of the River Don about 2km upstream from the Don Heads. To get the timber out of the bush a tramway was built up the valley and from 1862 the line also served a small coal mine, situated about 3km above the mill.
This tramway was replaced in 1873 when the Don River Company started to build a new line of 4’6” (approx. 1,137 mm) from the wharf, just inside the Don Heads, along the west bank of the river and up the valley. By May 1879 the tramway was completed to Barrington a distance of 21km from Don Heads.
As timber was removed pioneer farmers settled in the region and in 1873 a portable steam engine worked the railway. However, in 1884 the line was worked entirely by horses, although 11 of the 21km were then laid with iron rails. Timber supplies diminished and in the late 1880’s the tramway was abandoned.
In 1904, a royal commission considered the Don Valley as a route for a branch to the Sheffield district but decided in favour of a shorter line from Railton to Roland. The Don would probably never have seen another railway if Broken Hill Proprietary had not decided to work the large limestone deposits about 10km up the valley.
As the company planned to take a very large quantity of Limestone to supply its Newcastle steelworks with flux a railway was necessary to bring it down to Devonport and the government agreed to build a branch to the quarry site near the village of Melrose
Based on an article by Mr. H.J.W. Stokes.