Trainspotters, train buffs and trainers, you'll love this trip of steam and diesel!
The west coast Wilderness Railway was built in the late 1800s to transport copper from the Mt Lyell Mine in Queenstown to the port of Strahan.
It was forced to climb a peak steeper than any other railway in Australia and the revolutionary new European system, known as Abt rack and pinion, was used. It gets its name from Dr Roman Abt, a Swiss engineer. It proved a success and survived bush fires, mining strikes, floods and flu epidemics and operated non-stop for 67 years. The track crosses 35 bridges, including one over a 65m drop into the King River Gorge.
In the early 1960s road transport was considered to be more viable and the railway lay dormant for 40 years. Its restoration was slow but now passengers can take a four-hour journey through the pristine rainforest of the wild west coast.
The ride begins at the new station in the centre of Queenstown. It stands on the site of the original station, complete with Tasmanian timber ticket box and engine turntable.
Lynchford is the first stop and is where the engine is refilled at the water tower. The half-hour stop allows passengers to disembark and try their luck at finding a few specks of gold. The whole west coast is dotted with gold mines and shafts for exploring.
Second stop is 10 minutes at Rinadeena, a former gemstone mining town.
The beautiful King River Gorge stop is the perfect place or some memorable photographs.
At Dubbil Barril station, which is at about the half-way point, you have lunch while the steam engine goes onto a turntable and is replaced by a diesel engine for the rest of the journey to Regatta Point, five minutes from Strahan.
Weather permitting, the walk to Strahan is very pleasant, but there is a shuttle bus if you prefer.