West Coast Wilderness Railway gets the shunt


We timed our trip to Strahan well with the announcement from the West Coast Wilderness Railway that it will be out of action from April this year. We could not believe our luck as it was announced the day after we had made our bookings.IMG_9758

We opted for first class and very happy with that decision as we were able to see the action of the drivers of the steam train. Not to mention the food and wine we were plied with all day.IMG_9740

The railway is a restoration of the original Mt Lyell Mining and Railway Company built to bring out the copper concentrates from Queenstown. Overcoming the rough terrain and distance was a major feat in building the Abt rack and pinion system.

The rack ensured the train had a secure grip on the rails to negotiate the steep track areas.IMG_9731

The Abt gets its name from the Swiss engineer Dr Roman Abt who invented the rack system. It is a third rail of solid bars with vertical teeth and small cogwheels engage with the teeth on the middle rail.IMG_9774

The first half of our trip the coaches were pulled by a diesel locomotive and the second half we watched as the steam locomotive was attached. It was at this point we noticed the fireman was a woman who is fully qualified and our carriage host told us it is her preference is to be called a fireman. The male engine driver we were informed is from a long line of drivers in the area and I cannot help but feel sorry for him if he has to leave his family home for new work, that is if any is available elsewhere.IMG_9750

The charming and comfortable carriages are fitted out in Tasmanian timbers and modelled on the original Mt Lyell carriages. IMG_9766

It appears now that any rebuilding plans will be shelved until the Federal Group who have run the railway since 2002 negotiate with the Tasmanian or Federal government to fund restoration of the track.

IMG_9763The train tracks have seen seven decades of traversing the wilderness of the west of Tasmania and major contributor to the economic well being of the towns and settlements of the West Coast.

Latest news in The Mercury yesterday February 20, 2013 is that the West Coast Council, tourism operators and the Tasmanian Tourism Industry Council are pleading….!!!! with the Federal Government to make a quick decision. The Australian federal government and quick decisions are an oxymoron surely a business plan should have been forwarded long before this by the Federal Group. Considering the Federal Group control and offer most of the accommodation in Strahan you would think this issue would have been signalled with more notice, particularly as they describe themselves as the leading provider in Tasmania of tourism, entertainment, conference, event and corporate experiences. Why did they leave it so long to say they could no longer continue after April this year? Is it a tactic to get the government to pay for it?


  1. #1 by Lynda on February 20, 2013 - 9:21 pm

    Strahan is a most magical place. I will always remember my trip up the Gordon & Franklin river and the stop over at Sarah Island. A most humbling experience to see where some of our earliest convicts were incarcerated, surely hell on earth for them. What a shame should the railway be lost, aren’t the carriages so beautiful not to mention the scenery. Tasmania is so lovely.

    • #2 by tastetravel on February 20, 2013 - 9:24 pm

      Lynda, lets hope commonsense prevails as this is a major drawcard for the area, and since the train goes to Queenstown and alternately offers departures from Queenstown that town is ill fated like the convicts on Sarah Island were. Roz

  2. #3 by Ron Pirotta on February 21, 2013 - 9:17 pm

    Great post Roz. Strahan was the highlight of our trip there in 2007. Love the interior of the train cars. Tell Julia and Bob Carr to stay home for a while and give away some of our taxes to Australians for a change and keep icons like this railway operational.

  3. #4 by Debra Kolkka on February 22, 2013 - 12:51 pm

    Let’s hope someone steps in to save it.

    • #5 by tastetravel on February 23, 2013 - 1:16 am

      I am watching to news for its fate.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: