Thursday, 14 April 2016

West Coast Wilderness Railway

Tuesday 12th April 2016

From overhead bridge at Rinadeena Station
This is not a bush walk, nor is it in the south east, but I thought I would briefly share with you the experience of the West Coast Wilderness railway which we undertook this week.
See the West Coast Wilderness Railway site for costs, timetables and bookings.
We decided to do the Queenstown Explorer journey which is an all day trip that starts in Strahan and travels to Queenstown and return. There are shorter options for half day trips. We also opted to take the more expensive fare which entitles passengers to lunch and snacks etc. all day and a slightly better carriage. It was definitely worth it.
After collecting our tickets at the Strahan station and settling down in our seats the train left at 0830.
The first section of the journey was around the coast past Lettes Bay in Macquarie Harbour and then the track followed the King River upstream for quite some distance.
King River

King River at the first station walk
The King River was flowing quite strongly and was a muddy brown due to recent rain. We soon reached our first station where we stopped for 20 minutes or so and where there was a short walk down to the King River. There are no toilets on the train but they are at all the stations.


At the first station- walk to river on right
From here the track crossed the river a few times and there were bridges across many gullies and some were very high above the surrounding landscape.
Crossing the river with the remains of the old bridge downstream
We arrived at Dubbil Barril station which is where the rack and pinion track system starts. This is employed because trains cannot cope with steep hills as they can't maintain traction. A third rail is used in between the tracks and a cog engages with the teeth in this track to provide the traction necessary for ascend or descending hills.

Dubbil Barril showing third rail

Dubbil Barril

Dubbil Barril Station

Turntable Dubbil Barril

Third Rail


Dubbil Barril
After leaving Dubbil Barril the track follows the spectacular King River Gorge for a time where there are great views. The engineer stopped on the way back above the gorge so we could take in the scenery.
King River Gorge

King River Gorge

King River Gorge

King River Gorge
 The engine huffed and puffed up the track to Rinadeena saddle for another stop where it had to take on water.
Rinadeena

Rinadeena

Rinadeena

Walkway over the track at Rinadeena
After Rinadeena Saddle it was downhill to just past Halls Creek and then slightly uphill to Queenstown following the Queen River. Here we had a stop of one and a half to two hours where a great buffet lunch was provided and where some participated in a short historical walk of Queenstown. All too soon it was time for the return journey with a change of engine.
Heritage Carriage

Engine on return journey


The return journey was as enjoyable as the outward leg. There was a stop for gold panning at Lynchford on the way. The poor little engine had to really work hard to climb back up to Rinadeena Saddle as it was a steeper climb from this direction but it made it okay. It did seem to slow to about walking pace for a while with copious amounts of steam being emitted.
Queen River

Queen River

Lynchford
All along the way we enjoyed plenty of snacks and tea and coffee etc. and commentary, which was much appreciated.
Mountainous scenery

Mountainous scenery.
We arrived back in Strahan at about 5.30 pm.
This was a most enjoyable experience. The staff were great, the meals and snacks and service were excellent, so I have no reservations in highly recommending this adventure.

6 comments :

  1. Hi Denis, very informative and some great photos. It should inspire visitors to Tassie to travel on our iconic railway

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    1. Thanks Chris. Yes, a great adventure. Hopefully it will inspire more visitors.

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  2. We went this time last year. Fantastic. Just a bit mystified as to why you say South-East. It's actually south-west Tasmania, unless you're looking downward from mainlaind Australia (not)

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    1. Kate, thanks for your comment. Just to clarify things, my blog is called Hiking South East Tasmania but the West Coast Wilderness Railway was an extra activity that I included for interest sake. I did state in the opening line of the post that it was not in the south east.

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  3. My wife and I enjoyed a trip from Queenstown to Strahan a few years ago. Just as your comments we booked the more expensive carriage and throughly enjoyed the trip, the meals and the adventure!
    I would and do recommend the West Coast Wilderness Railway to anyone looking for something a little different.

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    1. Thanks Paul. Yes, it certainly is a great trip.

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