West Coast Wilderness Railway

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The whole coach group met down at sea level at 4 p.m. and we climbed back on board the coach.

 

We go by coach to the West Coast Wilderness Railway Station

Brett, the coach driver, drove us the short distance to the West Coast Wilderness station. 

Railway station for the West Coast Wilderness Railway The station for catching the quaint train
The carriage interior was a joy to behold Inside the restored carriages

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We hopped on board an exceedingly hot little train.  There were four quaint carriages and one food wagon.  The passenger carriages had very high ceilings and were beautifully decorated.  Sadly the carriage windows didn’t open and there was no working air-conditioning.  There was an air conditioner in the carriage but cool air could not be enticed out of it.  There were fans installed at each end of our carriage but they were perfectly useless.  We all sweltered on our journey into the forest.  This was apparently regarded as a “tourism award winning railway” but I don’t think it would have won any awards the day we were on it.

 

The railway dates back over one hundred years

We stop at teh end of the line for afternoon tea At the end of the journey we disembark

This historic railway first began running in 1897.  It was used to transport copper from the Queenstown mine to the port. 

The railway was in use until 1963.  It closed due to improved road accessibility to the mines and because of the enormous maintenance costs involved in keeping the railway safe.  In late 2002, after a huge expenditure by the Australian Government and after a lot of effort on behalf of the local community, the railway was re-opened to the public and a new tourism venture began.

 

 

A late afternoon tea on the platform

Serious dsicussions going on here Serious train men's business

Eventually the train stopped at our destination and we all climbed out on to the platform.  An afternoon tea was provided for us on the platform.  There were a couple of types of cake plus teas and coffees for those silly enough to drink them and become even hotter.  On the platform we were able to avail ourselves of the odd slight breeze but it really wasn’t much cooler than on the train. There were also some different types of honey to sample and buy.

Whilst we “refreshed” ourselves the train engine was shifted around to appear at the opposite end of the train for the journey back down to Strahan.   It took about 35 – 40 minutes for the journey in both directions but because it was suffocatingly hot it felt much longer. Anyone interested in trains would have liked the little trip into the forest but personally I thought it was much over-rated.

 

We were relieved to get off the train

Back down at sea level we were all thankful to climb out of the carriages for some much needed cooler and fresher air.  Our coach was there at the station ready to ferry everyone back to the village.  We all had to initially climb back onto the coach to be counted.  Unbeknown to me a bee was in my vicinity on the bus and I was stung on the hand.  Ian and I decided we needed some exercise so we made our plans known to the tour guide and we shot back down the steps of the coach and walked back.  The walk took 17 minutes. It felt glorious to really stretch our legs.  There was a new concrete walkway all the way back to the village centre so it was a very easy and pleasant walk.

Added later:  The railway has since closed.  I think this is partly due to falling patronage which has led to less money needed to maintain the railway.  Apparently the Tasmanian Government is working hard to resolve the issues and to re-open the railway ready for the next tourist season.

 

Yummy fish and chips for dinner

It was 6 p.m. when we got back to the village.  The coach driver and tour director had recommended a certain fish and chip shop to us so we decided we would head there for dinner. 

We enjoyed yummy fish and chips Ian grabbed a table and I went inside to order

On most nights our dinner was included in the tour price but this one was open for us to eat where and when we wanted which made a nice change.  There were only a couple of outdoor tables so Ian quickly bagged one for us and I went inside to order our meal.  We shared the serving, worth $14, and bought eight crumbed scallops for a treat.  The meal was delicious.  The scallops were huge in comparison to those we had at Mures in Hobart and much nicer.

Although it was nearly 7 p. m. it was still very light.  We find it strange to have such light and extended evenings in this part of Australia.  We don’t get them where we live.  After eating we dragged ourselves back up the steps to the hotel, feeling hot and pooped.  We allowed ourselves to be way-laid in the lounge and we enjoyed a lemon, lime and bitters and sat down chatting and relaxing with other members of our tour group.

After a while our driver and director joined us and informed us of the problems our boat had experienced after our morning trip up the river.  Apparently one of the propellers came off and the boat had to limp back to shore.  Another propeller had to be ordered from Hobart and the boat company was hopeful it would arrive the next day.  It seems divers will have to go out to attempt to retrieve the lost propeller.  We all wondered how on earth a propeller would arrive by the next day and we wondered about how it would get fitted back on to the craft under water.

Back in our rooms we enjoyed a refreshing shower.  The room was quite warm but at least the heater wasn’t on, like yesterday! 

 

 

Next page: The coach driver's tales

 

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Yacht moored in Strahan

Yacht moored at Strahan