The West Coast Wilderness Railway
Love the romance of the days of steam? The old wood-lined carriages with shiny brass trimmings, the breathy puffing of steam engines and the evocative, echoing train whistle? Then hop on board the West Coast Wilderness Railway, which runs through breathtaking rainforest between Strahan and Queenstown.
When it was first built in 1896, this train and its tortuous route through remote country was a marvel of engineering. It clings to the steep-sided gorge of the (once-polluted, now-recovering) King River, passing through dense myrtle rainforest over 40 bridges and on gradients that few other rolling stock could handle. The railway was the lifeblood of the Mt Lyell Mining & Railway Co in Queenstown, connecting it for ore and people haulage to the port of Teepookana on the King River, and later with Strahan. The original railway closed in 1963.
Ride options on offer include standard carriages where you pay for a seat only, and wilderness carriages where you are allocated a seat but can also take advantage of an outdoor viewing platform and enjoy a glass of sparkling wine and either morning tea and lunch or a high tea. Expect reduced services outside the high season (especially June and July) and always check the website for schedule and price updates.
Rack & Gorge (standard carriage adult/child/family $110/55/245, wilderness carriage adult/child $175/100) Departs Queenstown at 9am (and 2.15pm during summer), looping through the King River Gorge to Dubbil Barril and then returning to Queenstown.
River & Rainforest (standard carriage adult/child/family $110/55/245, wilderness carriage adult/child $175/100) Departs Strahan at 9am (and 2.15pm during summer). The route skirts the harbour, enters the rainforest and then returns to Strahan after crossing many of the route's spectacular bridges.
Queenstown Explorer (standard carriage adult/child/family $185/80/390, wilderness carriage adult/child $239/130) Departs Strahan at 8.30am and runs the railway's full length through gorge and rainforest to Queenstown (where there's a one-hour stop), before returning to Strahan at 5.30pm.