Nov 11 The West Coast Wilderness Railway was one of the major highlights of the Tasmania adventure. The original steam railway from Strahan to Queenstown has been fully retored for a journey through dense rainforests and past cavernous gorges and rushing rivers. When the railway was built in Tasmania, it was considered one of the engineering marvels of Australia, using the unique ABT (named after the German inventor) rack and pinnion system for the steep up and down grades.
The West Coast pioneers who built the original railway in 1896 accomplished a great feat of labour. For many miles along the King River the railway line was hewn with pick and shovel out of the steep side of the gorge. Forty two bridges were built over the 22-mile long stretch of wilderness; for the ‘quarter mile’ bridge below the gorge, pylons had to be driven 60 feet into the silt with men constantly up to their waists in the cold water.
We chose a little luxury and travelled in the Premier carriage (with only 2 other passengers) to include local gourmet refreshments and wine served all day.
On one of the stops along the way, we experienced how the old gold miners used to pan for their fortunes and Siobhan actually found a nugget (note the photo is somewhat enlarged for effect).