Tasmania for train buffs

November 27, 2019
The West Coast Wilderness Railway is Tasmania’s leading heritage rail experience, and one of just a handful in the state

The West Coast Wilderness Railway is Tasmania’s leading heritage rail experience, and one of just a handful of tourist railway experiences in the state. It is being recognised as one of the world’s great train journeys.

Regular passenger services ceased in Tasmania during the 1970s, although there is a movement seeking to resume the rail corridor through Hobart’s northern suburbs as a passenger light rail service and volunteer ail organisations are keen to re-establish excursion services on some local routes.

The Tasmanian rail network is primarily used for freight, with lines linking the ports of Burnie and Devonport along the North West Coast, across to Launceston and Bell Bay near the mouth of the Tamar River, and south to the Brighton Transport Hub outside Hobart, where road transport now connects to the Port of Hobart.

Great rail experiences in Tasmania

There are a number of heritage rail experiences for those looking to take a train ride whilst visiting the State, although you will need to carefully plan your visit as most of them operate infrequently.

The Don River Railway operates year-round services offering 30-minute rides along a 3km stretch of line through the outskirts of Devonport. A few kilometres inland at Sheffield, the Redwater Creek Railway offers 15-minute rides along a 1 kilometre track and operates one weekend each month.

On the West Coast at Tullah (around 45 minutes’ drive north from Queenstown), Wee Georgie Wood, a steam loco dating from the 1920s, offers rides lasting approximately 20 minutes on selected weekends during the summer months.

West of Hobart, the Derwent Valley Railway is committed to the re-establishment of tourist rail in the Derwent Valley, linking attractions and experiences from New Norfolk to Mt Field National Park. It doesn’t have any train services at this time, but welcomes visitors to view its collection on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

The Tasmanian Transport Museum’s exhibits include railway locomotives, rail cars, carriages and wagons, trams, trolley buses, buses and many other historic items at its premises at Glenorchy in Hobart’s northern suburbs. Ten-minute train rides are available on the first and third Sunday of each month.

The Ida Bay Railway, located in Tasmania’s far south, is not currently operating.

The West Coast Wilderness Railway utilises the Abt Rack and Pinion system to navigate some steep grades through Tasmania's Western Wilderness

The West Coast Wilderness Railway

The West Coast Wilderness Railway operates year-round from both Queenstown and Strahan on a seasonal timetable, so there will always be a tour to coincide with your visit. The Railway is a recreation of the original Mount Lyell Railway along a 35 kilometre track through remote rainforest and river gorges between Queenstown and Strahan in Tasmania’s Western Wilderness. As you travel along marvelling at the engineering, ingenuity and sheer determination of those who built the railway, stories about its history are brought vividly to life by our stewards.

The West Coast Wilderness Railway offers a choice of two carriages – the comfortable Heritage Carriage and the indulgent Wilderness Carriage, with inclusive catering and refreshments and an open viewing balcony. Two half day tours – one each from Strahan and Queenstown – and a full day tour that operates the full length of the track from Strahan to Queenstown and back again are available,along with packages to include white water rafting and local history tours.

For the true train buff and puffer-nutter, what can beat living out your dream to be a train driver for a day? The West Coast Wilderness Railway’s Footplate Experience comes as close as you’re likely to get, allowing a passenger to work alongside the locomotive crew for the day. A perfect gift for the steam buff in your life.

To start planning your West Coast Wilderness Railway adventure, give us a call on 03 6471 0100 or book online.

Live out your engine-driver fantasies with our Footplate Experience





Driving Distance
Cradle Mountain to Queenstown

110km | 1hr 30 mins

(Queenstown to Strahan 41km | 45 mins)

Driving Distance
Devonport to Queenstown

181km | 2hrs 35 mins

(Queenstown to Strahan 41km | 45 mins)

Driving Distance
Hobart to Queenstown

260km | 3hrs 40 mins

(Queenstown to Strahan 41km | 45 mins)

Driving Distance
Launceston to Queenstown

296km | 3hrs 30 mins

(Queenstown to Strahan 41km | 45 mins)