Tag Archives: West Coast Wilderness Railway

Strahan, Tasmania – Australia – Part One

Along the main road from Devonport and onto Strahan, there’ll be the odd opportunity to take a photo from the roadway. Generally, I found if there was a superb view coming up in the distance, the ability to pull over was a little further ahead. Slow right down as most of us from country regions know that loose gravel and speed is treacherous. There shouldn’t be any need to be hasty as the road is really quite winding and concentration while driving is paramount – not to mention it can be tiring.

I was relieved to find Marsden Court Apartments were at the first crossroads into Strahan, so easy for me to find my accommodation after a long drive.

Before settling into my accommodation for the night, owner Pam advised to head down to Ocean Beach for the evening’s magical curtain call. She wasn’t wrong! How terrific is this sunset and it’s not too far from Marsden Court Apartments – just a block or so down the road, then turn right and follow the signs. Obviously you won’t be disappointed! No retouching on this photo …

Loved the story Pam told me later on as to how she was visiting the east coast at Swansea some years ago to see the sun rise, and then drove home to the west coast after about six hours to watch it set at Ocean Beach on the same day.

Take a snack and drink to revel in the changing light show. Over the years I’d heard how beautiful Strahan is, but you should check it out for yourself and truly appreciate how fabulous its beauty and clean, fresh air really is.  I understand if you flew ‘by the crow’  westwards, the first country you’d reach would be the southern tip of Argentina.

Happy to say, Marsden Court’s self-contained, spacious two-bedroom or studio accommodation apartments are fully equipped with all conveniences such as microwaves and hotplates to prepare your meals. Additionally, they have air conditioning and private balconies. Home away from home …

Marsden Court offers spacious, modern studios and two-bedroom apartments with kitchenettes which have all the facilities of home. Large flat-screen TV and DVD players are available along with wifi in each room. They also have provision for those who are less mobile and are green accredited.

For bookings see http://www.marsdencourt.com.au

The two-bedroom apartments of Sharonlee Strahan Villas (just across the road from Marsden Court) are great for families with full sized ovens, microwaves, a large fridge and spacious lounge and dining areas.

My recommendation is to stay in Strahan at least four to five nights as there’s so much to see and enjoy in the region. And, when you feel the comfort of home like this property after a long drive, then you can be assured of feeling relaxed and on holiday. Free parking alongside your accommodation too – so no need to worry about your vehicle and you can unpack your goodies with ease.

For bookings check http://www.sharonleestrahanvillas.com.au 

And just up the hill a couple of blocks away in Strahan there’s the local IGA and bakery for all your supplies. No need to eat out every night as you can just ‘chill out’ in your PJs and cook up a storm.

Both properties can also be booked through the TasVillas group check out: http://tasvillas.com/our-properties/the-west-north-west-and-cradle-valley/

Both properties are either side of Andrew Street and run by Pam and Mark who are incredibly helpful and full of the local area’s information and have a tour desk on site.

However, it was interesting to note the old original railway turntable had been here on the Sharonlee property and they donated it to the West Coast Wilderness Railway at Regatta Point in Strahan. Now it’s a lovely rose garden within their premises for all guests to admire.

So here it is – next morning everyone has the chance to see the old turntable still in use here at Regatta Point in Strahan.

Today’s outing is with the West Coast Wilderness Railway and the feeling in the air is that everyone’s very excited about being a passenger on a full-day excursion to Queenstown and return on a  steam locomotive – and is still being used as an historically important part of Tasmania’s livelihood. Standing proudley is one of the original Dubs & Co Abt steam locomotives; she may be small but has a big heart in what’s about to be tackled up ahead of her today.

So, Good Morning to you majestic little lady – now being steamed up and prepared for all to enjoy. We’re going to be hauled along to some magnificent heights during the day as the steepest gradient on the rack section is 1 in 15 (6.67%).

To start off the morning whilst the locomotive is being readied for its outing, the passengers can enjoy a morning pastry with tea/coffee before boarding. Tickets and seating is given when checking in at the office.

The West Coast Wilderness Railway is a reconstruction of the Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Company in Tasmania between Queenstown and Regatta Point. If you’re visiting Strahan this is a definite to have on your to-do list and a huge favourite with families.

Way to go! With a toot of the locomotive’s driver, we’re on our way.

When you see the terrain of what the railway workers constructed overland and through the forestation back in the late 1800s, it’s incredibly hard to believe that it was ever made possible. The railway utilised the Abt rack and pinion system for steep sections and can be seen in the centre of the track here. Because of the gradients, tonnages used in the past to transport copper was always limited on the railway line as the gauge is 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm).

Iron bridges over massive gorges are numerous.

The views across the escarpments are second to none and again we can see the rack and pinion system with its ‘teeth’ assisting the locomotive to make our day a reality.

Pete giving the petite loco a drink as it’s thirsty work and we’ve yet to tackle the more steeper areas along the way to Queenstown and then back again.

Ready to go and with another toot we all know it’s time to board and push onwards.

In the township of Queenstown, the discovery of gold and copper deposits at the Iron Blow in the 1880s led to the opening of the vast operations of the Mt Lyell Mining & Railway Co. Lovely area to visit and steeped in history – even for a day trip.

Additionally the station here caters with the Tracks Café offering delicious meals at an affordable price and the staff are really friendly. The new terminus in Queenstown is on the site of the original station yard.

You may wish to book a package which includes lunch within your ticket price.

Mining started in the 1880s with the Queen River being used for waste water disposal from the Mt Lyell copper mine. Between 1922 and 1995 low grade ore was concentrated on site and the tailings (ore-washing residue) dumped in the river also.

Having a hand at gold panning when we stopped for afternoon tea.

Magnificent views homeward bound with the fresh smell of eucalyptus trees while we chug along.

And at the end of the day, I think Pete’s put in a good hard day’s work at the ‘office’, but geez he looks like he’s enjoyed going to work each and every day.

The West Coast Wilderness Rail returns to Strahan around 5:00 pm and scheduled services only operate till the early days of April due to poor light towards the colder months. However, check their website for half-day outings.

For bookings see http://www.wcwr.com.au/bookings/