The West Coast Wilderness Steam Train

The West Coast Wilderness Railway operates as a steam train journey from both Strahan and Queenstown. There is something magic about steam trains. I love to be able to step back in time reliving the history as you sit in the comfort of fully refurbished carriages. The first part of the Railway, from Queenstown to Teepookana was completed in 1896. The rest of the line, linking Queenstown to Strahan was completed in 1900, when the final link to Regatta Point was completed.

The romance of old world travel

You have a choice of full day trips and half day trips. We took the full day trip and we loved it even though it made it a very long day. Bookings are essential for the fully catered carriages, however we were happy to pack a picnic lunch and look after ourselves rather than wait for several days if not weeks for a vacancy.

The King River and the wide variety of rainforest foliage

The trip starts at Regatta Point, just outside of Strahan. The scenery is absolutely superb and unique. There are aspects of the forests and the rivers that you will not be able to see in any other medium even by strenuous bush walking. You will see how the bush is almost impenetrable at times and recognize the difficulties of the steep terrain that challenged the railway builders let alone the weather and such that made life very difficulty. It certainly gave a more realistic idea of what the builders had to put up with. It is such a steep gradient from 12-1 and even 20-1 at one stage, that a very special rack and pinion track had to be brought in from Switzerland, who's designer, Mr Abt, is where the name of the railway comes from. It is thirsty work for the steam trains and though we cross something like 40 bridges,(in just 38km of rail lines, the water has to be collected and 'fed' into the train at numerous stops along the way. Around 8000 litres of water is needed for the return journey, hence the frequent stops but that's good as you get to hop out and have a look around.

A steam train needs a lot of water

You will see the King River Gorge with its quiet waters and at times the white waters of the rapids, and you'll discover why the Queen River is extraordinarily yellow. The last couple of hours appear to drag and the scenery is rather repetitive, mainly because you've seen it on the way up, it was really just that we were totally worn out by the long day. However it was a very entertaining, informative and interesting day and we are both glad we went. I must say that I can thoroughly recommend the trip on this unique steam train.

Being on a steam train is a trip down memory lane for me

Happy travels until the next time

Michelle & Rob

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