The West Coast
Wilderness Railway

The West Coast Wilderness Railway between Queenstown and Strahan was originally built in 1896 to transport copper concentrates from Queenstown to export markets via Strahan’s port in Macquarie Harbour.

Amazing feats of engineering and the human spirit of the pioneers who built the railway are seen in lasting tributes along the journey, built one piece at a time by early engineers with local rocks, using barges on the river as their “scaffolding”.

The stories of the workers who lived along this railway are astounding. Up to 500 men built the original railway, the main section from Teepookana to Queenstown in 19 months, the final link from Teepookana to Strahan in 11 months – making the total time to construct this major feat just two-and-a-half years.

Looking out the back of the glassed in carriage you see the railway winding away behind you, lined by trees on either side – a reminder of the changes this community has seen since the mining years.

Watch the little steam loco make its preparations for taking you on the rack-and-pinion track up to Rinadeena and down into Queenstown. This railway technology is the only one of its kind in used Tasmania, invented by Dr Roman Abt from Switzerland.

By far the most amazing sight along the journey is King River Gorge, which plunges spectacularly from the railway tracks straight down to the river below. Huge native trees cling to the gorge’s sides like resolute soldiers – an indication of how those workers a century ago must have felt.