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Winter Woes? Not for the West Coast Wilderness Railway

May 13, 2017 Rail No Comments Email Email

The widely celebrated Australian summer might be over for another year but that doesn’t mean the heat is off in terms of activities available.  In fact on the West Coast of Tasmania things are just warming up with 120th anniversary celebrations, museum re-openings, new timetable announcements and news of the West Coast Wilderness Railway’s mid-year Christmas festivities.

To embrace the start of winter, the West Coast Wilderness Railway will be hosting a celebratory function on May 18, which will mark both the 120th anniversary of the Mount Lyell Railway and the re-opening of the WCWR Museum.

Locomotive #1, an engine built in Glasgow but assembled in Strahan, took to the tracks for its inaugural run on 21st December 1896 to deliver copper from the Mt Lyell mine in Queenstown to the harbour in Strahan. The official opening of the railway happened a few months later in March 1897.  Locomotive #1, along with Loco #3 (118 years old) and Loco #5, (considered a baby at 79 years of age) still steam along the tracks today offering passengers stunning views of the harbour, river and lush thick rainforests on the west coast.

West Coast Wilderness Railway General Manager, Anthony Brown said “The Railway and its history are truly awe-inspiring and it is one of the key attractions for tourists coming to the area.  It is a privilege to watch Locomotive #1 still in service 120 years on and we are looking forward to marking the official opening of the railway with an event on May 18”.

The event will also celebrate the re-opening of the WCWR Museum, which is a combination of interpretive storyboards and selected railway artefacts to showcase the wonderful history of railway and the region.

Celebrations will continue over the winter period with special ‘Christmas in July’ departures welcoming guests aboard for a half day train journey with piping hot mulled wine, a festive themed menu, merry decorations and gifts on board for children.  Prices start from $95 for children and $165 for adults.

Brown added, “The winter months are a stunning time to visit the West Coast of Tasmania and last year we experienced a spike in travellers embracing the cooler climate and making the most of our stunningly beautiful remote wilderness. We’re looking forward to another great winter and celebrating Christmas in July with our passengers”.

On the new autumn/winter schedule Rack and Gorge Journeys will depart Queenstown every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday and will showcase the beauty of the King River Gorge and stunning rainforest as the railway climbs the steepest railway gradients in Australia using the rack and pinion system for which it is renowned.

The River and Rainforest Steaming Winter Journey offers a change in scenery and departs Strahan every Monday, Wednesday and Fridayproviding stunning views of the harbour before snaking along the river and heading inland through thick rainforest.

On both trips, guests can sit back and enjoy vistas of the surrounding wilderness as they traverse numerous bridges and enjoy spectacular views of the majestic King River, while listening to enlightening commentary about the region’s rich and colourful history and hearing the comforting sounds of old steam engines.

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