All aboard for Tassie!
STEP BACK IN TIME AND GO FULL STEAM AHEAD ON A JOURNEY FULL OF HISTORY AND THRILLS WITH A VISIT TO STUNNING Tasmania
For history buffs visiting the Apple Isle, a recommended first stop is Port Arthur, which draws 330,000 visitors a year. A private tour by local guide Colin Knight opened our eyes to its often grim past. Admission includes a harbour cruise and complimentary group tour at Port Arthur, so plan to spend a day here. There are nightly ghost tours (364 days a year) to the Parsonage house – just look out for ghosts! The Coal Mines
Historic Site, with its ruins and underground cells, and the
Female Factory are also well worth a look. The Female Factory is in South Hobart and tells the story of the lives of convict women. Bushwalking trails at the mines are a back-tonature experience – for free.
The drive west was four hours through rolling hills, rainforests and quaint villages ahead of our arrival at the former mining town of Queenstown, which now has a thriving art, culture
and tourism scene. We stayed at handy Mt Lyell Anchorage in a self-contained two-bedroom Waratah cottage. Recently named in the top 10 Tasmanian hotels, Mt Lyell Anchorage should be first on your list for accommodation in Queenstown. Owner Joy Chappell and partner Anthony also own Roam Wild adventure and mining
tours, and the Paragon Theatre, a renovated 1930s attraction.
Roam Wild has just added candlelight dining in a mine and an authentic mining experience. This is one of only three places in the world where you can prospect for your very own piece of crocoite. The Paragon Theatre operates outside the winter months as a cinema, restaurant and event venue.
After a restful sleep we set off on a big surprise for our boys: the Raft & Steam experience.
King River Rafting is run by bubbly husband-and-wife team Michele Cordwell-Steane and Paul Steane and was the highlight of our trip. On our half-day rafting adventure we
took on grade-three rapids, and also rock-climbed and drank in the incredible views of the west coast wilderness, before boarding a steam train back to Queenstown on the West Coast
Wilderness Railway. This Raft & Steam combo’s the only one of its type in the world.
Our rafting experience on the King River was epic! It was certainly a collaborative effort with eight people in our raft. The stillness allowing us to marvel at the beauty of the Tasmanian wilderness was offset by the rapids around every corner to keep the adrenalin pumping! It was like something out of an Indiana Jones movie!
Paddling into the Dubbil Barril train station, where Paul invited us to high-five our paddles, we were elated and wanted to come back and do it all again tomorrow! A quick change back into our dry clothes and then it was all aboard the Heritage carriage to Queenstown. Lunch was accompanied by Senior Steward Tom Pavik regaling us about the local history. The
wonderful theatrical re-enactment on board showcasing the corporate mining rivalry that existed between James Crotty, who discovered the riches in the west, and Bowes Kelly was an absolute delight!
The steam train features a unique rack-and-pinion system and boasts the steepest grades of track anywhere in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s the perfect way to experience the cool temperate rainforests and Huon Pines exclusive to Tasmania. Visit the museum at Queenstown station to learn more of the history of the railway and the beautiful locomotives imported all the way from Glasgow.
The railway was built was to bring copper from Queenstown to Strahan. Steam train driver Graham Hind, former head of Snowy Mountain Hydro and a foundation member of the Zig Zag railway in NSW’s Blue Mountains, was behind the wheel on the day. Riding up front and watching how the driver and fireman work together was fascinating. No wonder the West Coast Wilderness Railway took out the 2017 Tasmanian Tourism Award under the direction of general manager Anthony Brown. Running seven days a week from mid-September until April, it’s advisable to book early for the summer months. Such fun!
Visit the museum at Queenstown station
Take on the mighty King River! Ride the rapids on a raft!
The steam trains’s an absolute must
Historic Port Arthur