West Coast Wilderness Railway, Tasmania
Mt Lyell Mining and Railway Company
Opened its rail to Strahan from Queenstown
On March eighteen, eighteen ninety-seven.
Trains ran until the railway was shut down
In nineteen sixty-three, after sixty-six
Years of service, between those West Coast towns.
“We find a way, or make it!”, was the call
That inspired the General Manager’s men
To find ways of building the railway
As obstacles were encountered, back then.
They found a way, a tribute to their skill,
Perseverance, and certain acumen.
The railway was built over rugged terrain
Beside steep gorges, over ridges to ride,
With gradients up to one in sixteen
That the new Abt engines took in their stride,
Using a centre mount rack and pinion,
Up the steep slope and over the divide.
Hall’s Creek, Rinadeena, Dubbil Barril,
And Teepookana were the rhythmic names,
Of stations, on the railway to Strahan.
But nothing would remain, when the time came
To close the line, to lift the rails, and leave
The rail formation for bush to reclaim!
In nineteen seventy-two we followed
The formation in an old Land Rover.
We could only imagine what had been,
For the days of rail, had long been over.
Hewn by man alone, it was amazing
To traverse, with so much to discover!
An entrepreneur had envisioned that
The rail could be restored and run again,
Faithfully rebuilt since two thousand and two
Passengers and crew could once more entrain.
A fantastic experience provided
For those who rode the new, refurbished train.
We picked up our tickets and rode the rail,
In January of twenty nineteen,
An all-day trip from Strahan to Queenstown,
Stopping at all the stations in between.
A Heritage engine and carriages,
Steaming through wilderness, not often seen.
The Kraus steam engine, lovingly restored,
Bought by Mt Lyell Mining and Railway
Company in eighteen ninety-six was to
Pull the heritage carriages that day.
It waited, hissing steam, at the station,
Impatient to leave, to begin, be under way.
The Heritage Carriage, the perfect choice,
With our food and drinks always on demand.
The commentary, frequent and lively,
Did much to help us know and understand
Why this railway was built by river gorge,
And through such wild, steep, unforgiving land!
Past fern laden gullies with mountain streams,
Through deep stone cuttings, – millimetres to spare,
Beside the mighty King River Gorge
With its water rushing below us there,
We discovered a truly wonderous land
With many attributes for us to share.
We ate our lunch in Queenstown, – rested there,
Before we took our seats upon the train,
To begin the journey back to Strahan,
Past all the stations seen before, – again;
An adventure set in a previous time,
When the only travel was on the train.