I had booked this trip before we had even arrived in Tasmania as I had heard only good reviews about it. I had only booked standard tourist seats but when we arrived a Queenstown Railway Station, after getting a bus from Strahan - a 3/4 trip with a interesting video about the railway history and a brief commentary by the driver - we decided to upgrade to the premier carriage and take advantage of some free drinks and additional free food along our trip. The tourist seat ticket holders only got a free lunch and drink at the nominated lunch stop.
Along the length of the trip we got free Tasmanian wines and beers, fruit juices and water. For food were started of with locally made chicken and clam pies, then it was lunch of at filled roll with ham salad and fruit and a juice and then it was a cheese platter to finish. There was something else between the pies and lunch but I can't remember what it was.
All this food was eaten as we chugged slowly through pristine wilderness, stopping at different stations along the way to get a look around and view different aspects of the way of life in the area and how the railway works.
The first stop was Lynchford where everyone could get of the train and have a go at panning for gold with the help from a guide. We didn't do this but they had a small display outlining gold digging in the area so we looked at this and walked around a bit. We went to the bridge that crossed the Queen River. The river runs a horrible brown colour here - apparently it is from the mining and it is a lot cleaner than it used to be, back in the day the water used to have the consistency of cement and you could throw a stone in the water and it would take a while to sink, they are slowly cleaning it up and it's a lot cleaner now.
The track is what is called ABT System - using a rack and pinion to negotiate the steep sections of track. They needed this as they had no way to haul the loads from the mine to the harbour and normal trains at the time were unable to deal with it - I'm not sure how it all works but the next sections of track utilised this method of travel along the track. It took a few minutes for the train to hook up the the system and then we were of again.
Next stop is Rinadeena Saddle where we sat down and had out lunch in the station cafe. After lunch we also wandered across a overhead pedestrian bridge for a look around. It is also here where we picked up a second Diesel engine - this engine was not to help the steam engine but the steam engine was to help it the Diesel engine manoeuvre over the steep ascent and descent.
The next stretch of track has some amassing scenery over the King River Gorge. It is here where the train follows the King River and the train stops one the bridges that overhang the gorge for people to take photos. Apparently back in the day the train used to stop here and let people of to go and have picnics down by the water. - it was a long way down and very steep, it would have been a fair hike for them.
Next stop was Dubbil Barril where we could get of the train again. At this stop they detached the steam engine. It was here that they demonstrated the used the the turn table that is used to turn engines around and change the direction of the train. Apparently it is in this area some farmer thought he could set up a sheep farm - it didn't last long as the area is not suitable.
We then continued on with the Diesel engine only as it steep sections were over with. The last station we stopped at was called Lower Landing but it was only a brief stop so nobody got off. The last section of the track following Lower Landing followed the King River and the harbour to Regatta Point, Strahan which was the end of the track.
Wow, what a great day, great trip a real hoot.
We walked back to town and then to our accommodation via a waterside pathway the whole length of the way. Most of the people got a bus back - the walk didn't take too long, about 1/2 hour most depending on where you stopped to have a look.