In 2002 a $30-million investment saw trains once again rattle along the old Abt Railway between Queenstown and Strahan. The original railway was completed in 1896 to transport copper ore from Queenstown to Regatta Point in Strahan, but closed in 1963, when road transport became more economical. Reconstruction took three years, only six months less than it took the original workers to hack through the rainforest by hand, two of the line’s four surviving steam locomotives were restored and replica carriages were built using native woods. Today, the West Coast Wilderness Railway runs twice daily, with most visitors embarking at Strahan, then swinging through the King River valley and climbing up to Dubbil Barril on a 1:16 rack-and-pinion track system (invented by Swiss engineer Dr Roman Abt) before they arrive in Queenstown in a reconstructed station opposite the Empire Hotel. While services in both directions stop at Dubbil Barril, trains from Queenstown call at the reconstructed historic settlement of Lynchford to try gold-panning. Each trip divides between steam and diesel trains, with one leg made by coach. Either way, try to secure a riverside seat; when facing forward, sit on the right-hand side from Strahan, or left from Queensland.
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