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. Known as the West Coast Wilderness Railway (5hr; previously from $111), the line was a popular trip from Strahan – on our last visit its former operator had been sold and the line had been taken into government hands as new bidders were sought. It was due to reopen in December 2013. Contact the West Coast Visitor Centre in Strahan for the latest.
Previously, it ran 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 before they arrived in Queenstown in a reconstructed station opposite the Empire Hotel. From here, most returned by bus, while new passengers embarked at Queenstown for the return. Either way, each trip divided between steam and diesel trains, with the changeover at a reconstructed mine settlement in the rainforest. If the trains are running again, try to secure a riverside seat; when facing forward, sit on the right-hand side from Strahan, or left from Queensland.