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While there are no regular passenger train services, historic railway rides and train adventures criss-cross Tasmania.

A network of railways once covered the island, linking towns and isolated villages as well as the state's mining and industrial centres through often rugged terrain. 

Travellers can still take scenic rides through Tasmania's wilderness and into cities and towns full of history on a number of unique railway experiences.

The West Coast Wilderness Railway offers half and full-day steam and heritage diesel experiences along a 35km track between Queenstown and Strahan. It was no easy feat building this railway. In the 1890s workers used picks and shovels to build the steepest section of railway in the Southern Hemisphere. Hear their stories while travelling through rainforest and traversing the deep chasm of the King River Gorge. 

For a shorter introduction to the region’s rail history, a visit to the Don River Railway in Devonport offers scenic rides in vintage rail cars beside the tranquil river to Coles Beach. This line was originally built in 1862 for transporting timber and to service a small coal mine.

Don River Railway
Don River Railway
Tourism Australia & Graham Freeman
Don River Railway
Don River Railway
Tourism Australia & Graham Freeman

The Redwater Creek Steam Railway in Sheffield runs once a month and offers an insight into the steam-powered machinery used to build the region. Take a ride on the 1906 Krauss loco and soak in the scenery. Sheffield also hosts the annual three-day SteamFest in March, one of the biggest displays of working steam machinery in Australia.

Redwater Creek Railway
Redwater Creek Railway
Tourism Tasmania & Supplied Courtesy of Kentish Council

Launch into an adventure through the forest in southern Tasmania on a Railtrack Rider. These four-wheeled, lightweight vehicles are powered by foot pedals, a fun family activity. Pause and enjoy the scenery while travelling along several kilometres of a non-operational railway track through the Derwent Valley.

In Launceston, the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery (QVMAG) features preserved original locomotive workshops that tell the stories of rail workers and their machines.

QVMAG at Inveresk
QVMAG at Inveresk
Tourism Tasmania & Rob Burnett

Nearby, the Launceston Tramways Museum is a must for train lovers and history buffs. The museum features a workshop, a large modern display gallery and a short 1940s tram ride accompanied by the sounds and voices of the past. Check out Launceston’s oldest surviving movie footage and see how the city was changed by the introduction of trams.

In Hobart, the Tasmanian Transport Museum has a large collection of restored railway locomotives, carriages, trams and artefacts, including the only double-decker tram to survive from the late 1940s. 

A 20min drive south of Hobart is the Margate Train. Formerly known as the Tasman Limited, it ran a passenger service between Hobart and Launceston until 1978. The train has been turned into a series of specialty shops, including outlets selling antiques, bric-a-brac, lollies and a pancake cafe. 

These railway journeys tell some of Australia's remarkable rail stories and are great fun for families and train spotters alike.

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