Tuesday, September 15, 2009

One of the top 10 railways in the world - the Abt Wilderness Railway

A legacy of the old mining methods on Tasmania’s west coast is the Abt railway which runs between Queenstown and Strahan on the west coast of Tasmania.
This 35 km railway incorporates a Rack and Pinion system to carry a train up some incredible rises.
The engines used today are the 100 year old Steam Locomotives that worked on the line built for the Mt Lyell Mining & Railway Company.
The full line opened in 1899 but ran into disrepair and closed in 1963.
After 37 years a group of enthusiasts decided to rebuild the line and after a massive restoration project the trains again steam through the wilderness forests.
While the rolling stock once hauled a fortune in pure copper, today’s heritage style carriages carry tourists.
With inclines as steep as 1 in 16, the engine uses a steam driven cogwheel which engages with the twin toothed rack rail which runs down the centre of the 3ft 6in gauge line. This rack and pinion system allows the engine to pull the train up the steep hills.
Along the journey are several stops including stations at Lynchford, where you try your hand at gold panning, Dubbil Barril with its own quaint history and Rinadeena where the railway reaches its highest point and the passengers disembark for lunch.

But it’s the line itself, originally cut through the wilderness by hand and its 42 mainly trestle bridges which provide spectacular views of the King River as it winds its way through steep gorges and valleys. The Abt tourist railway is ranked as one of the top 10 railway experiences in the world.

Pic: Rack and pinion system
Pic: Wooden railway bridges provide spectacular views
Pic: The Abt No 3 engine (pictured here is one of the original Mt Lyell engines and was fully restored in 2001. Today its steam is heated by diesel power instead of coal.

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