West Coast Wilderness Railway

The next part of my epic Tasmanian adventure takes place in Queenstown, on the West Coast Wilderness Railway. The disused industrial rail line is 35km long and was originally used for mining in the area, but the original steam locomotives still run today as a tourist attraction.

Naturally we are booked on the more adventurous “Raft and Steam” option, where we whitewater raft down the King River and then jump on the train for the trip back. We arrive at the station where we gear up for rafting, leave our dry clothes for the return trip, then get dropped out at the rafting start point, except there is just one problem. No water.

We had seen on our short bushwalk the previous day how the King River was raging and were quite excited for this part of the adventure, however since then the flow had stopped completely and the water level was far too low to raft. The King River flow is controlled by the power generation of Hydro Tasmania which the rafting company has a deal with in order to maintain their operation.

Unfortunately there had been a mechanical failure overnight and after a few false starts this morning, it seems water could not be guaranteed. Thankfully the rafting company and West Coast Railway were fantastic about this and managed to drive us up the line and get us on the train a few stops late so we could at least enjoy half the experience!

Once aboard the train we had a wonderful journey full of history and personal stories from yesteryear. The view was beautiful, travelling into and out of the rainforest around steep cliffs and tight corners. We know we made the right decision not to wait for the rafting when we see down the valley to the King River and it is still rock and dirt rather than water and rapids.

At the end of the line “Double Barril” station, we watch the locomotive engine manually turned around by the 2 operators, and enjoy a short rainforest walk to take in the area.

Although the day is a bit less adrenaline filled than we had hoped for, it was still a fantastic trip and in all honesty- a much needed rest day.