ABT Railway & Empire Hotel Queenstown

by Roger Findlay

Editor’s Note: the ABT Railway that Roger writes about here is now known as the West Coast Wildnerness Railway.

ABT Railway, Tasmania

As a boy growing up in England, I spent most of my spare time trainspotting. When I was a teenager my favourite steam locomotives were being rapidly replaced by diesel and electric locomotives. With this, the magical attraction faded.

The ABT Railway had just been restored when we booked our trip to Tasmania. We were staying in Strahan, on the west coast, and went by coach along a road with many bends, to join the train at Queenstown Station. On seeing the small, green polished locomotive my heart started racing. It reminded me of old times. Even the smell of the belching smoke was a turn on!

We took our seats in a beautifully restored timber lined carriage and moments later the train was pulling out of the station past the deserted streets of Queenstown into the western wilderness region.

After a short run up to Lynchford we disembarked for optional gold panning and a visit to a closed mine shaft. During this time the driver and fireman nursed the engine by making sure that it was ready for the 1 in 20 climb with the unique pinion arrangement engaged on the track mounted pinion.

Read about how an ABT Railway system cog steam locomotive works.

ABT Railway - West Coast Wilderness Railway
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest

ABT Railway: now West Coast Wilderness Railway

The ride up to Dubbil Barril was the best part of the trip. We were told to keep our heads inside the train as we passed through magnificent stands of trees, gorges and over flimsy wooden bridges. In this rainforest climate, the water continually dripped from the canopy above and it was hard to decipher the engine smoke from the mist through which we passed.

At Dubbil Barril station there was so much to see and do in a short time. There was an easy forest walk, bridge, packed lunch (provided) and the complexity of changing the direction of the ABT Railway steam locomotive on a man powered turntable.

ABT Railway - Steam Locomotive
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest

All aboard the ABT Railway: Queenstown Tasmania

For the rest of the journey, our locomotive was diesel powered and far less exciting for the rail enthusiast. The scenery changed on the approach to Strahan with ore stained rivers, creeks and even the remains of a collapsed bridge near Teepookana.

On leaving the train at Regatta Point in Strahan, I had already decided to revisit my steam powered friend at Queenstown Station.

Empire Hotel Queenstown

The historic Empire Hotel is the most prominent building in the heart of Queenstown. It is situated across the road from the railway station and I found it ideal for pursuing my passion.

ABT Railway - Empire Hotel Queenstown
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest

Empire Hotel Queenstown: opposite ABT Railway

The hotel is an outstanding building with the many guest rooms reminding me of the boom times associated with mining. It has recently had a makeover and we found the rooms to be basic, clean and comfortable for a short stay. The dining room has an extensive menu of reasonably priced pub food and the beer is the best in the west!

Just inside the entrance of the Empire Hotel, there is a magnificent Blackwood staircase that was crafted in England before being shipped back to Queenstown. Our room was at the top of these stairs and we felt like royalty coming down the stairs for breakfast.

ABT Railway - Queenstown Empire Hotel
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest

Grand entrance: Empire Hotel, Queenstown Tasmania

The sight of smoke and steam from over the road reminded me of where I had to be. I was happy filming my new friend leaving the station with another group of Tasmanian tourists on an ABT Railway journey they would never forget.

If you like this article about Tasmania, and you’d like to read more, just subscribe to our newsletter or join us on social media via FacebookTwitterPinterest or Instagram. If you really like this article, and you want others to see it, you can choose one of the “share” options below. We’d love that!

Comments relevant to this article are always most welcome, just leave a reply below. But first… please confirm the date of this article. Have you found something current, or is this ancient information? Either way, thanks for your company and come back again soon.

Map of Queenstown Tasmania…

Loading
Center map
Traffic
Bicycling
Transit
Google MapsGet Directions