The Ida Bay Railway is original. Of the hundreds of miles of narrow gauge bush tramways built in Tasmania the Ida Bay Railway is the only original railway in existence. There are relics of the limestone carrying days in the form of wagons and machinery. Several of the passenger carriages are built on bogie flat wagons built in the 1890s; some of the earliest bogie wagons in Australia.
All Aboard: Ida Bay Railway
by Allegra Biggs Dale and Meg Thornton
The company livery is red and the line is over 7kms long, so please allow two hours for the return trip. From Lune River you will travel through light bush to the shores of Ida Bay. The line passes through the site of the original town of Ida Bay past the wharf and grave yard that is all that remains of a once thriving area. Soon after reaching the shores of the Lune River estuary and for a mile or so the scenic views across the waterways are superb.
Travel past the bush site of Jagers Sawmill and Jetty through bush that lines either side of the track. The line terminates at Deep Hole Bay, a large white swimming beach accessible only by rail. The beach is nearly a mile long and very secluded. From Deep Hole there are marked bush walking tracks to King George III monument where a convict ship sank with a huge loss of life.
At the end of the line you can take advantage of the BBQ and picnic facilities. Bring your own lunch or have Meg’s Cafe cater for you. Ida Bay Railway cater for group functions and will provide lunch for you if you wish either at the station or at the beach, all arrangements made on a personal basis. Look out for the Twilight Tour during the holiday season and enjoy Tasmania’s starry nights.
Enjoy the 14km round trip from Lune River station travel through bush land abundant with bird life and wild flowers. Cross buttongrass plains and travel along the banks of Ida Bay and Lune River Estuary. The scenic water views are superb. There are marked bush walking tracks to Southport Lagoon and Southport Bluff. Near Southport Bluff is the King George III monument which commemorates the 134 lives lost in the sinking of the convict ship, King George III in 1835.
Deep Hole to Southport Lagoon
Southport Lagoon is accessible by a 50 minute walk from the end of the Ida Bay Railway line at Deep Hole. The walk is over reasonable terrain and allows the walker to enjoy the peace and serenity of Southport Lagoon. Many walkers catch a train in to the Deep Hole and complete the walk to Southport Lagoon. Alternatively some walkers stay at the lagoon and catch the last train for the day from Deep Hole to return to the station.
Campers can also do the walk and elect to camp at Southport Lagoon for one or two nights returning to Deep Hole and catching the train back to the station. Return trips on the train need to be negotiated with the railway’s running timetable.
The Friends of Ida Bay Historical Society Inc. was formed in September 2009 for the purpose of preserving and recording the history of Ida Bay Railway, Southport, Hastings, Lune River, Ida Bay, Recherche Bay and Cockle Creek from 1792 to the present.
Ida Bay Railway Summer Timetable
Open every day except Friday, and the trip schedule at time of publishing: 9:30am, 11:30am, 1:30pm and 3:30pm. Phone 03 6298 3110 (0428 383 262) to confirm or contact Ida Bay Railway for more information.
There are other things to do in the area to extend your visit. You could also incorporate a trip to Hastings Caves and Thermal Springs and/or the Tahune Airwalk near Geeveston in the Huon Valley; all part of the southern tourism region of Tasmania.
Allegra Biggs Dale is the co-owner of Labillardiere Estate on Bruny Island. Her book called “Orchids of Bruny Island” includes her stunning photography. Meg Thornton is the operator of Ida Bay Railway.