Kev and I recently travelled south to Maydena to experience the Top of the World Tour, a journey which took us to a tiny township located on the Gordon River Road, south west of New Norfolk.

Maydena - Mountains

Tiny township of Maydena (photo by Carol Haberle)

Maydena: Top of the World Tour

by Carol Haberle

The Adventure Forests – Top of the World Tour is a Forestry Tasmania initiative, our tour combining three superb adventures into one trip… the Maydena Railtrack Riders, the Styx Big Tree Reserve and the Eagles Eyrie. Our guide for the day was Sarah Lockyer, employee of Adventure Forests and Forestry Tasmania. We met up with Sarah at the Maydena Adventure Hub, then it was into the four wheel drive (a Subaru Forester today as we were having a personalised tour) for our journey to begin with the Maydena Railtrack Riders.

Maydena - Adventure Hub

Maydena Adventure Hub 4WD (photos by Carol Haberle)

Maydena: Rich in Forestry History

With a rich history steeped in forestry, Maydena, (aboriginal meaning ‘shadow’) lies in the shadows of both the Tyenna and Maydena Mountain Ranges in the Florentine Valley, and is the perfect location for such a venture. Developed around the 1900s, the region was then known as Fitzgerald, and was once home to four big timber mills, all were built close to the railway, and around these mills were the employees homes. The sawmilling era of this region was a growing one, and in turn the area grew also. Bushmen used crosscut saw and axe to fell timber and tractors dragged logs to sidings, where steam haulers winched logs on to rail trucks. Spur lines joined the main railway to Boyer.

Maydena was the main centre of supply and communication for the Adamsfield mine (a mining camp that soon became home to over 2,000 workers and yet was abandoned within 30 years of settlement), where fortunes were both made and lost in the search for osmiridium. The 1930s saw the end of the mining rush and then the disastrous bush fire of 1934 swept through the area. Sadly this bushfire resulted in the sawmills winding down their operations. In the late 1930s Australian Newsprint Mills Ltd became interested in the forest areas of the region for supply of timber for paper production, and intensive surveys were done. The railway line was then extended from Fitzgerald to Kallista, beyond Maydena, and forestry once more became the focus of the region as logs were transported along the railway lines to the Newsprint Mill in New Norfolk. In 1947 the present township of Maydena was built as a base for logging in the Florentine Valley. Today, trains no longer run on the 3′ 6″ gauge railway line, and the tiny township of Maydena in the 2011 Census had a population of 225 people.

Maydena - Historic Rail Hauler

Historic rail hauler: Maydena (photo by Carol Haberle)

Railtrack Riders (RTR): Maydena

The Railtrack Riders (RTR) at Maydena are believed to be a first in Australia, and provide people with an opportunity to travel along the old Maydena Rail Track past an historic old railway siding and into beautiful regrowth rainforest. This tourist initiative was developed by the Maydena Community Association. It was the vision of project co-ordinator Geoff Williams who researched similar undertakings in Connecticut in the US, from where he imported the wheels for these brilliant pedal powered vehicles. Safety and Standards saw Geoff working with the Department of Industry, Energy and Resources and a railway expert was brought down from NSW. The frames were made, wheels, axles and modified disc brakes were fitted, independent suspension using modified recycled valve springs from car engines and seats were added (recycled from the chairs from Maydena Primary School). The result: four wheeled, lightweight vehicles powered by pedals… just like big billy carts designed to run on rails and completely safe.

Maydena - Railtrack Rider

Railtrack Riders (photos by Carol Haberle)

Physical Workout. Or Not.

Upon arrival at RTR Sarah, our guide, presented us with a Railtrack Riders Licence. Geoff Williams, Operations Manager at RTR along with employee Max, then took us through a short induction along with the other riders, consisting of do’s and don’ts along with general safety procedures. The railtrack riders are designed to hold either two people or four, only one rider has control of the brake. Once seated we were ‘sized up’ re body length for comfort of pedalling, adjustments made if necessary, and then we were off… pedalling our way on a beautiful 2.4km journey through the natural beauty alongside the old disused rail track between Maydena and the Florentine Valley station. Here I must make apologies to Sarah for not pulling my weight! With the benefits of two per railtrack rider, I got to put my feet up and truly enjoy the journey!

A journey through the beauty of forests, past old relics left from the historical past, all telling the story of this region’s history. Once we reached Florentine Station, the end of the line, it was off the railtrack riders for a beautiful wander through the forest followed, a forest holding a secret, the aim to find it! Here at the Florentine Station one also gets to view photographic displays of the early years, and old memorabilia of the early forestry days, and then it’s back on the railtrack riders for the return journey, another 2.4kms of pedalling. Although providing the bonus of a physical workout, one does not have to fear being unfit. Here at RTR a rail tractor also follows to provide a push whenever necessary, certainly appreciated on the uphill sections, as my lone pedalling partner on the ride will testify to.

Sight a Tasmanian Tiger!

Extinct or not? This is a question many ponder when talking about the Tasmanian Tiger (Thylacine), which was known to frequent the forests within the Florentine Valley region. Hunters and snarers trapped many Tasmanian Tigers in this region, supplying them mainly to the Hobart Zoo. Legend has it that the last Tasmanian Tiger trapped in the wild was trapped in the Florentine Valley. Today, stories of sightings in this region right up until recent times abound, and who knows, maybe if you take this adventure, you may well sight this elusive creature.

The RTR is truly a unique tourism experience. Suited to everyone: individuals, couples and families, (riders have included people aged up to 90+ years of age!), a journey of fun is guaranteed. Here begins an adventure in an historic area, an area with a unique forest industry heritage, where one learns of the history and can see for oneself that the true beauty of our forests is carefully protected using sustainable practices by Tasmanian Forestry workers, and the history is being retained here in Maydena for our future generations to learn from and enjoy.

Maydena - Forest Walks

Maydena: beautiful regrowth forest walks (photos by Carol Haberle)

The Railtrack Riders are included in The Top of the World Tour, or can be booked as an individual attraction while visiting the Maydena region. The Railtrack Riders operate four trips daily all year round, departure times are 11.15am, 1.00pm, 2.30pm and 4.00pm. To enjoy the Railtrack Riders only, bookings can be made by phoning mobile: 0427 206 864 (Geoff Williams) or to book as part of the complete Adventure Forests – Top of the World package visit their website.

Maydena - Railtrack Rider RTR

Railtrack rider journey: Maydena (photo by Carol Haberle)

Carol and Kevin Haberle were guests of Adventure Forests (Forestry Tasmania) on behalf of Think Tasmania.

All photos strictly ©Carol Haberle, H&H Photography. You can follow Carol on Facebook at Haberle Photo Cards. Carol writes feature articles for this website about all things Tasmanian. If you’d like Carol to visit you, please contact Think Tasmania.

Map: Railtrack Riders, Maydena Tasmania

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