In view of some of the recent articles on the subject of the reopening of the West Coast Wilderness Railway and its importance to Strahan I believe there needs to be some clarification of the critical issues.

Wilderness Railway - West Coast

West Coast Wilderness Railway (photo by Dan Fellow)

Discover Strahan: Wilderness Railway, West Coast

by Mike Fry

The West Coast Wilderness Railway is an integral part of today’s West Coast tourism experience and the statement by Minister David O’Byrne of the 6th January start date is welcomed by the tourism industry. It is important that this date be adhered to so that both the railway and the tourism industry can formulate booking procedures to maximize passenger numbers in advance. This will also be a necessary function so that visitors to the west coast, and in fact Tasmania, can plan to include the railway journey as part of their Tasmanian holiday experience.

The anticipated morning departure schedule of 9.15am will allow visitors staying in Strahan and other west coast towns to enjoy the train journey en route to their next destination whether it is Derwent Bridge, Hobart, Cradle Mountain or beyond.

Depending on their length of stay the other activities such as cruises and scenic flights will fit into the normal pattern of holidaying as has been the trend during recent years; if numbers for the train journey warrant there could be an afternoon trip whereby visitors travelling to the west coast and indeed Strahan would be able to do a train trip en route.

However this can only be seen as a temporary measure and the completion of the railway journey to Strahan is essential if visitation and length of stay is to be maximized for all towns on the west coast along with employment and revenue for the local economy. We must also remember that the West Coast Wilderness Railway is an iconic railway experience and has received world acclaim and is also very much a part of what Tasmania as a state has to offer. Too much public money has been invested in this project to allow it to fail or be reduced to a portion of the real journey from Queenstown to Strahan. Some of the most iconic and picturesque scenery is between Dubbil Barril and Strahan along the King River Gorge.

Wilderness Railway - Queenstown

Orr Street, Queenstown (photo by Carol Haberle)

Phil Vickers and his team are to be commended in both the amount of work they have been able to achieve within the time frames and for the industry communication through West Coast Tourism keeping the industry and community informed. The tourism operators in Strahan look forward to greeting the train into Regatta Point later next year and until then we continue to work hard as an industry to provide the best tourism experience possible for visitors with our existing products and infrastructure.

Strahan’s Live Webcam and website will soon be complimented by the new ‘Strahan App’ launching in November so keep checking Discover Strahan for updates.

Wilderness Railway - Ormiston House

Ormiston House B&B (photo supplied)

There is much promotional material still out there on the internet and in brochures showing the railway as the iconic experience that it is operating between Strahan and Queenstown. We see no need to cancel or remove those images or material, instead we assure visitors that the track is being repaired and the West Coast Wilderness Railway will be back on line in the New Year; and that is exactly what will happen.

Wilderness Railway - West Coast, Tasmania

West Coast Wilderness Railway (photo by Dan Fellow)

Mike Fry represents tourism group Discover Strahan and Carolyn Nissen is the chairperson of Tasmania’s West Coast tourism organisation. Together they are owners and hosts of Ormiston House Bed and Breakfast accommodation in Strahan. Article (and photo as indicated) provided to Think Tasmania by Mike Fry.

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