Australia Off The Beaten Path Tips by DennyP
Australia Off The Beaten Path: 376 reviews and 475 photos
THE"GULFLANDER TRAIN" NORMANTON NTH
SMALL-UNIQUE OZ TRAIN TRIPS
Wherever I go whether it is here in OZ or abroard I always take the opportunity to take a local but different train journey. Here I can write about a few great little train journeys that I have taken here while travelling in OZ. Although most are OFF the beaten path they can be reached with not much troube.They are definately train trips that you would love also if you are a bit of a "train buff." Anyone can really enjoy these small train rides if you have the time and you are in their location.
STATE OF QUEENSLAND:
THE GULFLANDER Located in the "Gulf Country" of far north western Queensland in the Gulf of Carpentaria is a little town called Normanton . Here you will find a really unique rail experience and as the names suggests you will find the Gulflander train. The Gulflander is a "motorail train" and its history is interesting especially how the rail network was laid down to beat the monsoonal floods that hit the area annually. After a lot of contoversy over its route the line was finally finished in 1891.
Known locally as the" tin hare" this truly is a wonderful little train just so full of character as is the area.The train does its run from Normanton station to Croydon a distance of some 152 kilometers taking 5 hours.then returns the next day. The time I travelled on this train I returned the same afternoon by bus to Normanton. The journey is a pleasant one and the driver will stop the train for you if you see a photo opportunity.The train stops at some remote properties and delivers goods from town , one such stop entailed a set of new" branding irons" on my trip.This train has been in continuous operation since its inception in in 1891.. This for me was great train journey and one I would repeat if I got the chance.
Tickets available at the Normanton Railway Station or info at: www.traveltrain.com
BOOK IN ADVANCE
STATE OF QUEENSLAND
THE KURANDA SCENIC RAILWAY is a short journey but a really scenic one. The train leaves twice daily from Cairns Central Railway Station on what is a truly scenic one crossing many bridges and lovely picturesque waterfalls along its short route as it climbs 300 meters up the mountain and into the rainforrest. The Engine of the train is painted in bright colours and are classic aboriginal scenes of the "dream time" and the carriages are all kept in the old style of the original period.
Along its journey here is a talking documentary of building the train line and the incredible difficulties that the workers had with the heat , disease, and the weather in its construction. The short journey is just under 40 kilometers filled with constant photo opportunities along the way especially at a ten minute stop at the Hooker Falls. It is here the train stops enabling its passengers to enjoy the wonderful panorama of the falls especially in the wet season. The journey terminates in the rainforrest town of Kuranda and the coolness is so noticeable after the humidity of Cairns City.
Tickets available at Cairns Central or Information at: www.traveltrain.com
BOOK IN ADVANCE
STATE OF VICTORIA
THE PUFFIN BILLY Last time that I visited my friend in Melbourne I asked if we could fit in a ride on the "Puffin Billy". This was one of those really popular train trips that are great to do and one that I was eager to do...
As it was a really lovely day we drove to Belgrave township to where the little steam engine was located got in line and booked our tickets and as it was quite crowded we waited for our next train!!.The journey takes you from the township of Belgrave to Gembrook some 24 kilometers and to an altitude of 312 meters.( 1020ft.). Belgrave is 42 kilometers (26 miles) from Melbourne by train. (easy to get to).
I was really unaware that there were many small trains operating that sunday and luckily I got the steam engine out to and a diesel locomotive back.. A really enjoyable journey up through the huge forrests of the Dandenong Ranges.The journey takes you over wooden trestles and through lovely green fertile farmland stopping along the way for locals to board the train and disembark. The journey itself is through the most lovely countryside but Don't go on a Sunday or a school holiday!!! there were just so many youngsters on the open sided trains with legs hanging out ...I was really surprised that they were not told of the dangers or reprimanded by their near sighted parents.
The Puffin' Billy train network is run by a team of volunteers that admiringly maintain a few lovely small steam and deisel engines along with their old period open sided carriages. The train system constantly needs a huge amount of maintenance ,not only the engines and rolling stock but lines and bridges and also the wooden trestles.My trip was surely a great little trip. Their is a charge but the money goes towards the upkeep of the network.
GETS REALLY CROWDED BUT I BOOKED ON THE DAY...JUST HAD TO WAIT A WHILE!!
RUNS EVERYDAY EXCEPT CHRISTMAS DAY.
information at: www.puffingbilly.com.au phone (613) 9757 0700
Specially designed carriages for Disabled Passengers can be accomodated in wheel chairs.
STATE OF TASMANIA
THE DON RIVER RAILWAYLocated just outside Devenport in Tasmania is another of those great little railways that wouldn't be there if it wasn't for an army of volunteers. I was truly amazed at the size of the operation so many dedicated people here were running. The maintenance sheds are huge with a vast collection of mainly steam but also deisel and motorail stock...truly fantastic to just walk through the maintenance shed( with permission) and talk to the many workers changing huge engines and polishing brass etc. This particular bunch of railway enthusisast have over the years obtained the greatest collection of steam engines from 1879 to 1951 along with the best collection of railway carriages and rolling stock fro1864 to 1964 in all of Tasmania.. This is truly an amzing workshop to have a peek around.!!They are all only to glad to have a quick chat about the" trains in shop."
I had only come across this by chance as the railways across Tasmania have long been disbanded. The trains running that day depend on what they have available!..The day I visited there was a unique little motorail on the run painted in a pleasant red and cream livery this looked so well maintained..Although the trip was a short one of some 20 miles or so I was one of only a half a dozen passengers in my carriage. They stations are still also well maintained and have a post office and a gift shop with various souvenirs. I would love to return to this site again in the near future.This was amost enjoyable day here..
I booked my ticket at the station on the day..
Information at: www.donriverailway.com.au Phone (03) 6424 6335
Open from 10 am till 4.00 pm Everyday except Good Friday and Xmas Day
BACK AGAIN SOON.......... MORE TO WRITE YET AS IT BECOMES AVAILABLE.!!!
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