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All aboard for a tour of Australia’s rail history

All aboard for a tour of Australia’s rail history

Jump aboard to see just how closely rail development has ridden alongside the development of the country.

The Ida Bay Railway, Tasmania

The Ida Bay Railway in Tasmania was opened in the early 20th century for the purpose of transporting resources long distances and to trading ports. The Ida Bay Railway was originally used to carry limestone from quarries west of the Lune River to ships waiting south of Ida Bay. Visitors can embark on a two-hour return trip along the 7.3-kilometre track in an open-air or closed carriage, or a one-way trip and camp overnight. The train stops at a historic graveyard – almost all that remains of a once bustling town – where an expert guide provides a history dating back to the convict era.

National Railway Museum, South Australia

This Port Adelaide museum is Australia’s largest railway museum, and was built to preserve the trains that connected people across vast distances. Explore carriages and learn about women in railways, signalling, the Overland Express journey from Melbourne to Adelaide, the history of South Australian railways during World War I and World War II, and the difficulties of using three different gauge systems.

Puffing Billy Railway, Victoria

At the foot of Victoria’s Mount Dandenong, this is one of four experimental lines that were constructed during the early 1900s to provide access to remote areas. Puffing Billy still operates today, and to see and hear the antique steam train as it appears from behind the trees is like stepping into the pages of a children’s book. The railway is run predominantly by volunteers (more than 900 of them!), many of whom are rail enthusiasts and ex-rail industry staff.

Victorian Goldfields Railway, Victoria

This authentic heritage steam train was an important link between the historic gold mining towns of Castlemaine and Maldon. Today, you don’t have to be a gold prospector to ride with the driver on the footplate, and you can even drive the train yourself – no experience required! You can also choose to travel in a stylish first-class Edwardian carriage, or wine and dine on the observation deck, where you’ll feel as though you’re travelling back in time, or into an Agatha Christie novel.

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