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I’d heard about it from time to time. It was happening; funding was woefully short; it was in limbo; it was a must see. All this of course referred to the Abt Railway that runs between Queenstown and Strachan. All the statements were true. The initial government Bi-Centenary funding of 20 million was about 13 million short and it took a long time to get the extra and for the project to get finalized.
To say that some of the world’s most amazing railways were built in Australia isn’t an understatement. That this piece of track was even considered is incredible though it’s only 34 kilometres long. Until you actually ride the thing you can’t get a handle on just how hard it was to build. Over 500 kilometres of bush trails were blazed just to find the route! Why they didn’t use Google earth I’ll never know.
Just clearing the way they had to hack through scrub as dense as any you’ll ever see. Primaeval forest never touched by man and so thick you could scarcely see 10 metres into it was cleared at around 100 metres a day. Every engineer, and there were many, who said it couldn’t be done was sacked. The motto was “Labor Omnia Vincit”; “we find a way or make it”. They built it in 2 ½ years, it took nearly twice that to restore the Abt to modern standards after it lay abandoned for thirty years.
I always assumed, along with most others so I was informed, that Abt was an acronym but it was actually the name of the Swiss engineer who designed the world’s most popular rack railway – the type you need to get a train up steep gradients and this railway is steep. The latest incarnation is the ski-tube at Thredbo.
On our way from Strachan our fully restored steam engine hauled us up a one in sixteen hill. On the way down to Queenstown it’s one in twelve, the steepest gradient in the southern hemisphere. To add to the train’s difficulties, we had a female driver.
Updated Feb 22, 2011
I found this walk in a 'Great Short Walks' of Tasmania brochure that I sent off for. You can also download it from the website below. It proved to be very helpful as we travelled around Tasmania. This walk was a very nice one and a great thing to do if you are in Strahan for a day or two.
If you start from the carpark, this walk should take about 45 minutes return. It is a very easy walk along a level track next to a scenic stream and then at the end you get to see this lovely waterfall!
Updated Sep 26, 2005
Address: People's Park
I found the World Heritage Cruises to be a good deal, so we booked this for our full day in Strahan. There were a couple of options for cruises... the express morning didn't look like the best deal ... the full cruise could either be taken at 9am or 2pm, so we chose the 9am-3pm cruise. This cruise was $65 for adults, $25 for kids 5-14 or free for under 5. A buffet lunch cost an extra $15 or you could bring your own lunch. We went ahead with the buffet and it was very good.
The cruise took us first out to Hell's Gates, the narrow entry to Macquarie Harbour. We then cruised back in the harbour to Sarah Island where we stopped for a guided tour around the ruins of the island (or you could wander on your own), but the tour guide was very interesting. We then cruised on in to the end of the harbour and in to Gordon River. Along the river we stopped at Heritage Landing where we took a nature walk and had a little nature talk. Overall, it was a very relaxing and pleasant cruise. A cruise is definitely one of the highlights in Strahan!
Updated Sep 25, 2005
Address: The Esplanade
Phone: +61 3 6471 7174
Turn right after hitting the harbour and you leave the main activity centre. I was searching for the Post Office and was rewarded instead with a rather lonely stretch of gravel path that lead me to a rickety wooden pier with a solitary fisherman trying his luck out in this lovely spot. Good spot for photography especially during dusk!
Written Jul 15, 2005
Technically not a hill, but more of a crest. There is a flight of stairs behind the Hilltop Motor Inn and you could do a quick climb up to the top to catch a panorama of Strahan's beautiful harbourfront and the Esplanade. Along the way, there are plenty of holly shrubs adorning the steps. At the top of the stairs are the harbourview deluxe rooms of the Inn, so no trespassing is allowed beyond the gates.
Written Jul 15, 2005
You cannot escape its presence. It's just 10-15 minutes downhill from town and you will find all the hotels, restaurants & delis, adventure tours companies, souvenir shops & photo developing shops all hugging each other along this little stretch of road. There is a little park here where you can take a seat, zone out and watch the world go by. Or you can take a stroll along the pier and go ship-gazing.
Be-warned: Seagulls will be your constant companions so watch out for guano!
Written Jul 15, 2005
People's Park is about a 20 minutes walk from the harbour and is just opposite Risdon Cove. Lovely place to be if the weather is kind enough. (The weather at Strahan emotes) Take a stroll through nature, with the air thick with the smell of flora and hear the rustle of leaves under your feet! (Try: Hunting for the Sassafras Tree while you're here)
About 15 minutes walk into People's Park and you will come upon the tumbling waters of Hogarth Falls. Not the world's biggest water tumblers but it's a spot made from great photography!
Updated Jul 15, 2005
Honestly, I wonder the boats actually belong to anybody! Anyone who has remotely heard of Strahan must have seen the many postcards featuring Risdon Cove. It's a spot photographed to death - day in day out, the same boats. Don't get me wrong, it's a great place to hike to/take a walk from the harbour and it is really peaceful here, standing on the bridge and overlooking the waters back at the harbour.
Written Jul 15, 2005
OK, truth be told. There aren't a lot of things you can do here! Was here with a mate and we spent one good evening walking around town and looking at the houses of the folks staying at this far corner of Tasmania. Some of these houses are quite beautiful and stately, with lovely gardens. We were surmissing how long it will take us to work to get a house of the same type back home!
Updated Jul 14, 2005
From Strahan town centre it is a small walk to the Peoples Park, a very green, tropical forest with waterfalls (Hogarth Falls) and exciting nature! If you like to explore, go for it!
Written Aug 14, 2006