At Trusted Travel we love trains. If you’re anything like us, you’ll be all aboard for a steam or diesel-powered adventure!
Australia is fortunate enough to have some awesome heritage railway attractions so if you’re after the thrill of being hauled by the iron horse of yesteryear, these experiences are sure to leave you chuffed.
With the vastness of Australia allowing for endless long-distance experiences, we have limited this list to include some of the country’s most iconic rail adventures that can be experienced in just one day or less.
1. West Coast Wilderness Railway, Strahan TAS
Carving its way through the remote temperate rainforests of Western Tasmania, the West Coast Wilderness Railway is an experience not to be missed.
Best done as a full day tour, half-day options are also available from both Queenstown or Strahan. If you’re short on time we highly recommend the Rack and Gorge half-day from the Queenstown end. Unlike the River and Rainforest tour from Strahan, this half-day is on board a heritage steam locomotive and includes the spectacular King River Gorge and the unique rack and pinion system which allows the train to climb one of the steepest sections of track in the southern hemisphere.
Trusted Travel plan to ride the West Coast Wilderness Railway on our upcoming week-long trip to Tasmania. View the full itinerary here.
2. Thirlmere to Buxton, NSW Rail Museum, Thirlmere NSW
The NSW Rail Heritage Museum at Thirlmere is a Trusted Travel favourite. It is home to Australia’s largest collection of rolling stock including engine 3801, the undisputed King of Australia’s steam locomotives.
The 45-minute return journey to Buxton is the perfect sampler for those looking to dip their toe into the world of steam-powered locomotion. During school holidays they also run trips to Picton on restored heritage rail motors.
In exciting news, funding has recently been allocated to refurbish a further section of the old loop-line allowing heritage trains to pass through the Big Hill cutting, formerly Australia’s deepest, on their way up the hill to Colo Vale.
There isn’t currently a Trusted Travel trip planned to Thirlmere but keep checking in because trains are always on the Trusted Travel radar.
Read the travel diary from our last trip here.
3. Kuranda Scenic Railway, Cairns QLD
Nestled high in the hinterland and surrounded by World Heritage listed rainforest, the bohemian enclave of Kuranda has long been seen as an escape from the sweltering heat of the tropics.
Powered by a diesel locomotive, this scenic railway rises 327 metres as is meanders through lush forests, across spectacular bridges and takes in the raw energy of waterfalls all around.
Trusted Travel plan to ride the Kuranda Scenic Railway on our upcoming trip to North Queensland. View the full itinerary here.
4. The Pichi Richi Railway, Quorn SA
Following the southern end of the original Ghan track alignment, the Pichi Richi railway from Port Augusta to Quorn is a quintessentially Australian experience. The track twists and turns its way through the spectacular Flinders Ranges, taking in the remarkable colours of the outback as it goes.
Originally built in 1878, this section of track now serves tourist trains on most weekends with the experience claiming the South Australian Tourism Award for best attraction in 2021.
Trusted Travel has never been to the Flinders Ranges and there is no trip currently planned. We are always looking for amazing new experiences to bring our travelling friends. Maybe one of these days we will find ourselves riding the Pichi Richi Railway!
5. The Puffing Billy, Belgrave VIC
Victoria’s most iconic steam rail experience is a surviving relic of the railway network that served rural and regional Victoria in the early 1900s. The full-day experience from Belgrave to Gembrook is recommended to capture the full essence of the line as it winds its way through the magnificent Dandenong Ranges.
The trains themselves are powered by one of a half-dozen NA class, narrow gauge steam engines with a wide range of open and closed carriage options.
When Trusted Travel toured the historical sights of Melbourne in November 2019, the Puffing Billy was the highlight of the trip. Read the travel diary here.
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