Tasmania is full of heritage sites and historic wonders from the past. If you like old steam-driven machinery and steam trains Tasmania, there are many places you can visit close to Glencoe Country B&B.
Like much of Tasmania, this area had both timber and mining industries. The first tramway was built in 1854 to take lumber and coal to the wharf on the Don River. By 1879 the Tramway made it to Barrington. But although there was a portable steam engine working on the railway, in 1884 the line was worked entirely by horses.
Timber supplies diminished and by the late 1880’s the tramway was abandoned. The Don River would probably never have seen another railway if Broken Hill Proprietary had not started mining a large limestone deposit up the valley.
Settlers further up the valley successfully had the line extended to Melrose, Paloona, Barrington and to Devonport. Train traffic from the quarries far exceeded expectations, however, passenger and general goods traffic was very light.
The line didn’t make it as far as Sheffield, but a shorter line did go to Railton. However, at sometime between 1914 and 1957 a branch line from Railton linked to Sheffield.
During the great depression limestone traffic declined and by 1947 BHP had stopped taking limestone altogether. The line stayed open for local traffic in agricultural lime but by 1963 the line was completed closed, and lot of the tracks were lifted up. 3.5km of line back to Don Junction was left in place but became increasingly overgrown and derelict.
Don River Railway is a not-for-profit organisation owned and operated by members and volunteers and was established at Don in 1973 while the trains commenced operating in November 1976. Their achievements are the result of thousands of hours of voluntary labour provided by members.
Their aim was to preserve and present Tasmania’s railway history for everyone to enjoy. Over the years, their restoration teams at both Inveresk and Don have put in countless hours restoring locomotives and rolling stock.
You will be amazed at the before photos of the restored trains and carriages. You can take a train trip which travels on the eastern bank of the The Don River to the junction in Coles Beach. On your return, spend some time and visit the museum and workshop.
The heritage locomotives and carriages are on display throughout the grounds and workshop. Don is only 25 mins from Glencoe Country Guesthouse near Devonport.
Redwater Creek Steam and Heritage Society operates steam train rides at the Sheffield Steam and Heritage Centre in Sheffield every month on the first full weekend. Experience steam trains Tasmania and rail travel from yesteryear from the original restored Sheffield railway station.
The society has built one kilometre of 610mm (2-foot) gauge track and restored over 1km of track at the Sheffield end of the branch line and operates a tourist heritage railway on the track. Its train is hauled by a 1906 Krauss 610mm gauge steam loco and consists of Tasmanian heritage coaches.
You can take a scenic two-kilometre ride on the fully operational steam train. A restored Krauss steam loco pulling rebuilt heritage carriages runs every half hour from 11am until 4pm on Saturday and Sunday.
While there, you can also take a look at the vintage machinery, as there is usually someone to take you through the shed and answer questions. There is a Model Railway open too – take the kids to watch the little trains go around the lovely layout the model club members have created.
Then the kids can ride on the miniature railway as well. After the train ride you can get a hot drink in the renovated Sheffield Station Coffee shop.
30 mins away is the Ulverstone Miniature Railway, you can enjoy a ride on the miniature railway, which features three separate gauges: 3 1/2”, 5” and 7 1/4” and three separate track layouts. Commencing at 10am to 4pm. Open to the public every 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month.
Take a look at Tasmania’s largest annual gathering of working steam equipment – SteamFest – if you are in the North West in March. The first SteamFest was held at Sheffield in 1994 and it has been held every year since then on Tasmania’s March long weekend.
The weekend features extensive displays of vintage machinery, train rides, traction engines, steam rollers, vintage cars, farm tractors, tractor pulling competitions, demonstrations of farm practices from the steam era, such as; threshing, straw pressing, chaff cutting, wood cutting, stone crushing etc. and stationary engines, Bullock teams, craft displays, bands, entertainment and food stalls.
It really is all things steam engines and steam trains Tasmania.
2023 SteamFest will feature the largest collection of Steam Rollers ever seen in Tasmania with rollers coming from all over the State. If you like tractors, SteamFest is the place to be, as there will be a huge collection of Bulldog tractors on display from the past 100 years. There is a full wood chopping competition on the Monday.
If you are travelling to Launceston after staying at Glencoe, stop into Pearns Steam World at Westbury. The Pearn family agricultural contracting business operated for over 80 years in the Westbury district.
In the 1950s, the Pearn brothers realised that the introduction of new machinery and combustion engine tractors meant the passing of an era. So…they started collecting steam traction engines and machinery to save Tasmanian agricultural history for the future.
The collection dates back to the late 1800s and contains many items of State, national and international significance. In 2001 the Pearn Brothers donated their collection in trust to the local community.
The museum is run solely by volunteers with all profits returned for the restoration of the collection and ongoing improvements. Pearn’s Steam World collection comprises more than 200 major items – easily the largest collection in the southern hemisphere.
For more of our blogs of what to do in and around the area, click here.