Ida Bay Railway
Ida Bay Railway, inland from the town of Southport on the Huon Estuary, offers a unique opportunity to travel on the last original operating bush tramway in Tasmania and one of the last in Australia. Ida Bay Railway also has the distinction of being the most southerly railway in Australia, running two 1940 era Malcolm Moore diesel locomotives that haul vintage open carriages.
Children are always thrilled at the opportunity to take a ride through the bush on such a quaint train, but its appeal extends to travellers of all ages. The return trip of 2 hours affords many historical points of interest. The train meanders through bush land along the original train line, built to carry limestone and timber to a wharf at Deep Hole. Along the way the train stops at a tiny bush cemetery were passengers can alight and read the memorials to the local pioneers and workers buried there. The train terminates at Deep Hole using the same wharf that timber was exported from Hastings. A picnic shelter with BBQ facilities (please ask the driver to take out a Gas bottle if you would like to use the BBQs) and toilets for the use of train travellers are located at the beach at the end of the railway line.
You can along the water’s edge to a safe and secluded beach which is only accessible by walking, by water or by the train, before taking the train ride back to the station at Lune River. The walk down to Southport Lagoon is about 40 minutes each way from the end of the railway line at Deep Hole. The walk is over reasonable terrain and allows the walker to enjoy the peace and serenity of Southport Lagoon.
Alternatively you can do like many people do and go exploring, returning later in the day to catch a return train. Some people spend the entire day down at the Deep Hole and Southport lagoon, then catch the last train back to the station. Southport Bluff (easy 2-4hrs) is accessible from the end of the track. Campers can also catch the last train down, stay overnight and catch a morning train back.
When you are back at the station, be sure to call in it at Ida Bay Railway café – the last food stop in Southern Tasmania and the most southerly place to get a bite to eat in the country! The cafe has a selection of hot and cold foods, either as a eat in meal or takeaway, hot and cold drinks, ice creams, confectionery and home made cakes. They offer Burgers, Steak sandwiches, Bacon Egg Rolls, All Day Breakfast, Devonshire Teas, Gluten Free Breads and Sandwiches mad to order with and combinations of Ham, Chicken, Fresh Local Salmon, Curried Egg and Salads. Deep fried foods include Fish, Chips, Potato Cakes, Dims Sims and Spring Rolls.
If you’d rather enjoy a cafe meal “before” the train, please allow enough time for it to be perpared and for you to enjoy it without being rushed. You can call the Cafe on 03 6298 3110 to arrange your meals for the ride anytime. The café also had available bread, milk and BBQ packs on request if you’d like to use the facilities at deep Hole. The Cafe Operates from 9am till 4pm every day. Campsites and Cabins are also available for those wishing to enjoy an extended stay in the area.
Visit the website for the railway timetable and prices. More information is availble on Ida Bay Railway website or by calling 03 6298 3110.
Ida Bay Railway
Ph (03) 6298 3110
Ida Bay Railway travels a 2’ gauge railway line constructed in 1922. In early colonial days, limestone was sent by train from Lune River, All access was originally by water, with the two communities of Lune River and Hastings separated by a long, narrow tongue of land, and boat-building became a significant industry in the area, with coal once exported via Hastings. Here too, a eucalyptus oil distillery operated briefly. By necessity, people grew vegetables, fruit-orchards and livestock for food, with hunting and fishing an essential part of life as well as providing income. The discovery of the Hastings dolomite caves by timber workers (1917), led to the early development of tourism.