In Tullah there is a short loop left of the former Mount Farrell tramway. This tramway was built in 1909 to connect Tullah to the Emu Bay railway which run all the way between Burnie and Zeehan. Now this line ends just short of Zeehan, but is hardly in operation beyond Rosebery. Back in the day that was the only way to get into the West, if you didn’t want to walk the boggy Innes track, which reached Tullah in 1897. Tullah itself is mainly the remaining workers town of the Tassie hydropower projects from the 1960s. That’s also the time when the Murchison highway was built, and the last section of this highway was just sealed less than 30 years ago.
So I drove via Rosebery to Strahan and just by-passed Zeehan. In Strahan I went to the railway station. As the line between Strahan and Queenstown is still in operation as museum railway. But due to Covid-19 it wasn’t, when I was there. And in fact, when it opened by the end of 2021, it was basically booked out all the time. So, I never had an actual chance to get a ride. Due to the steep gradients encountered on this section, they used the Abt rack system from Switzerland. The only of its kind in the southern hemisphere. This section from Queenstown to Zeehan had actually a connection to the Emu Bay railway to Burnie. But nowadays the Murchison highway runs partly on that easement between Zeehan (pronounced zee-hun) and Strahan (pronounced strawn – makes totally sense, right 🤦♂️😜).
Queenstown is an old mining town. The mine provides most of the jobs, but is currently mothballed. There is a bit of tourism left. But you can imagine that, as not many jobs are left, the town isn’t thriving and looks quite dead. It’s a typical mountain town, squeezed into the valley. A lot of remnants of former mining activity can be seen, such as major roads relocations.
From Queenstown I took the Lyell highway to the West. It passes through the World Heritage Area of South-West Tasmania. That’s a very remote area. There is only Lake Burbury on the way. It’s the last dam of the Tasmania hydro project to be completed in 1991 after the decision not to dam the Franklin river. Therefore, the King river was dammed. Afterwards I stopped at the Donaghys Hill lookout. This is at the confluence of the Collingwood river and Franklin river. Both still provide plenty of whitewater kayak activities. The lookout provides a 360° view. But the most remarkable view is the one to the prominent Frenchmans Cap.
I didn’t had time to stop afterwards. So I just passed Lake St. Clair, when you slowly coming back into civilisation, and then drove straight to Hobart. West Tasmania is still a very remote place. You barely have any cars on the roads outside towns. Not to speak about mobile network coverage…and that’s the accessible part of South-West Tassie.