Am just taking a quick detour from our European travels to post a bit closer to home this week. A couple of months ago Tourism WA launched a new advertising campaign with the catchphrase “# Just another day in WA”! The idea being that people could share their own personal experiences on social media using the phrase as a tag. I thought I’d do my bit this week by sharing some photos of our recent trip on the delightful Hotham Valley Tourist Railway.
Based in Dwellingup a couple of hours or so south from Perth, the railway was set up in 1974 to keep alive the heritage of the area. Originally a logging town, the railway was a vital means of getting the logs transported up to the coast and towards Perth but fell into disuse. Now manned by dedicated volunteers the trains trundle off into the nearby forest at weekends and school holidays. From June to October you can enjoy the charms of the old steam engines (it’s too risky with the bushfire threat in the summer months).
We had booked to go on the afternoon “Steam Ranger” with our daughter, son in law and 2 very excited little granddaughters! We had lunch first at Dwellingup Hotel, which is WA’s only remaining community hotel. It has been open since the early 1900s (historic by our standards!) and is also one of the few buildings to have survived the devastating Dwellingup bushfires of 1961. They serve good hearty pub food as you’d expect and must do a roaring trade when the trains are running!
Finally after much anticipation the eagerly awaited departure time came – off we went! The 2 hour ride takes you along the Darling Escarpment through scenic jarrah forests, across streams and several level crossings (with much waving and cheering!).
After a pleasant ride you come to Isandra Siding where there is a 30 minute turn around. You can stretch your legs and wander round but there isn’t much else to do as you are out in the middle of the forest. Train and engine buffs will enjoy watching the engine being uncoupled and recoupled though. Rest assured there are toilets and cafe facilities back on the train! Once the engine is all set up again it’s all aboard for the return journey! Our little granddaughters (3 and 15 months) were beyond excited and loved having the window open so they could see out. You can purchase goggles if you like to protect your eyes from the steam but we didn’t find it a problem though our clothes did smell vaguely sooty when we got off again (all part of the fun!).
The “Forest Train”, which takes you in the opposite direction out of Dwellingup to the Etmilyn Forest operates all year round (Saturdays and Sundays from November to April and Saturdays only the rest of the year). It is pulled either by a diesel or steam engine depending on the time of year. At Etmilyn you can enjoy a 20 to 25 minute stroll through the jarrah forest before the return journey to Dwellingup. We did this route a few years back (just the two of us on that occasion) and I can highly recommend it too. Also very popular is the Restaurant Train where you can enjoy a fine dining experience whilst riding into the forest and back.
Personally I don’t think you can beat the charms of an old steam train and the Hotham Valley Tourist Railway is a wonderful testament to Western Australia’s heritage!
Copyright © 2016 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved