Emu Bay Railway

Emu Bay Railway

The Emu Bay Railway was a narrow gauge railway in Tasmania, and was one of the longest lasting and successful private railway companies in Australia. The line itself ran from Zeehan to Burnie, carrying minerals and passengers as an essential service for the West Coast community.


The Emu Bay Railway Company commenced operations in 1897 and its operations were taken over in 2004 and absorbed into TasRail . It served Guildford, Rosebery, and Zeehan, the connection between Zeehan and Regatta Point being a government made and run line. During the construction of the Pieman River hydro electric scheme in the late 1970s it had its route changed and new bridges were built.

The railway is famous for its connection of Queenstown with Burnie for the 1912 North Mount Lyell Disaster, where the times made on various sections were never bettered. The railway was also one of the more successful users of the notorious war-time Australian Standard Garratts [ASG] in the 1940s.

For a short period in the 1960s before the completion of the Murchison Highway, the railway had a passenger and road vehicle train named the West Coaster between Burnie and Zeehan from 1961 to 1964. On the 8th March 1964 the last train to Zeehan was run as an (A.R.E.A) Special train.

In the late 20th century it reverted to goods only, and its terminus was at Melba Flats where the Mount Lyell company and its successor companies trucked its ores from Queenstown.

Stopping Places

At its peak the railway had approximately 23 stopping or named places on its line and adjacent lines:

  • Burnie
  • Pigeon Hill
  • Ridgley
  • Highclere
  • Hampshire
  • Ringwood
  • Toronna
  • Wey River Bridge
  • Guildford - junction to the Mount Bischoff tin Mine
    • Rouse's Camp (Mt Bischoff branch line)
    • Magnet Junction (Mt Bischoff branch line)
    • Waratah (Mt Bischoff branch line)
    • Mount Magnet (Magnet Tramway)
  • Muddy Creek
  • Bulgobac
  • Boko
  • Farrell Junction with the North Mount Farrell Tramway to Tullah, now known as the Wee Georgie Wood Railway.
  • Primrose
  • Barkers Crossing
  • Rosebery
  • Renison Bell
  • Argent Tunnel
  • Melba Siding (also known as Melba Flats)
  • Rayna Junction -- (Junction with the Maestris, or Mount Dundas- Zeehan Railway
  • Zeehan.

Beyond Zeehan the Government line continued to Regatta Point to connect with the Mount Lyell line to Queenstown.

Rolling Stock

One diesel engine from the Emu Bay Railway is now being restored (though re-gauged to ) for use on the Walhalla Goldfields Railway in Victoria another ,1002, is in preservation at the don river railway along with its steam predecessor number 8 "Heemskirk" . The 'PVH' class diesel-hydraulic locomotive built by Paxman in 1952 has been sold to the Derwent Valley Railway, where it remains operational. Indeed, the E.B.R. used only diesel-hydraulic and steam power, and refused to allow any T.G.R., and later A.N.R. Tasrail diesel-electric locomotives on their line. However, since TasRail acquired the E.B.R., all their diesel-hydraulic locomotives have been sold, most to preservation.


  • (1972). Along the Line in Tasmania. Book 2. Private Lines. Traction Publications. ISBN 0-85829-003-0.
  • Atkinson, H.K. (1991). Railway Tickets of Tasmania. ISBN 0-9598718-7-X.
  • Blainey, Geoffrey (2000). The Peaks of Lyell. 6th ed., Hobart: St. David's Park Publishing. ISBN 0-7246-2265-9.
  • Rae, Lou (1997). The Emu Bay Railway. ISBN 0-9592098-6-7.
  • Whitham, Charles Western Tasmania - A land of riches and beauty. Reprint 2003, Queenstown: Municipality of Queenstown.

2003 edition - Queenstown: Municipality of Queenstown.
1949 edition - Hobart: Davies Brothers. ; ASIN B000FMPZ80
1924 edition - Queenstown: Mount Lyell Tourist Association. ; ASIN B0008BM4XC

See also

Further reading

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