After a very hot night in the hotel with no air conditioning or even a ceiling fan, we got out of bed to have breakfast and packing the car before strolling across the road to the railway station from where the West Coast Wilderness Railway departs. We had booked the Wilderness Class a couple of months previously and had looked forward to this treat for some time.
I must say, apart from the experience of the outing, the service and catering was exceptional: a glass of bubbles to start (yes, at 9 o’clock in the morning), followed by canapes once we got going, followed by scone with cream and jam after the first stop, and finally followed by a bowl of soup and a cob loaf with ice cream for dessert. So, I highly recommend the extra expense for this class of ticket.
As for the train journey, it took us from Queenstown along the track, up and down the rack and pinion track to Dubbil Barril and back again. There were a few stops for filling the oil fired steam engine with water and, of course, some addition al attractions such as panning for gold. The highest station is at Rinadeena Saddle, 240m above sea level with a 1 in 16 incline on one side and 1 in 20 on the other. There was a full commentary through the trip, too much to go into here. Check out https://www.wcwr.com.au/ for more information. But the one thing that struck me was the terrible conditions that the workers who built the line were subjected to.
On returning to Queenstown at just after 13:00, we immediately set out for Mount Field. The temperature gradually increased from about 18 to 30 by the time we reached Mount Field, although it dropped a couple of degrees by the time we drove up the 16 km of rising, winding, gravel road to the Government Huts at an altitude of 1000m, our home for the next three nights. Dinner was served outside in the warmth of the evening.
As an aside, we stopped at the Horse Tail Falls up the hill out of Queesntown, about a 20 minute walk from the main road along a board walk that hugged the side of a steep hillside that took us up at a more or less constant incline. As we rounded the corner we saw the viewing platform above us and thought that it must give us a different view. Unfortunately not, the waterfall was the merest trickle that we had seen at the corner!
As happens at Mount Field, the weather changed overnight and we woke to a damp misty chilly morning. As the sun was setting the sky was clear and I thought this would be a good night for photographing the night sky, but it was not to be as a thin layer of cloud came across. At one point when checking the sky, just after dark, I opened the door to be greeted by two local resident possums. They were quick and almost managed to sneak past me into the hut – there is no knowing what might have happened had they gained access!