Tasmania’s Historic Train Services

Tasmania’s rich history includes a network of historical railways that once connected towns, villages, and industrial centers across the island. While regular passenger services are no longer available, several heritage railways offer scenic journeys through Tasmania’s wilderness and historic sites. Here are some popular options:

West Coast Wilderness Railway: This renowned railway operates between Queenstown and Strahan, traversing 35 kilometers of stunning river and mountain scenery. Climb aboard a vintage steam or heritage diesel locomotive and travel through historic sites, experiencing a bygone era of Tasmanian travel. Website: http://www.wcwr.com.au/

The West Coast Wilderness Railway. Image by Christopher Neugebauer

Tasmanian Tramway Museum: Located in Launceston, this museum offers a glimpse into Tasmania’s tram history. Take a short tram ride through the city center on a restored 1940s tram, accompanied by sounds and sights from the past. The museum also houses a collection of restored trams, locomotives, and other transportation artifacts. Website: Launceston Tramway Museum

Postcard Launceston railcar 16 on the entrance square Gunpowder Mill. Creator: Tasmanian Postcards. Credit: Henrik Boye

Don River Railway: Located along Tasmania’s northwest coast, this heritage railway features steam train trips along the picturesque Don River. Explore the surrounding bushlands and limestone quarries while enjoying the tranquility of the Tasmanian countryside. The railway also boasts a museum showcasing restored locomotives for train buffs. Website: http://donriverrailway.com.au/

The Don River Railway. Image by Steven Penton

Tasman Limited: Though no longer operational, the Tasman Limited holds historical significance. This train service once ran between Hobart and Launceston, offering passenger transportation until 1978. Today, the train carriages are preserved at the Tasmanian Transport Museum in Hobart. Tasmanian Transport Museum. Website: https://tasmaniantransportmuseum.com.au/

The Tasman Limited in Hobart. Image by Leonard J Matthews

Is it Colder in Hobart or Melbourne? Winter Temperatures Compared

While both Melbourne and Hobart experience similar average winter temperatures, there are some subtle differences to consider:

Average Winter Temperatures:

  • Melbourne: 6.5 °C (43.7 °F) to 14.2 °C (57.6 °F)
  • Hobart: 5 °C (41 °F) to 12.3 °C (54.1 °F)

As you can see, Hobart’s average temperatures are slightly cooler than Melbourne’s, especially during the night, with Hobart dipping down to 3 °C (37.4 °F) on some occasions. This is because Hobart is further south and closer to the influence of the colder Antarctic winds.

Additional factors to consider:

  • Rainfall: Melbourne generally receives more rain than Hobart during winter, which can make it feel colder and damper.
  • Sunshine: Both cities experience similar amounts of sunshine in winter, although Melbourne might have slightly more sunny days.
  • Snowfall: While both cities can experience occasional snow flurries, Hobart’s mountainous regions are more likely to see snow accumulation, offering opportunities for winter activities like snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

Overall, while the average temperatures are similar, Hobart has slightly cooler nights, more frequent rain, and a higher chance of experiencing snow, making it feel like a slightly colder winter destination compared to Melbourne.

Featured image of Mount Wellington. Image by Charles Haynes

Labor’s Measures to Address Cost of Living

The Albanese Labor Government has taken significant steps to alleviate the cost of living for Australians. Here are some of the measures they have implemented:

Direct Financial Assistance:

  • Increased income support payments: The base rate of several working-age and student income support payments, including the JobSeeker Payment and Youth Allowance, has been increased by $40 per fortnight for eligible recipients. Additionally, eligibility for the higher rate of the JobSeeker Payment has been extended to single Australians aged 55 to 59 years, matching the criteria for those over 60.


  • Reduced medication costs: Implemented reforms expected to save consumers $250 million in medication costs over the past year.   
  • 60-day dispensing: Allowed for longer prescriptions (60 days) to potentially reduce dispensing fees for patients. To reduce the cost of medicines, the government is allowing some patients to receive 2 months’ worth of their medicines per visit to the pharmacy, resulting in savings of $1.6 billion in out-of-pocket costs over 4 years for at least six million Australians.
  • Bulk Billing: The government is investing $3.5 billion to triple the bulk billing incentive for common GP consultations for children under 16 and Commonwealth concession card holders. This move ensures that 11.6 million eligible Australians can access a GP without any out-of-pocket costs, making it easier and more affordable to see a doctor.


  • Energy Bill Relief Plan: Partnered with states and territories to provide up to $3 billion in electricity bill relief for over 5 million households and 1 million small businesses, resulting in lower electricity and gas price increases in 2023-24 compared to earlier forecasts.

Early Childhood Education:

  • Increased investment in childcare: Aims to increase affordability and accessibility of childcare through increased funding, potentially benefitting families by reducing childcare costs.

Rental Affordability:

  • National Housing Accord: While not directly addressing immediate cost concerns, this initiative aims to increase housing supply in the long run, potentially leading to improved rental affordability in the future.

Tax Relief:

  • Tax cuts: The Albanese Labor Government has made decisions regarding income tax cuts. They plan to retain the 37% tax rate for high-income earners, unwinding the most controversial element of the Morrison government’s stage-three tax cuts. This move redirects savings to low- and middle-income earners, ensuring that everyone earning between the tax-free threshold of $18,200 and $45,000 will receive a tax cut. While this decision has sparked political debate, it allows Labor to argue that it is providing more generous cuts to about 80% of Australians.

Wage Growth:

  • Indirectly supporting wage growth: While the government doesn’t directly set wages, their broader economic policies, such as increased investment in skills and training and supporting economic growth, aim to create conditions that could lead to higher wages over time. Additionally, the Fair Work Commission raised the minimum wage by 5.2% in July 2023, directly impacting the lowest-paid workers.

Other Initiatives:

  • Fuel excise cut extension: Agreed to a temporary extension of the fuel excise cut, providing some relief at the pump.
  • Free TAFE courses: Introduced free TAFE courses in priority areas, potentially leading to upskilling and potentially higher wages for some individuals.
  • Concessional loans for pensioners: Increased the maximum concessional loan amount available to eligible pensioners, aiming to help them manage unexpected expenses.

Featured image from by -Chupacabras- at https://flickr.com/photos/25222005@N08/2755112918

Touring Tasmania by Public Transport

Tasmania needs little introduction to a mainlander. A place on everyone’s bucket list of places to visit. If you don’t own a caravan, aren’t keen on guided tours, or dealing with car rental companies, you can always opt for touring Tasmania using public transport. Apart from railway and tramway historical groups there are no passenger trains serving the island. But there are plenty of buses and coaches running services between the towns and cities. Tasmanians are friendly people and super proud of their beautiful island home, so expect to meet them firsthand as you travel around using local bus services.

Hobart Botanical Gardens. Image by Geoff Whalan

There are two ways to get to Tasmania: fly or float. You can fly directly to either Hobart or Launceston from most major cities on the mainland. If you’re not keen on air travel and would like to soak up some sea views, there’s always the Spirit of Tasmania. Fares one way Melbourne to Devonport start at just $69.

The trip I’ve laid out below starts from Devonport, travels around the island, and returns to Devonport. The trip takes in the east coast with a stop in Bicheno, then on to Hobart and then across to the west coast to Strahan, with a stop in Queenstown along the way. Then it goes north to Burnie on the Northwest coast and then from Burnie back to Devonport. If you fly into either Launceston or Hobart, start your trip from there. Map of Tasmania.

Seniors Travel Discounts
Seniors and pensioners discounts are easily available. Information on fares.
You can also apply online for a Greencard which will give you a discount of 20%.

Devonport to Launceston coach service
This service is operated by Redline and there are three services (M-F) a day from Devonport to Launceston. The full timetable is at:

Accommodation close to the centre of Launceston | Close to the centre of Devonport

Launceston to Bicheno coach service
There are two services a day from Launceston to Bicheno at 1.20pm and at 4.15pm (M-F) The full timetable can be found at:

Accommodation close to the centre of Bicheno

Bicheno to Hobart
coach service
There is a daily service that leaves Bicheno at 8.45am and gets you into Hobart at 11.45am. The timetable is at:

Accommodation close to the centre of Hobart

Hobart to Queenstown coach service
There’s a daily service from Hobart thru to Queenstown.

Accommodation close to the centre of Queenstown

Queenstown to Strahan coach service

Accommodation close to the center of Strahan

Strahan, Macquarie Harbour, Tasmania. Image by Arthur Chapman

Strahan to Burnie coach service

Accommodation close to the center of Burnie

Burnie to Devonport coach service
There is an hourly service from Burnie through to Devonport and Launceston

Accommodation close to the center of Devonport


Hobart to Cygnet and the Huon Valley
There are numerous services to Huonville and a couple of services to Cygnet each day. https://www.transport.tas.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/194954/Huon_Valley_to_Hobart_Web_timetable.pdf

Accommodation close to the center of Huonville

Huonville, TAS, Mountain Peak in the Hartz Mountains National Park, Tasmania.

Hobart to Launceston coach service
There are also regular services between Hobart to Launceston, taking you down through the middle of the island. A fast inland trip.

Regular passenger services ceased in Tasmania in the late 1970’s. However, numerous Railway Historical Groups keep the spirit of rail travel alive, offering the chance to experience a historic steam train or tram ride. The scene above is from the West Coast Wilderness Railway. More>>
Image by Andrew Phelps

Seniors Card Travel: Sydney to Port Macquarie by train for $5

Save on your Port Macquarie trip with Seniors fares!

If you’re a senior who enjoys early starts, you can travel from Sydney to Port Macquarie for just $5. That’s a whopping 87% discount compared to the regular $42.08 fare.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Grab your cards: You’ll need two cards for this journey. First, apply for a Gold Seniors Concessional Opal card if you don’t have one already. It’s easy, and you can receive it within a week or two. Click here to get started: https://www.opal.com.au/ordercard. Second, you’ll need your Seniors card, valid in any Australian state. You can apply here: https://my.gov.au/en/services/ageing/retirement/after-you-retire/concessions-for-older-australians

  2. Book your train: Choose a Dungog to Port Macquarie Country Pensioner Excursion ticket. This special ticket costs only $2.50, but it can only be booked 7 days in advance or less. Book online at: https://www.nswtrainlink.info/regional-bookings
    Or call NSWtrainLink on 13 22 32. 

  3. Catch the early bird: This deal is only available Monday to Friday. Start your journey with the 5:15am Opal service from Central to Newcastle Interchange, arriving at 7:50am. Find the timetable here: https://transportnsw.info/documents/timetables/93-CCN-Central-Coast-Newcastle-Line-20230708.pdf

  4. Connect at Newcastle: You’ll get 39 minutes to enjoy a cuppa, in the cafe near Newcastle Interchange. At Newcastle Interchange, hop on the 8:29am Opal service to Dungog, arriving at 9:50am. See the timetable here: https://transportnsw.info/documents/timetables/93-HUN-Hunter-Line-20220219.pdf

  5. Board the XPT: In Dungog, catch your pre-booked XPT train departing at 10:43am.

  6. Finish with a bus ride: Arrive in Wauchope at 1:47pm and transfer to a 20-minute coach ride to Port Macquarie.

Enjoy your trip! This option offers significant savings and a scenic journey for seniors who are flexible with their travel times. Remember, this deal is available only Mondays to Fridays.

The coach service will drop you off in the middle of downtown Port Macquarie. There are numerous motels and hotels you can stay at within a short walking distance from where the coach drops you off. 

Important Links

Port Macquarie accommodation – Close to the center of town
Port Macquarie Taxis
Port Macquarie Visitor Information

Center of Port Macquarie. The Town Green. Image by ScenicAviator 

Brisbane to Sydney by Train: Why Coffs Harbour Makes the Perfect Midpoint Break

The 14-hour train journey from Brisbane to Sydney can feel endless. Enter Coffs Harbour, the perfect mid-point stopover with convenient lodgings, a charming atmosphere and everything within a short walking distance.

Convenient Comfort:

The Coffs Harbour train station boasts the Caribbean Motel, just a quick 5-minute walk from the station. I can personally vouch for this clean and comfortable option, ideal for a refreshing break. Since you’ll be arriving just after 11.00, if your room isn’t ready, leave your bags with reception and explore!

Culinary Delights:

Across the street, a plethora of restaurants and eateries awaits. There’s also a pub on the corner, The Pier Hotel which also offers meals and accommodation. Craving seafood? Stroll 10 minutes to the Coffs Harbour Fishermen’s Co-operative for delicious fish & chips and a cafe. Alternatively, the Coffs Harbour Yacht Club, which you’ll pass while walking to the Fishermans Coop, offers an excellent lunch and dinner menu.

Scenic Sights:

No Coffs Harbour visit is complete without a walk along the iconic jetty. Enjoy the picturesque scenery after indulging in fish & chips or a yacht club meal.

Next Stop, Sydney:

Two train options connect you to Sydney the next morning. The first departs at 6:26 AM, arriving in Sydney at 3:44 PM. If you prefer a later start, the original Brisbane-Sydney XPT departs Coffs Harbour at 11:05 AM, reaching Sydney at 8:12 PM.

Embrace the Break:

By breaking up your journey in Coffs Harbour, you escape train fatigue, explore a beautiful town, and recharge for the final leg of your trip. So, ditch the long train tunnel and embrace the Coffs Harbour oasis!

I hope this is helpful!

To book go to https://transportnsw.info/regional or call NSWTrainklink 13 22 32. It maybe best that you call to book and advise the agent at NSWTrainlink that you want a ticket from Brisbane to Sydney with a break of journey at Coffs Harbour.

Other accommodation close to the Coffs Harbour Railway Station and Coffs Harbour Jetty

Happy traveling.

Muttonbird Island, with the Coffs Hartbour Jetty beach in the foreground. Image by Dale
Photo by DENISBIN https://www.flickr.com/photos/82134796@N03/

Breaking the Sydney-Melbourne Train Journey: Why Albury Is a Perfect Pit Stop

The 11-hour Sydney-Melbourne train ride often induces groans. Cramped seats, even with the recommended aisle strolls and coffee escapes, the journey can feel like an eternity. But there’s a magic spell to break this monotony – a mid-point pit stop in the city of Albury.

Right across from the station, you’ll find the convenient, clean, safe and comfortable Winsor Park Motor Inn. I speak from personal experience – its clean rooms and welcoming atmosphere have made it my preferred refuge for breaking up the journey.

Albury’s vibrant main street awaits just a short stroll away, packed with cafes, shops, and local character. If you haven’t graced this city with your presence, prepare to be pleasantly surprised!

Now, let’s tailor your break. Depart Sydney on the Sydney to Melbourne 7:40 AM XPT and arrive in Albury at 3:10 PM – the perfect time to check into your motel and explore downtown.

Need to be in Melbourne early the next morning? The 4:08 AM XPT from Albury takes you straight to Southern Cross by 7:30 AM. Find the full Sydney-Melbourne XPT timetable here: https://transportnsw.info/regional-southern-line

But maybe you’re on a leisurely holiday or making that epic, once-in-a-lifetime journey. Victoria’s Vline offers a range of Albury-Melbourne options for a more relaxed pace. The first train departs at 6:54 AM, reaching Southern Cross by 10:27 AM, while the 12:51 PM service arrives at 2:33 PM. Explore the complete timetable and more Vline details here: https://www.vline.com.au/Timetables/Train-coach-timetables (Click on “Melbourne to Albury/Wodonga via Seymour, Benalla and Wangaratta”).

And if you’d like to continue to Melbourne on the XPT, the 3:10 PM service from Albury whisks you into Southern Cross by 6:30 PM.

So, ditch the seat-time blues and embrace the Albury advantage. Break up your journey, recharge your spirit, and discover a delightful detour on your Sydney-Melbourne rail adventure. While numerous motels line Albury station, the Winsor Park Motor Inn has earned my personal recommendation for a comfortable and convenient stay.

To book (online) the Sydney to Albury leg of the journey go to https://transportnsw.info/regional or call NSWTrainklink 13 22 32

More info about VLine booking info, timetables an contact go to: https://www.vline.com.au/

Or call VLine on 1800 800 007

Happy travels.

Train to Woy Woy and ferry to Davistown for lunch

Davistown is a small, peaceful, and picturesque Central Coast village. It can be accessed by train from Sydney to Woy Woy and then by ferry to the Davistown Central Wharf which is near the village shopping centre.

There is also a bus service from Gosford. The timetable is at: https://transportnsw.info/routes/details/central-coast-buses-network/63/61063

Train services from Central to Woy Woy run every half hour. This is an Opal service, no bookings are required. The timetable for the train from Sydney Central to Woy Woy is at: https://transportnsw.info/routes/details/intercity-trains/ccn/02CCN

The most enjoyable and quickest way to Davistown is by ferry from Woy Woy. The ferry service runs seven days a week, but since you’re heading to Davistown for lunch, may I suggest either the 10.45 a.m. or the 12.30 p.m. service from the ferry wharf at Woy Woy. Both of these services run seven days a week. The wharf is a five-minute walk north of Woy Woy station.

The ferry service is run by Central Coast Ferries. Their timetable and fares are at: https://centralcoastferries.com.au/woy-woy-empire-bay-timetable/

Unfortunately, they don’t accept Opal cards, but have EFTPOS facilities on board and accept cash.

You’ll arrive at Davistown Central Wharf. The village of Davistown is across the reserve – a two-minute walk from the wharf. In the centre of Davistown is a cafe named The Little Teapot specialising in tea, cake and sandwiches. They also specialise in creating cosy spaces and have a pleasant outdoor dining area. If you enjoy high tea, this is the cafe for you.

If you’re looking for something more substantial and a glass of vino or cold beer, there’s the Davistown RSL. I can vouch for this club, they have excellent dining facilities and a great selection of lunches.

The club is about a kilometre or two from the wharf, but the club provides a free shuttle bus service to and from the wharf. All you need to do is tell the ferry captain, who also sells you your ticket, that you are heading to the club for lunch. He’ll then call the club, and the shuttle bus will be waiting at the wharf when you arrive. The ferry trip from Woy Woy to Davistown takes 25 minutes.

If you have lunch at the club, try to leave yourself an hour or a half at the waterfront to have a walk and look around before the ferry arrives to take you back to Woy Woy and train back to Sydney.

Enjoy your day on the Central Coast. Don’t forget to take your camera.

Seniors Card Travel: Tweed Heads or Byron Bay to Geelong for $14.40

To begin your journey to Dungog, catch the NSWTrainLink coach departing Tweed Heads at 05:15 or from Byron Bay at 05:53. A change from the coach to the XPT at Casino is required. You can find the timetable at https://transportnsw.info/regional-north-coast-line.

You’ll need to book this Tweed Heads or Byron for the Dungog section of the journey either online at https://transportnsw.info/regional-bookings/ or by calling 13 22 32. The ticket you need is a Country Pensioner Excursion (CPE) ticket. The cost will be $2.50. This ticket will take you all the way from Tweed Heads (or Byron) and anywhere in between to Dungog. When you call, have your Seniors card or Pensioner card and a credit or debit card ready to pay. You must make your booking seven or fewer days before departure as Country Pensioner Excursion (CPE) tickets are only available seven days or less before departure. It is essential to book your CPE tickets online or over the phone as CPE tickets cannot be purchased at railway stations or NSWTrainLink booking offices in and around the Sydney area, not even at Central Station, can they be purchased.

You arrive at Dungog at 16;38

Dungog to Hamilton

Once you arrive at Dungog you are inside the Opal card boundary. The Opal card reader is near the exit of Dungog station, tap on here. The train to Hamilton departs Dungog for Hamilton at 17:05.  The timetable for the service can be found at: https://transportnsw.info/routes/details/intercity-trains/hun/76HUN

Hamilton to Sydney (Central)

Your scheduled arrival time in Hamilton is 18:26. Upon arrival, make sure to cross over to the other side of the line where Sydney trains depart. You can catch the next train to Sydney (Central) at 18:38. However, in case your train from Dungog is delayed, there are alternative services departing at 19:27 and 19:45. If you take the 18:34 train from Hamilton, you will reach Central at 21:29.

Your upcoming departure from Central Station is scheduled for 06:11 am the following morning. Luckily, the area has plenty of accommodation options, including several hotels and a Youth Hostel located just across the street from the station.

Sydney (Central) to Campbelltown

The journey starts aboard the 06:11 Opal train service from Central to Macarthur. You can find the timetable for this service at:

Campbelltown to Goulburn

Alight the train at Campbelltown (one stop before Macarthur) and board the coach bound for Goulburn. The timetable for the coach service can be found at:

The Campbelltown to Goulburn coach is a regular Opal service, so just tap on when you board the coach and tap off when you alight at Goulburn.

Goulburn to Albury

Upon your arrival at Goulburn railway station, you will have an hour and thirteen minutes to enjoy a quick cup of coffee before boarding the Melbourne-bound XPT train at 10:13. The train will arrive at Albury station at 15:10. The timetable for this service is available for your reference at:

You’ll need to book the Goulburn to Albury leg of the journey either online at https://transportnsw.info/regional-bookings/ or call NSW trainLink on 13 22 32. The ticket you need is a Country Pensioner Excursion (CPE) ticket. The cost will be $2.50. Have your Seniors card or Pensioner card and a credit or debit card ready to pay. To ensure a smooth trip, it’s advisable to book your train tickets seven days prior to your intended departure, particularly during public and school holidays when the train is in high demand.

Albury to Melbourne (Southern Cross)

The last leg of the journey to Melbourne is aboard a Victorian V/Line service which departs Albury at 17:20. You’re going to have a couple of hours to enjoy the sights of Albury. The main drag is just a block and a half from the station – a 5-minute walk.

You’ll need to book the Albury to Geelong leg of the trip, either by calling VLine on 1800 800 007 or booking online at:

The fare for Seniors (Concession) cardholders from Albury to Geelong is $4.60. You’ll arrive in Melbourne (Southern Cross) at 21:45. The timetable is at: https://www.ptv.vic.gov.au/route/timetable/1706/albury-melbourne-via-seymour/

Melbourne to Geelong

With a 21:45 arrival at Southern Cross, the next train to Geelong is at 22:30 which will land you in Geelong at 23:32. The timetable is at: https://www.vline.com.au/getattachment/892e2d02-e62c-463f-834f-b3bae129b47c/Geelong-Melbourne

Geelong to Tweed Heads

Click Here to get back to Tweed Heads or Byron Bay for $11.60.

A brief history of Mildura and places to visit

Mildura is a city in the Sunraysia region of north-west Victoria, Australia. It is located on the banks of the Murray River, about 530 kilometres north-west of Melbourne. The city has a population of about 78,000 people.

Mildura was first settled by Aboriginal people for thousands of years before European arrival. The first European to visit the area was explorer Hamilton Hume in 1829. In 1847, pastoralist Frank Jenkin took up land in the area and named it Irymple. The name Mildura was adopted in 1858.

In 1886, Canadian-American irrigation engineers George and William Chaffey arrived in Mildura and established an irrigation colony. The Chaffeys’ irrigation scheme was a success, and Mildura quickly became a major agricultural and horticultural centre. The city also became a popular tourist destination, known for its mild climate, lush gardens, and wineries.

Mildura has a rich history and culture, and there are many historical places to visit in the city. Here are a few suggestions:

Historical Places to Visit in Mildura

  • Mildura Arts Centre and Rio Vista Homestead: This complex houses an art gallery, a theatre, and a historic homestead. The homestead was built in 1889 by the Chaffey brothers, who were responsible for irrigating the Mildura region.
    Mildura Arts Centre and Rio Vista Homestead in Mildura

  • Kow Plains Homestead: This homestead was built in 1866 and is one of the oldest buildings in the Mildura region. It is now a museum that tells the story of the early settlers of the area.
    Kow Plains Homestead in Mildura

  • Lock 11: This lock was built in 1907 and is one of the most important structures in the Mildura irrigation system. It controls the flow of water from the Murray River into the Mildura system.
    Lock 11 in Mildura

  • Mildura Visitor Information Centre: This center is a great place to start your exploration of Mildura. It has exhibits on the history of the city and the region, and staff can help you plan your itinerary.
    Mildura Visitor Information Centre in Mildura

  • Mildura Botanical Gardens: These gardens are home to a wide variety of plants from around the world. They are a great place to relax and enjoy the outdoors.
    Mildura Botanical Gardens in Mildura

  • The Langtree Hall Museum: This museum tells the story of the Sunraysia region, from its Aboriginal heritage to its modern-day wine industry.
    The Langtree Hall Museum in Mildura

  • Mildura Holden Motor Museum: The museum houses a magnificent display of 30 to 35 Holden vehicles, starting from the first model made to current models.
    Mildura Holden Motor Museum


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