Friday, 15 May 2015

National Park: The Tasmanian Wilderness Station

64 km north west of Hobart lies the tiny former Tasmanian Railway Station of National Park. Situated right on the doorstep of Mount Field National Park, the train station was once the destination for excursion trains from Hobart bringing sightseers to visit the nearby Russell Falls.

National Park Station on the Derwent Valley Line in Tasmania, all boarded up back in 2011.

National Park Railway Station is situated on the old Derwent Valley Line, originally built in 1886 from Bridgewater to New Norfolk and gradually extended in sections until it reached National Park on its way to the town of Fitzgerald in 1917. The Derwent Valley Line eventually made it 8 km further into the Florentine Valley to a logging camp at Kallista in 1936.

National Park Railway Station is visible from the car as you enter Mount Field National Park in Tasmania. Photo 2011.

The line beyond New Norfolk was closed by TasRail in 1995, following heavy rains and substantial track damage. Until then, National Park Station had been a popular destination for the Derwent Valley Railway to operate steam heritage specials, and many historic Tasmanian Railway videos feature brightly coloured carriages being hauled along the Tyenna River to the tiny station at the entrance to Mount Field National Park. Thankfully, this section of line has avoided being torn up like so many other railway lines in Australia once they are closed. But what was the real attraction that once brought train loads of tourists to this tiny Tasmanian wilderness railway station? It was of course the sight of nearby Russell Falls. Today the Mount Field National Park Visitors Centre is located just a short walk from the former railway station. In fact, you can see it from your car window as you drive into the park.

Russell Falls in Mount Field National Park, Tasmania, 2011.

While the Derwent Valley Railway continue to try to reopen the line to National Park, Maydena Railtrack Riders have opened the end section of the Derwent Valley Line between Maydena and the Florentine Valley for use by pedal powered railcars. I visited Mount Field National Park and went railtrack riding at Maydena during my trip to Tasmania in September 2011. Back then, National Park Station was boarded up and still wearing a coat of maroon paint. Today it has been restored and is used by Railtrack Riders as the starting point for their Mount Field to Newbury adventure. You can see the newly repainted station here. Tasmania has very few remaining railway station preserved in their original location. So photographing National Park Railway Station in its original condition back in 2011 was simply good timing on my part.

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