Sunday Drive to the Don River Railway


Our weekend outing was more about the destination than the journey this time. We wanted to visit the Don River Railway which is just outside Devonport.

We arrived early and had a quick look at Don Market, held in a hall adjacent to the railway. We bought some cake and some vegetables which we stowed in the car before heading to the trains.

I have posted about the Don River Railway before. Naomi and I have visited a couple of times in the past. However, now Naomi volunteers at the railway twice a week cleaning the carriages and keeping the museum, toilets and platforms clean and tidy so she is getting to know the place quite well. She works there on weekdays but a couple of volunteers she knows were there on Sunday so I got to meet them.

The Platform, Don Village Station

The history of the Don River Railway is quite interesting. You can read about the freight operations in the area here. The current site of the museum has been developed over the years. The track had to be relaid and the station and workshop buildings were sourced from other industrial sites. Naomi was telling me some of this as we went around so I’ll see if I can get her to write a little bit more about it one day. We first visited Don River Railway in the late 1990’s during our first visit to Tasmania and you can imagine the many thousands of hours that volunteers have put in over the years to keep the railway running.

old scales

We had a look around the museum which is adjacent to the shop/ticket office. It’s small but interesting with old photos, items like old lanterns and a model railway that you press a button to operate. Out on the platform are old wooden luggage carts piled with vintage suitcases, an old scale and other bits and pieces. The station building itself is the former Ulverstone Station, dismantled and moved to Don after the line closed to passenger traffic. We climbed into the signal cabin to see the old levers. It was also a good place to get a photo of the locomotive from above which I did while Naomi was exclaiming over cobwebs and making plans to give the box a good clean on Monday.

After that we took the train to Coles Beach and back. M4 was running, without the “Thomas The Tank Engine” family headboard it was sporting the last time I saw it.

Ex TGR M4
M4 at the DRR
M4 at Don River Railway

This is the carriage we chose to sit in. It is a BBL class car which used to run on suburban trains in Hobart. It dates back to about 1937. Inside there is a guard’s compartment and the saloon is divided into two sections. The part where we were sitting had wooden panelling, the other part had mirrors at each end and above the windows.

BBL – Suburban Carriage
Guards compartment
Mirrored section of the saloon
BBL class suburban carriage

The other carriages on the train were much smaller older cars known as “dogboxes” because they are divided into separate compartments with no corridor. The first-class ones had upholstered seats but the second class had hard wooden benches.

Our next stop was the workshop to inspect some of the static exhibits like the Royal Car and some suburban carriages and various restoration projects which we could see from the viewing platform. This area doubles as a function room where events are held, usually on Friday and Saturday evenings. When an event is scheduled, the carriages are shunted out and a temporary wall is erected to make a comfortable dining room for weddings, engagement parties or whatever. It is a good source of revenue for the railway.

Outside the sheds there are several static displays of steam and diesel locomotives, the turntable and a few of the DRR’s other working locomotives including this Ruston diesel engine one of two they use for shunting.

Ruston diesel

I do have some other photos and Naomi has been taking a lot on days she is there so we might show you a bit more of the Don River Railway another day.

Taswegian1957

I was born in England in 1957 and lived there until our family came to Australia in 1966. I grew up in Adelaide, South Australia, where I met and married my husband, David. We came together over a mutual love of trains. Both of us worked for the railways for many years, his job was with Australian National Railways, while I spent 12 years working for the STA, later TransAdelaide the Adelaide city transit system. After leaving that job I worked in hospitality until 2008. We moved to Tasmania in 2002 to live in the beautiful Huon Valley. In 2015 David became ill and passed away in October of that year. I currently co-write two blogs on WordPress.com with my sister Naomi. Our doll blog "Dolls, Dolls, Dolls", and "Our Other Blog" which is about everything else but with a focus on photographs and places in Tasmania. In November 2019 I began a new life in the house that Naomi and I intend to make our retirement home at Sisters Beach in Tasmania's northwest. Currently we have five pets between us. Naomi's two dogs Toby and Teddy and cats, Tigerwoods and Panther and my cat Polly. My dog Cindy passed away aged 16 in April 2022.

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