Don River Railway

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The Don River Railway is committed to recreating living Tasmanian railway history for the benefit of the community.  To achieve this goal the Don River Railway runs a 5km railway line between Don and Coles Beach.  The funds raised from this service are used to undertake further development, maintenance and restoration works.

In 2009 a decision was made to commence restoration of the former royal carriage to its state as a Royal Carriage.  The carriage had been in the collection since the 1970’s when it was bought from the Tasmanian Government Railways for $20.  The 134 year old carriage was used in the 1920-30’s to convey members of the Royal Family during visits to Tasmania.  The carriage had many iterations over the years and was in a bad state of repair.

The Tasmanian Community Fund provided support for the restoration of the carriage.  Most of the restoration was undertaken by volunteers who contributed more than 15 000 volunteer hours over the four years it took to restore the carriage.  During the restoration there was much skill sharing across and between the volunteers and this added to the enjoyment of the process.  Receiving compliments from professional tradespeople on the quality of the workmanship was another reward for the volunteers.

The restoration took much longer than anticipated and there were a few surprises along the way.  For instance, when they were stripped back the volunteers found that the walls and ceilings were of Tasmanian Huon pine and blackwood.  These types of “finds” resulted in many discussions about the best to way to proceed with the restoration to achieve the most authentic outcome possible.

The restoration was undertaken at the Inveresk workshop where the restored carriage was officially launched by the Governor of Tasmania, Mr Peter Underwood, and placed on display for two weekends.  Over the two weekends more than 1 000 people visited the site to view the carriage.  The carriage was then transported, by road, to the Don River Railway site in Don where it will be on display for the enjoyment of the community for the foreseeable future.