much-travelled 0-4-0WT locomotive was built for the Mt Lyell Mining &
Railway Co, becoming No.9 on their roster and joining a fleet of similar
Krauss locomotives working the tramlines connecting the copper mine and
smelter at Queenstown.
of ownership in 1947 saw the locomotive working at the Ida Bay Railway in
the far south of Tasmania, before moving to the Tullah Tramway in 1949. The
Tullah Tramway was an interesting line connecting the eponymous township
with the Emu Bay Railway at Farrell Siding, a distance of 8.5 miles. The route
broadly followed the Pieman River, and I imagine the terrain was both rugged
and scenic. The Tullah Tramway represents the pioneer days of Tasmania’s
west coast, when small mining communities were very isolated except for the
link provided by railways. Construction of the Murchison Highway in 1964 created
a road connection for townships such as Tullah, leading to closure of the tramway.
By this stage My Lyell No.9 was the last locomotive operating on the line.
of the Murchison Highway also spurred the development of hydroelectricity along
Tasmania’s west coast, including the Bastyan Dam and power station as part
of the Pieman River Scheme. Tullah now sits on the shoreline of the artificially
created Lake Rosebery, which unfortunately drowned much of the route of the
former Tullah Tramway. Today, hydroelectricity is a major employer in the
area and indeed Tasmania supplies clean hydroelectric power to mainland
Australia via an underwater cable across Bass Strait.
5988 / Mt Lyell No.9 was initially preserved in 1972, being housed at the
Van Diemen Railway Society, Don. A section of the Tullah Tramway was
subsequently reopened as a heritage and tourist railway, the ‘Wee Georgie
Wood Steam Railway’ in reference to the resident little Fowler loco (b/n 16203). Some restoration work on
My Lyell No.9 was done in the Emu Bay Railway workshops, Burnie from 1987
before the loco moved back to Tullah in 1993 and was assessed for overhaul,
but the old boiler was found to be beyond repair. The condemned boiler is
now displayed near the Wee Georgie Wood Steam Railway station at Tullah
while the loco is stored – sans boiler - inside the running shed.
Wee Georgie Wood Steam Railway operates a 1.8km section of the former Tullah
Tramway from the township towards Lake Rosebery. Operating dates can be
found on the Wee
Georgie Wood Steam Railway website, together with a brief history of
the line and its locomotives. A future extension along the shore of Lake
Rosebery is planned – subject to funding to help develop this asset to
local tourism – hopefully together with funds for a replacement boiler for Mt