Monday, April 28, 2014

His and Her Travel Review: X is for Railroad

Just 3 letters to go in the A-Z Challenge. The letter X was a difficult one, but we decided that the letter X looks just like the railway crossing sign so that will be the subject of today's post.

Today's travel review is the Zig Zag Railway that is located about 2 hours west of Sydney, near the city of Lithgow, NSW Australia. The railway takes passengers from the top of the Blue Mountains down to the bottom of the mountain range, using a series of switchbacks as it was impractical to get down the mountain any other way. When the line was built in 1860 it was the mainline from Sydney to the cities west of the mountain range; it was replaced by a new line that used a series of tunnels in 1910, eliminating the need for the switchbacks. The land sat dormant for over 60 years, but was turned into a tourist railway in 1972.

The train is pulled by a classic steam engine.
      I had been on the trip many times as a kid, since my dad is a train enthusiast and we usually rode on the train whenever we visited family in the nearby city of Lithgow. When I brought Amanda to Australia for the first time in 2006, we thought it might be good for her to experience the train trip for herself as she had heard a lot about it over the years. It would also be a good way for her to see the countryside at a slightly slower pace as well.

After purchasing our tickets we entered one of a line of carriages that was behind a steam engine. It reminded me of the Hogwarts Express from the Harry Potter movies, but I was pretty certain that we would not end up in Hogsmeade or come across any Dementors or anyone from Hogwarts on this journey. After the whistle blew, the train headed off down the mountain, through a short tunnel and towards the first switchback. At the Switchback the train came to a stop as the engine needed to move to the other end of the train for the second part of the journey down the mountain. The train started moving again and continued down the mountain. Once at the bottom of the mountain the train stopped so we could hop out and buy a snack at the little railway station and give the steam engine time to switch ends again. After about 15 minutes we all piled on board and headed up the mountain. The whole trip took around 2 hours so it's pretty easy to fit into your schedule. The trip has some excellent views of the Blue mountains and of the Australian countryside and is well worth visiting if you enjoy trips on tourist railways. Sadly it is not currently open as much of the equipment was damaged in a bad bushfire (wildfire) but is scheduled to re open at some point later in the year.

I remember quite a bit about this particular journey. The strongest memory is of the scenery. I loved the train, and got the same Harry Potter feel as Sean, but the scenery was incredible. The Blue Mountains are incredibly beautiful. The pictures do not do them justice.

The old line, which is now the Zig Zag tourist railway, is the series of switchback going down the mountain. At the bottom of the mountain you can see the double line that is used by passenger and freight trains going to and from Sydney.

These are the carriages you ride in. Harry Potter is making sense now huh?

It's amazing that they were able to carve a route down the mountain and build the big Viaduct bridge back in the 1850's.

The engine was moved at each switchback. It was a great time for photos.

Are you as big a fan of railways as we are? Which one is your favorite?

Happy Traveling,


  1. That looked like a fun trip to take; I am glad they are going to restore it and get it up and operating soon! I've been on several train adventures like this and they have always indeed proven to be scenic! You did great with the letter X!


  2. The engineering must have been a massive task particularly through that thick bush. I haven't travelled on the train journey but it looks like fun.


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