Place:Teepoo Kana, Tasmania, Australia


NameTeepoo Kana
Coordinates42.183333°S 145.383333°E
Located inTasmania, Australia

Teepookana and the Abt Railway [1]

The history of the Teepookana and the Abt railway line that once joined it to the outside world is tied to the mineral boom of the turn of the century. The discovery of rich deposits of copper at Mt Lyell led to the establishment of the Mt Lyell Mining Company in 1892. Yet transport of ore from the Mt Lyell mines posed a major problem. Between the mines and the nearest possible port lay an expanse of rugged and steep terrain cloaked in thick rainforest. In 1894 the Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Company commenced work on the ambitious project.

Four hundred men laboured to construct the Abt railway under the harsh conditions. Morale was often low among the workers. In the mid-winter of 1885 a stop-work meeting forced the contractors to offer reduced work hours and slightly improved wages (six shillings and sixpence for an eight hour day). The line was completed as far as Teepookana by 1896.

The Abt railway was hailed as one of the greatest engineering feats of its day. Many cuttings, up to 20 m deep, were laboriously hewn by pick and shovel. The line was 34 km long and had 48 wooden trestle bridges, the longest being the Quarter Mile Bridge (nearly 250m long), an hours walk from Teepookana. A steel girder soon replaced the original timber span. Trains crossed the bridge at a walking pace as any speed above this caused the bridge to sway dangerously.

From the time that work commenced on the track, til 1899 when the track was extended 11 kilometres to Regatta Point, Teepookana was a hive of activity. During the last years of the nineteenth century it was the fourth busiest port in Tasmania. At its peak, Teepookana was home to about 200 people. Most residents were railway workers.

Situated at the highest navigable point of the river, the township acted as a port facility for the Mt Lyell Mining and Railway Company. Two steamers, the Pioneer and Eagle, and over a dozen barges, or ‘lighters’, plied the King River, carrying coal, passengers, goods and mail for shipment by rail to the copper mines, and copper for shipment from the Strahan port facilities.

Buildings comprised a two storey Royal Hotel, bakery, butcher, a police barracks, school, Mt Lyell workshops, stores and goods sheds. Today the remains of the once busy wharf can be seen along the bank below the Iron Bridge, while the six ton steam crane that once hauled copper onto barges now stands outside the Regatta Point Railway Station.

In 1899, the Abt railway was extended a further 11 kilometres to Regatta Point and the following year three kilometres around the bay from Strahan to Regatta Point. With Strahan acting as the port for the Mt Lyell Mining and Railway Company, facilities were translocated from Teepookana to Regatta Point. With the town’s major function now rendered obsolete, the population of Teepookana rapidly declined.  Teepookana, however, did not die completely. The town struggled on until 1963, when the line was closed after 69 years of operation.