Margate Train

Did you ever pass by something along the road, kind of wonder what it was, but never stop. That's how it was with the Margate Train. Margate is a little town we pass through along the Channel Highway every time we head to Kingston to grocery shop. The train is not a replica; it's the real thing and every time we went by, we said “We should stop there and see what it is”. But we never did ... until today. Originally known at the Tasman Limited, this 1950 English-built train was used for passenger service between Hobart and Launceston until 1978. In fact, it's listed as the last passenger train in Tasmania. Now it's a side-of-the-road oddity that attracts the attention of passersby who will hopefully stop to check out the shops and restaurants that occupy its carriages.

It was fun exploring every car to see how enterprising and imaginative shopkeepers had used their narrow, limited space to best advantage. There was a used bookshop which was closed up tight. The barbershop was open for business though, a traditional candy-striped pole out front, and a fellow sitting in the chair getting a haircut. I enjoyed the “lollie” shop. In American English, we'd call this a candy store. There was no doubt in my mind what they sold as soon as I walked through the carriage door. All things sugary sweet.

A dining car offered pancake breakfasts and light lunches plus the requisite cuppas if you needed one. A couple of the shops were boutiques with handmade, local crafts on offer. A warehouse across from the train sold mattresses and incongruity in my mind, but folks wandered through. At the end of the train, an old apple-packing shed, the size of a large barn, sold antiques, used furniture and collectibles.

We bought nothing ...not even a lollie … but thoroughly enjoyed the look-see.