The Van Diemen Light Railway Society. was formed in December 1971 as a voluntary organisation with the basic aim of preserving a representative selection of former Tasmanian Railway equipment for future generations to enjoy. After much searching for a suitable site the society decided to use the trackbed of the former Melrose line and began trading under the name "The Don River Railway".
The railway was established on the Don site in 1973, and trains commenced running in November 1976, the achievement and result of countless thousands of hours of voluntary labour provided by members of the Van Diemen Railway Society Inc. Their aim was to recreate the atmosphere of a genuine working passenger railway. Enthusiastic support has been received from the Devonport City Council, who own most of the land on which we operate.
The Tasmanian Government has generously assisted us with Tourist Development Grants for sheds and other capital works including the station platforms at Don Village, Coles Beach, and the transfer of the Railway Station from Ulverstone to Don. The Emu Bay Railway Company have donated several items of rolling stock, and The Australian Government, through unemployment relief schemes, have helped us with locomotive and rolling stock restoration, some track work and other labour intensive work.