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A unique and rare piece of Tasmania's railway history has been put on the market in Cambridge.
The 165-metre long railway tunnel, which once connected Bellerive to Sorell, was built in 1891 to transport goods, services and people.
It was nicknamed the "Idiotic Railway" by many, including vocal antagonists and politicians, in reference to a time when state governments were excessively constructing railways around Tasmania regardless of costs.
The railway tunnel was operational for 34 years between 1892 to 1926.
Eventually road transport replaced it as it was more economical than the railway line, which only once returned a profit.
Current owner Patrick Maguire said he had wanted to turn the tunnel into a distillery and store whisky barrels there, but the costs were going to be too high.
"I'm sort of a bit disappointed in a way because I'd love to develop this property," he said.
"But it's just going to cost us a lot of money to do because we'd have to move the whole distillery to here and build a new building out the front."
Mr Maguire has not always been interested in railway heritage but said that he did appreciate the site's significance.
"I'm a Hobart boy, I grew up here and I've always known this as 'Tunnel Hill' but I'd never seen the tunnel until a few years ago," he said.
"I couldn't believe this was here after all these years I've lived here, and I'd never seen it so I was quite impressed with the whole thing."
The tunnel is now separated in two parts belonging to different owners but has had many uses that the Bellerive Historical Society has documented over the years.
It held storage of defence records for the Anglesea Barracks during WWII, cosmic ray observations were conducted there by the University of Tasmania, and even mushrooms have been grown there.
"It's still in really good nick and it's just interesting to see and to think that this was all created in 1890-odd," Mr Maguire said.
"I don't know how they did it - whether it was pick and shovel or how they managed to do it but it's quite a feat I'd say."
Although he has searched the tunnel far and wide for any remains from the trains and workers, Mr Maguire admitted it was likely any items had already been discovered.
The long-term outlook of the heritage-listed tunnel is unknown, but with preservation of the facade, Mr Maguire is hopeful that it will be put to good use.
"We've kept this, what looks like a jail cell gate, on the front of it basically to keep people out so damage isn't done," he said.
"But being a sandstone facade here and sandstone inside, it sort of looks after itself.
"It would be nice to see it have some good purpose, but that's in the lap of the gods."
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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