The Zig Zag Railway was first opened in the 1860s as part of the Western Railway line that linked Sydney with Western New South Wales. This railway line was used to transport people and produce from the western plains of NSW to and from Sydney.

In 1910, a ten tunnel deviation was completed and the Great Lithgow Zig Zag closed and the original formation was declared as a reserve by the Crown.

In the early 1970s, a group of volunteers founded the Zig Zag Railway Co-Op – a voluntary, not for profit organisation. The volunteers began to relay the track and acquire locomotives and rollingstock with the idea of restarting passenger services. The Zig Zag Railway Co-Op carried the first passengers in 1975 between Top Points and Bottom Points.

In 1988, the Railway was extended to Clarence, with the assistance of a Bicentenary grant and supplemented the steam train services with diesel railmotors on weekdays.

Unfortunately in 2012, the railway was forced to close due to rising costs and the increasingly complex regulatory requirements of operating a railway. Following the closure, two significant bushfires and a flood devastated the railway and left the volunteers with an enormous challenge.

Volunteers have been working tirelessly, since 2012 to return the railway to revenue services. This work has seen the restoration of locomotives, passenger carriages and all 11 kilometres of track. The re-opening is scheduled for 2022.