Lou Rae has had a strong interest in the West Coast of lutruwita/Tasmania since the mid-1970s. Since 1983, he has written nine books on Tasmanian railways, mining, tourism and industrial heritage.
In 1991, Lou was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to study railway tourism and heritage in the UK. He worked as a land valuer and economist and was Tasmanian Valuer-General from 2000–2007. He completed a Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Tasmania in 2004, his topic being about Mt Lyell Mining and the local railway company's isolation, innovation and domination of the region.