The proposed 3.5-kilometre link, dubbed the Fernleigh Awabakal Shared Track, will run from the Belmont end of the Fernleigh Track to an existing shared pathway at Blacksmiths, creating a 27-kilometre continuous cycleway from Murrays Beach to Adamstown.
It will allow cyclists to avoid riding along the narrow shoulder of the Pacific Highway between Blacksmiths and the Fernleigh Track in Belmont, a route which has been identified by the Newcastle Cycleways Movement as a crucial missing link and one of its top priorities for cycling infrastructure in the region.
While the new link will not follow the route of any previous rail lines, it will add to the attraction of the existing 16km Fernleigh Track which runs along the route of an abandoned colliery railway and was opened in stages between 2003 and 2011. The Fernleigh Track is owned and managed by the councils of Newcastle City and Lake Macquarie.
Lake Macquarie mayor Kay Fraser has been quoted as saying that more than 200,000 people a year use the existing Fernleigh Track. It can only be expected that an additional attractive cycle route will see increased usage by both locals and visitors.