Map Legend:

  • Rail Trail
  • On Road
  • Possible Rail Trail
  • Other Trail
  • former Railway

No services listed for this rail trail.

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Map Legend:

  • Rail Trail
  • On Road
  • Possible Rail Trail
  • Other Trail
  • former Railway
  • A great future rail trail in the Newcastle area
  • Possible 32 km of trail through rugged terrain 
  • Three brick-lined tunnels 
  • Railway infrastructure including bridges, deep cuttings, and huge embankments 
  • Would link Newcastle with Kurri Kurri, Cessnock and eventually Pokolbin
  • This trail could link up with many other cycle paths in Newcastle and the Pokolbin wineries
  • Parts of the corridor are heavily and illegally abused by 4WD vehicles and dirt bikes, degrading both heritage features and environment

Attractions

  • Close to Newcastle. Its proposed eastern terminus is at Shortland Waters, about 15 km by bicycle from the city centre.
  • The proposed western terminus is at Tree of Knowledge Park in Kurri Kurri.
  • There is a Railway Heritage Museum at Richmond Vale.
  • The route traverses the base of Mt Sugarloaf, and includes three tunnels.
  • It offers the chance to visit little-seen areas in dense bush.
  • Hexham Swamp is a large wetlands area before the village of Minmi.
  • City of Newcastle plans to build an 8 km trail along the Chichester Dam pipeline easement to Thornton as part of the overall project, plus connections to Minmi.

 

Trail Guide

This old private railway corridor has great possibilities as a rail trail. The trail would start at Hexham and traverse a large wetlands area before approaching the village of Minmi. The line then branches off westward toward Richmond Vale Colliery and Kurri Kurri. 

A short distance past the Pacific Highway underpass is the first tunnel, in the Seahampton area. There are deep cuttings and more tunnels before the junction to Kurri Kurri. Richmond Main Colliery is now closed, but the Richmond Vale Steam Society has a wonderful collection of engines, carriages and other railway memorabilia on display on the third Sunday of each month.

Hexham to Minmi Junction (5 km)

Minmi Junction to Richmond Vale Junction (16 km)

Richmond Vale Junction to Richmond Vale Colliery (3 km)

Important note: This rail trail is not yet open. The alignment is on private property. Trespassing on the alignment is not permitted.  

Background Information

Traditional owners

We acknowledge the Awabakal and Darkinjung people, the traditional custodians of the land and waterways on which the rail trail will be built.

Development and future of the rail trail

Since the line closed in 1987, the Newcastle Cycleways Movement has worked closely with Newcastle and other councils to make this trail a reality. A separate supporters group has also been formed, and is working with tourism authorities, local businesses and institutions to formulate destination strategies and management plans.

The aim is to eventually link Newcastle (including the CBD and University) with the towns of Kurri Kurri and Cessnock, and ultimately the vineyards of Pokolbin in the Hunter Valley – a distance of more than 60 km. The combination of terrains and environments, the area’s history, the challenging distance and the major destinations at each end would provide a substantial basis for a community asset, providing transport, tourism, recreation, environmental and heritage values.

Recent developments provide greater confidence that the rail trail may yet be built. A large portion of the land owned by Coal and Allied Operations Ltd, including most of the length of railway easement, has been transferred to NSW Government ownership and designated as conservation lands administered by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).

NPWS now supports the establishment of the Richmond Vale Rail Trail. Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and Cessnock councils all support the development in principle, as do many other stakeholders such as the University of Newcastle’s Tom Farrell Institute for the Environment, State and local tourism bodies and many Hunter Valley vintners.

The City of Newcastle, with contributions from these supporters and from the Donaldson Coal Conservation Trust, commissioned a design and environmental study to examine the requirements for construction and approvals. A development application for the Newcastle section has been exhibited, and will likely be approved in 2021. Cessnock and Lake Macquarie councils are jointly working on their own development application, and expect to exhibit this year as well. With approved applications in hand, these councils will seek funding from State and federal governments.

This project is building serious momentum. The success of rail trail developments elsewhere in Australia, the Central Otago Rail Trail in New Zealand, and many trails overseas are inspiring examples of what can be achieved by concerted effort to preserve these historic lines by restoring them to a modern purpose. This line will never haul coal, people or other commodities again; nevertheless, the prospect of tourists being able to ride almost all the way from Newcastle to the vineyards on a safe, scenic and historic track may be closer than you think!

Rail line history

The company formed by James and Alexander Brown, immigrants from Scotland who arrived as young men to New South Wales in 1842, became what was undoubtedly the premier coal mining venture in the first hundred years of the colony. 

In 1857, John Eales completed a railway line from his mine in Minmi to the banks of the Hunter River at Hexham, where the coal was loaded on to ocean-going vessels. The 6.4 km crossing of the Hexham Swamp by this 10 km line was considered a major feat of engineering in its day. 

The discovery of a large coal seam at Richmond Vale Colliery (later renamed Richmond Main) to the west of Minmi across the Sugarloaf Range, resulted in a 19 km extension to the Hexham to Minmi line being built; this became known as the Richmond Vale Railway.

The new line was completed in 1905. It branched from the old line a few km north of Minmi (Minmi Junction), crossed Blue Gum Creek and traversed three tunnels on its way through the Sugarloaf Range to Richmond Vale. It was eventually extended to Pelaw Main near Kurri Kurri, and branch lines were built to carry coal from other mines in the region.

Richmond Vale Railway operated continuously for 83 years, and when it closed in 1987 was the last commercial steam-operated freight line in Australia. The closure of the Richmond Vale line signalled the end of an era in Australian railways.

As with most of the railways abandoned over the past 100 years, the Richmond Vale line has become derelict, its timber trestles falling into disrepair or collapsed. The three original tunnels, however, are in remarkably good shape and are a testament to the men who built them.

 

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Next stage in development of the Richmond Vale Rail Trail near Newcastle

Posted: 17/08/20

The proposed Richmond Vale Rail Trail (RVRT) near Newcastle NSW would be a wonderful rail ...

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Cessnock City Council Trails Strategy recognises value of colliery rail network

Posted: 23/06/20

Cessnock City Council (CCC) recently released their Trails Strategy. The Strategy was developed by CCC ...

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NSW continues the momentum for developing cycling facilities

Posted: 19/06/20

Lake Macquarie and Newcastle City Councils are showing what can be done when it comes ...

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NSW is getting closer to having another rail trail

Posted: 04/05/20

The NSW Government Department of Planning, Industry and Environment has announced a $75,000 funding boost towards ...

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Richmond Vale Rail Trail takes a step closer to reality

Posted: 23/03/16

The much-vaunted $14 million Richmond Vale Rail Trail is a step closer to reality, with Newcastle ...

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Richmond Vale Rail Trail moves to the next step of Development

Posted: 13/01/16

A local committee has been working on the proposed Richmond Vale Rail Trail (RVRT) between ...

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Map Legend:

  • Rail Trail
  • On Road
  • Possible Rail Trail
  • Other Trail
  • former Railway
  • This is a new high quality rail trail featuring a variety of landscapes from suburbia to dense bushland.
  • The trail links to other cycleways that give mainly traffic-free access to Newcastle’s university, city and other suburbs.
  • The rail trail is gently graded.
  • Preserved railway memorabilia at Wallsend Station site

Attractions

  • Newcastle City
  • Beaches
  • Fort Scratchley 

 

Trail Guide

Major access points:

  • Glendale – Frederick St North (Parking at TAFE)
  • Wallsend – Cowper St car park
  • Birmingham Gardens – Blue Gum Rd and Wilkinson Ave
  • Jesmond – Illoura St and Newcastle Rd
  • Lambton – Howe St West

Section Guides

Glendale to Wallsend (4.5 km)

The trail climbs on a slight gradient through bushland, then runs through grassland behind retirement villages.

  • From the north end of Frederick St head north from Glendale TAFE car park to the trailhead, the trail winds over gentle hills and through the tunnel beneath Newcastle Link Rd.

Wallsend to Jesmond (3.5 km)

This section is basically flat and passes two suburban shopping centres. It follows the line of disused colliery rail lines and the tramway. It runs along a suburban street before crossing Newcastle Rd at traffic lights.

  • Take care crossing roads at Wallsend and at Jesmond.
  • Note the restored railway shed and old coal wagon at Wallsend.

Jesmond to Lambton (2 km)

After crossing a busy road you enter quiet Jesmond Park, following a long embankment before climbing over a low section of Lambton Hill at Howe St traffic lights.

  • Take care crossing Robinson Ave, especially if approaching downhill.
  • This ride can be extended picking up cycleways that pass through Broadmeadow parks and through Islington to Carrington then along the waterfront to the lighthouse at Nobbys. The line also connects to the University of Newcastle via a powerline easement and University Drive.

Background Information

Traditional Owners

We acknowledge the Awabakal people, the traditional custodians of the land and waterways on which the rail trail is built.

Railway history

This trail follows a tram route that went from Newcastle to Wallsend from 1910 to 1930.

The tramway opened in 1910 as part of the longest line of Newcastle’s extensive tramways, featuring steam-driven trams that ran down suburban streets and into bushland. The terminus was at West Wallsend, a coal-mining village 20 km from Newcastle. A branch line also reached Speers Point, Lake Macquarie, a popular picnic venue for Newcastle residents. The electrification of the Newcastle tram system reached Wallsend in 1926; steam trams were uneconomical and lines beyond Wallsend closed in 1930. Place names such as Plattsburg and Young Wallsend have disappeared along with most evidence of this line.

 

No services listed for this rail trail.

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NSW continues the momentum for developing cycling facilities

Posted: 19/06/20

Lake Macquarie and Newcastle City Councils are showing what can be done when it comes ...

More...

Glendale to Wallsend Rail Trail Opening

Posted: 14/06/12

The $1.5 million Wallsend to Glendale shared pathway was officially opened on Friday 1 June 2012. The NSW ...

More...

Map Legend:

  • Rail Trail
  • On Road
  • Possible Rail Trail
  • Other Trail
  • former Railway
This potential 10km rail trail would be a useful link between the small village of Awaba with its station on the Sydney-Newcastle rail line, and Wangi Wangi and other lake-side suburbs on the western shores of Lake Macquarie. Its eastern end would be the disused and state heritage listed Wangi Wangi Power Station. On the way it passes through attractive bush and some deep cuttings.

Attractions

The major attraction of the trail, apart from the features en-route, is the lake-side suburbs of western Lake Macquarie and opportunities for water based recreation, sightseeing and dining.

Trail Guide

The trail would commence south west of the existing Awaba Railway Station. From there it quickly enters the bushland which is typical of the trail. Awaba Colliery site is reached after approximately 1km. There are several deep cuttings along the route.

At approximately 9km, or 1km from the eastern end at Wangi Wangi Power Station, the line passed over Wangi Road on a bridge which has since been removed.

Important note: This rail trail is not yet open. Much of the alignment is Crown Land.

Background Information

Traditional owners

We acknowledge the Awabakal  people, the traditional custodians of the land on which the rail trail is located.

Development and future of the rail trail

Development of the rail trail is greatly dependent on any development and reuse of the Wangi Wangi Power Station and/or surrounding areas. While developments have been proposed, it appears that these are still some way off. Lake Macquarie City Council considers the route to be a lower priority than many other potential cycle facilities in the LGA and there is no known local group actively pushing for this trail.

Rail line history 

The line, which is a spur on the Sydney-Newcastle rail line, serviced the state heritage listed Wangi Wangi Power Station. It opened in 1954, the last train ran in 1972 and it was decommissioned in 1989. The power station itself operated between 1956 and 1986 and at one stage was the largest power station in New South Wales. Awaba State Coal Mine (later Awaba Colliery, now closed) on route supplied the power station. Much of the route is understood to be Crown Lands. 

No services listed for this rail trail.

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Map Legend:

  • Rail Trail
  • On Road
  • Possible Rail Trail
  • Other Trail
  • former Railway
  • A high quality rail trail featuring a variety of landscapes from suburbia to bushland
  • Connects Fassifern railway station on the Central Coast and Newcastle line with the suburb of Toronto and the Lake Macquarie shore
  • Gently graded: a comfortable flat ride or walk with bay views
  • Old railway tracks still in place next to trail
  • Accessed from Fassifern railway station
  • Rail museum at Toronto railway station

Attractions

  • Newcastle, with Fort Scratchley and beaches 
  • Lake Macquarie, with lakeside cycle paths

 

Trail Guide

This is a short railside trail next to a disused government railway line. The line branched off from Fassifern Railway Station and has not been used since 1990.

Access points

  • Fassifern Railway Station
  • Blackalls Reserve
  • Toronto Railway station site
  • Regular local bus service between Toronto and Fassifern Railway stations for those who wish to walk the trail one way.

Fassifern to Toronto (4km)

  • comfortable, flat ride or walk from Fassifern Railway Station to Edward Gain Park in Toronto on the western foreshore of Lake Macquarie
  • well signposted with several road crossings
  • managed by Lake Macquarie Council
  • Lake Macquarie and District Historical Society uses the renovated Toronto Railway Station building as its base

Background Information

Traditional Owners

We acknowledge the Awabakal people, the traditional custodians of the land and waterways on which the rail trail is built.

Railway history

The railway was built by a private company in 1891 but was taken over by the NSW Government in 1910. Operations ceased in 1990; the rails are still in place, though the railway was officially closed in 1995.

The local progress association raised the greenway concept in 1990, which led to the formation of a steering committee of Lake Macquarie City Council. The corridor was leased by the Council from the State Government, and the steering committee set about raising funds for construction and landscaping of the trail. Most funding came from the Federal and State Governments, with other funding coming from Council and the community. The trail was officially opened in June 1996, after six years of local effort to retain the disused rail corridor as a community asset.

No services listed for this rail trail.

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Map Legend:

  • Rail Trail
  • On Road
  • Possible Rail Trail
  • Other Trail
  • former Railway
The 16 km Fernleigh Track between Adamstown and Belmont on the coastal fringe of Newcastle is a high-quality rail trail running through quiet bushland and suburban landscapes. A major feature is the 180 m curved brick-lined Fernleigh Tunnel beneath the Pacific Highway. The Fernleigh Track has public transport access at Adamstown, and access points at Whitebridge, Redhead, Jewells and Belmont have car parks. It is a very popular rail trail and a visit is easily combined with a short side trip to Redhead Beach. The trail is being extended south by Lake Macquarie council in the Fernleigh Awabakal Shared Track project, and will eventually connect to Blacksmiths and Swansea.

Attractions

The Newcastle region offers a large range of opportunities for visitors: 

  • The region has many historic sights.
  • The harbourfront of Newcastle has been transformed into a major tourist venue, with many restaurants and shops.
  • A light rail service connects Newcastle’s main railway station with the whole CBD and the beach.
  • The Hunter Valley northwest of Newcastle is one of Australia’s prime wine production regions.
  • Newcastle has a wide range of accommodation.

Trail Guide

The Fernleigh Track consists of three basic sections: 

Adamstown to Whitebridge (6 km)

Access the trail alongside Adamstown Station on the Newcastle Central Coast line, or ride in from Newcastle CGD along well-signposted routes. The offroad portion starts at the junction of Park Ave and Bailey St, and climbs on a slight gradient up to the 180m brick lined Fernleigh Tunnel (2.1 km) under the Pacific Highway. (Take care crossing the busy connector between Park Ave and Brisbane Water Road, 700m from the start.) It then runs through bushland in the Glenrock State Recreation Area, before crossing Burwood Road (3.5 km) at traffic signals.

Considerable traces of the original railway and the coal mines it serviced can be found along this stretch, including Kahibah Station (where the trail crosses the Great North Walk). Burwood Colliery Dam, etc. Interpretive signage tells the story of the mines and railway.

Water and toilets are available at Whitebridge Station (5.5 km). This is the peak of the trail profile.

Whitebridge to Redhead (4.5 km)

From Whitebridge the trail gently descends to Redhead through native bush. The restored station platform at Redhead is a major feature of this section. Here ‘up’ and ‘down’ traffic take different sides of the platform!

Turn left at Cowlishaw St (9.5 km) to ride down to Redhead Beach (signposted), for shops and cafes. There is water available at Liles Oval near the turnoff.

Redhead to Belmont (5.5 km)
This section is basically flat and the scenery predominantly coastal bushland, the highlight being the boardwalk across wetlands. Kalaroo Rd must be crossed (11.9 km) just prior to reaching the Jewells Station platform, where water is available. 

The platform and surrounds at Belmont (15.5 km) have had considerable landscaping and interpretive signage.

The rail trail finishes in Railway Parade, a few hundred metres from the picturesque Lake Macquarie harbour at Belmont. Lake Macquarie City is extending the trail to the south towards Blacksmiths, in a project called the Fernleigh Awabakal Shared Track (FAST – under construction). While not a former railway, it will provide off-road access for much of the journey south to the Swansea Bridge (22 km) and Caves Beach (25 km).

Belmont is the best place along the trail to buy refreshments, with a range of places to eat and drink close to that end of the track. There are also shops and cafes at Redhead and Adamstown. 

Section Guides

Adamstown to Whitebridge (6 km)

The trail climbs on a slight gradient passing through the 180 m brick-lined and fully lit Fernleigh Tunnel beneath the Pacific Highway, then runs through bushland in the Glenrock State Recreation Area.

  • From the south side of the Adamstown railway station, head southwest along Park Ave to the roundabout and the start of the trail.
  • Follow the trail through the tunnel and then across Burwood Rd.

Whitebridge to Redhead (4.5 km)

The restored station platform at Redhead is a major feature of this section. Here ‘up’ and ‘down’ traffic take different sides of the platform.

  • From Whitebridge the trail gently descends to Redhead through native bushland.
  • From Collishaw Street it is 1.5 km to Redhead surf beach.

Redhead to Belmont (5.5 km)

This section is basically flat and the scenery predominantly coastal bushland, the highlight being the boardwalk across wetlands. The platform and surrounds at Belmont have had considerable landscaping, making it quite a feature.

  • The rail trail finishes in Railway Pde, a few hundred metres from the picturesque Lake Macquarie harbour at Belmont.
  • From this point, connections can be made south to Swansea and west to the Lake Macquarie shoreline.

Background Information

Traditional owners

We acknowledge the Awabakal people, the traditional custodians of the land and waterways on which the rail trail is built.

 Rail line history

The railway opened in the late 1880s to transport coal from mines in the Lake Macquarie area to the Port of Newcastle. Evidence of some of the mines is still visible from the track. It was also used as a passenger service between Belmont and Newcastle with stations at Kahibah, Whitebridge and Redhead. The last passenger train ran in 1971. Coal mines along the corridor began to close in the 1980s and the line ceased to be used in 1991. Remnants of the former railway are visible all along the Fernleigh Track. 

Newcastle and Lake Macquarie councils purchased the land of the former private coal railway to Belmont and opened the first section of the rail trail, Adamstown-Kahibah (Burwood Rd), in 2003. Stage 3 of the Fernleigh Track from Whitebridge to Redhead opened in 2009. Stage 4 from Redhead to Jewells Station was completed in mid 2010 and the completed rail trail to Belmont was opened in March 2011. The FAST track to Blacksmiths is expected to be completed in 2022.

No services listed for this rail trail.

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