Map Legend:

  • Rail Trail
  • On Road
  • Possible Rail Trail
  • Other Trail
  • former Railway
This great trail follows a historic former railway route through lovely rainforest inside the World Heritage Area.

Attractions

Kelly Basin and Pillinger are historic town sites on the shores of Macquarie Harbour.

Trail Guide

  • This great trail follows a historic former railway route through lovely rainforest inside a World Heritage Area.
  • Kelly Basin and Pillinger are historic town sites on the shores of Macquarie Harbour.
  • A 5km section from the Bird River turnoff to Bird River is suitable for 4WD and bicycles.
  • From Bird River the trail is for walking only.
  • Allow a full day for the walk to Pillinger.

Background Information

Traditional Owners

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

Rail line history

The North Mount Lyell Railway was built to operate between the North Mount Lyell mine in West Coast Tasmania and Pillinger in the Kelly Basin of Macquarie Harbour.

It was built mainly to transport ore from Gormanston east of the West Coast Range to the Crotty smelters.

The line was also opened for passengers in December 1900.  Stopping points were Gormanston junction, King River and Ten Mile.  A small rail motor was utilised in the last years of operation.

Due to failure of the Crotty smelters and the North Mount Lyell operations in general, and the amalgamation of the Mount Lyell and North Mount Lyell mines and companies, the railway had a short operational life.  It closed to passengers in July 1924 and closed in 1929.

The railway bridge at the King River, and the old rail formation were utilised right up to the damming of the River and the creation of Lake Burbury by the Hydro Electric Commission in the 1980s. The railway formation between the Linda Valley and the old locality of Darwin is now under water.

 

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Map Legend:

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

Trail only accessible when the power station is staffed. Usually Mondays to Thursdays (approx 9am to 4pm). Visitors should report to the power station before starting the walk.

This trail runs along the maintenance tramway and walkway beside the timber pipeline from Lake Margaret to the nearby power station. After a very steep climb to the start of the tramway, it follows the timber pipeline to Lake Margaret, providing panoramic views along the way. The historic hydro-electric power station still uses alternators dating from when it was commissioned in 1914. The 1938 King Billy Pine timber pipeline was in use until 30 June 2006 when its deteriorating condition resulted in the station's closure. A new pipeline has now been constructed, once again out of local timber, and the power station is once again operating, Hydro Tasmania do not publicise the walk, but local staff may allow access on request, subject to works that may be occurring. The access road to the power station is gated and only accessible when the power station is staffed. For further information phone Hydro Tasmania’s Tullah office on 03 6420 4002. Short tours of the power station are generally available on request and are well worthwhile. Hydro Tasmania have been working with Tourism Tasmania and West Coast Council to come up with some tourism strategies that can safely mix tourist access around operational hydro assets. More information on the future of the power station and tramway can be found at Hydro Tasmania’s Lake Margaret Redevelopment webpage. For more information on this trail see the book Rail Trails of Tasmania.

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Lake Margaret (Tas) Hydro Power Station Closure

Posted: 01/08/06

The tramway and pipeline. Photo Credit: Alexander McCooke ...

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Map Legend:

  • Rail Trail
  • On Road
  • Possible Rail Trail
  • Other Trail
  • former Railway
Until the construction of the Murchison Highway in 1962, there were no roads to Tullah. The town’s only connection with the outside world was the Tullah Tramway. Lake Rosebery now covers much of the old tramway formation but a short section can be walked on the northern side of the lake starting at the Lake Rosebery Water Ski Club on Pieman Road.   For more information on this trail see the book Rail Trails of Tasmania.  

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Map Legend:

  • Rail Trail
  • On Road
  • Possible Rail Trail
  • Other Trail
  • former Railway
A delightful trail, running through lush rainforest to the site of the Magnet Mine. The mine site has good places to camp and relics to explore. The trail begins 1.75km west of Waratah at the local tip. The trail follows the route of the former Magnet Tramway, built in 1901 to carry silver-lead ore from the Magnet Mine. For more information on this trail see the book Rail Trails of Tasmania.  

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Map Legend:

  • Rail Trail
  • On Road
  • Possible Rail Trail
  • Other Trail
  • former Railway
The bustling tourist town of Strahan lies on the northern end of Macquarie Harbour. The trail follows the foreshore, offering wonderful views of the historic town and its harbour. Now a fully sealed, concrete trail, it follows the former railway that connected the Abt rack railway from Queenstown with the main line north to Zeehan and Burnie. The Abt railway is now an operational tourist railway which operates daily.

Attractions

Strahan has many wonderful attractions and activities for visitors.  Some are listed here

Strahan is the departure point for the West Coast Wilderness Railway

Franklin–Gordon Wild Rivers National Park

Boat cruises provide an unforgettable journey through World Heritage Wilderness of the Gordon River.

Nearby, in Macquarie Harbour is Sarah Island, once a notorious convict prison

There are long stretches of wild ocean beach to explore with massive sand dunes

Take a 30-min walk (one way) to Hogarth Falls and go platypus spotting

 

Background Information

Traditional Owners

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

Rail line history

The railway was built from Queenstown to Strahan by the Mount Lyell Mining Co. which  began operations in November 1892. The railway officially opened in 1897, and again on 1 November 1899 when the line was extended from Teepookana to Regatta Point and Strahan.

Due to the extremely rugged terrain and lack of roads at the time, the railway was the only way to get copper from the mine at Queenstown to markets.

The railway utilised the Abt rack and pinion system for steep sections. Because of the steep gradients and many tight turns, the chosen gauge was the narrow 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm)

The original line continued into the Mount Lyell mining operations area in Queenstown, and at Regatta Point the line linked around the foreshore of Strahan to link with the Government Line to Zeehan.

The railway ceased operation on 10 August 1963 due to increasing maintenance costs and the improvement of road access to the West Coast from the north with the opening of the Murchison Highway. The last train run was hauled by the same locomotive that ran the first service (no.1 in 1896 was the first engine to steam into Queenstown). The rail and other movable items were lifted taken off-site, leaving most of the bridges intact.

Despite various proposals post 1963, it was not until the 1990s some very committed local West Coast people campaigned for the restoration of the Abt Railway as a heritage tourist attraction featuring the unique rail system and the community’s mining history.

The restoration of the Abt Railway was made possible through the allocation of $20 million from the Federal Government’s Prime Minister’s Federal Fund, with further funding from the State Government and some private investment.

The restored railway commenced operations on 27 December 2002 as the Abt Wilderness Railway, with the new terminus in Queenstown. The station at Regatta Point terminus has been renovated.

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Map Legend:

  • Rail Trail
  • On Road
  • Possible Rail Trail
  • Other Trail
  • former Railway
The main road between Zeehan and Strahan follows the route of a former railway for most of its length. The level gradients of the road are typical of a railway. 15km south of Zeehan, an unsignposted 4WD track leads west, close to the Badger River. This track follows the former railway easement for 5km while the road here takes to higher ground. Take care: after 5km the track stops abruptly at the top of a steep ravine, where there was once a railway bridge. On the other side, the railway continued a further 1km before rejoining the alignment of the road. A compaign is in place to keep the old formation clear of scrub but this should not be relied up on. please travel with care.   For more information on this trail see the book Rail Trails of Tasmania.

Attractions

This is an historical route followed by car for 51km.

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Map Legend:

  • Rail Trail
  • On Road
  • Possible Rail Trail
  • Other Trail
  • former Railway
This trail follows four connected disused mining tramways, one with a tunnel.  

Trail Guide

Traffic management has changed on approach to this trail since the 2003 Tasmanian Rail Trail guide book was produced.

After driving past the golf course from Zeehan, you can no longer drive straight through the tunnel. You must turn left and drive down what was previously a one way road to access the new parking area at the southern end of the tunnel and come back the same way.

A line of bollards now separates the gravel car park from the tunnel and a neatly grassed picnic ground surrounding a plaque describing the history of mining in that area. A timber walkway leads you from the picnic ground, through the tunnel to the road at the northern end.

Part way along the car park access road is a track which lets you continue to Comstock by 4WD or bicycle, or on foot.

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Map Legend:

  • Rail Trail
  • On Road
  • Possible Rail Trail
  • Other Trail
  • former Railway
  • This is a bit of an adventure trail for walkers and mountain bikers wanting to do some exploring.
  • The trail is relatively isolated, not used extensively and poorly sign posted. Riders must be self supported.
  • Sections of this trail are excellent and located in a beautiful environment, particularly in summer.
  • Has links to Montezuma Falls and Williamsford thereby extending the cycling experience.

Attractions

West Coast Pioneers Memorial Museum

Trail Guide

Access Points

Zeehan and Melba Flats

Section Guides

  • From Zeehan, trails are accessible from the east end of Robinson Street. The trail to the north and west is slightly easier to find and has a reasonable timber bridge crossing of Parting Creek (some planks were missing). There is a low level rocky causeway crossing beside it too (conditions unknown after heavy rain; use caution with either route). The track to the south and east can be found by heading SE over a mound near the end of Robinson Street. It then sets off in an easterly direction before turning NE parallel to the other. However, near the start this trail is overgrown with gorse, and there is no good crossing of Parting Creek. There is a good connection point between the two trails NE of Parting Creek. It is recommended to start on the NW trail and then pick one beyond that. From there both trails continue straight and in close proximity for several kms.
  • Near the middle of the trail, south of the Henty River, the lines turn north. This area was not inspected – however from Google Maps the western path appears overgrown, while the eastern path looks to be more easily passable.
  • From the Melba Flats end, the North East Dundas Tramway can be picked up on the western side of the Murchison Highway, about 500m south of the sign for the tramway to Montezuma Falls (refer to Montezuma Falls Rail Trail description). The trail heads SW then turns NW. After around 900m it passes under a railway bridge (assumed to be that of the Emu Bay Railway). On the western side of the bridge a path can be found that takes the rider across a creek and up onto the Emu Bay Railway easement. From the junction it appears that either trail could be followed in a westerly direction to the middle of the trails described above. (The mountainbiking site above supports this view.)

Background Information

Traditional Owners

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

Development and future of the trail

Two different railways used to run parallel and in close proximity to each other between Zeehan and Melba Flats. One was the 2 foot gauge government-owned North East Dundas Tramway which continued to Williamsford (believed to be to the north and west). The other was the 3ft 6in gauge railway to Burnie on the north coast, operated by the Emu Bay Railway Company (to the south and east). Today, the easements of these lines form an excellent walking and mountain bike trail which passes through open grasslands. Wildflowers are abundant in summer.

Trails were inspected from either end (not the middle) in December 2019. They appear to be passable with an element of exploration, and would be best suited to a mountain bike. The TassieTrails Mountain Biking in Tasmania website also describes use of these trails to get to Melba Flats and then beyond to Montezuma Falls and Williamsford – a great 56km return ride.

Rail line history

The initial surveying of the North East Dundas Tramway was initiated in 1895, and the first section was being used by 1897. The line was used to carry ore from the Williamsford mines to Zeehan. The official opening of the tramway from Zeehan to Williamsford (Where the car park area for Montezuma Falls is situated) took place in 1898.

The tramway used a narrow gauge of rail, which is why it was regarded as a tram line, and not a rail line.   The narrow-gauge (2 ft) was chosen because of the extremely difficult terrain that the railway crossed, requiring several big trestle bridges, including the 48 metre long one at the foot of Montezuma Falls.  After heavy rain, the engine and carriages would get soaked by spray from the falls.

There was a break-of-gauge with the mainline 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) system at Zeehan. The railway was closed in 1932.

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Map Legend:

  • Rail Trail
  • On Road
  • Possible Rail Trail
  • Other Trail
  • former Railway
This trail features the 105m high Montezuma Falls. Traversing lush rainforest with leatherwood, myrtle and sassafras, the trail follows the route of the former North East Dundas Tramway which ran from Zeehan to Williamsford. Williamsford was once a busy mining town but is now slowly being reclaimed by the bush. The trail is in two sections: walking and cycling is allowed on the 5.5km from Williamsford to the falls; 4WD vehicles are allowed on the 14km between the Melba Flats and the falls. This trail connects with the 9 km Melba Flats to Zeehan Rail Trail at Melba Flats

Attractions

  • 105m high Montezuma Falls
  • Lush rainforest with Leatherwood, Myrtle, Sassafras
  • Williamsford mining town ruins

Trail Guide

Access Points

Williamsford and Melba Flats

Section Guides

Section guides

Williamsford to Montezuma Falls

  • The start of the trail is well marked at Williamsford. After 500m, a track on the right leads to the original tramway formation. The trail then descends gently to the Montezuma Falls. Just before the falls, look for an old mining adit driven into the exposed rock face to your left. Soon after you will hear the falls cascading over the rocky tiers. To get to the falls, follow a track to the left just before the bridge. Take extra care as it can be wet and slippery.
  • A 50m long curved trestle bridge once carried the railway over the creek and past the Montezuma Falls. A new steel suspension bridge now allows trail users to cross the valley. Remains of the original timber bridge can still be seen on the other side of the creek. From the falls either return to Williamsford the same way or cross the footbridge and continue to Melba Flats 14km away.

Montezuma Falls to Melba Flats

  • Shortly after crossing the bridge you come to a car park. From here the old tramway formation is used by 4WDs and can be wet and muddy in places. After about 4km you reach the turnoff and another 4WD road, the Ring River Track. Continue straight ahead along the rail trail. You have to cross several creeks with long gone timber bridges, so expect to get wet feet.
  • Other mining and logging tramways intersected the trail at various points along this section of the trail and you can still see their formations if you look carefully.
  • 14kms from Montezuma Falls, at Melba Flats, you reach the Murchison Highway (A10). You can return to the start of the trail the same way or take the highway north back to Williamsfords. If you are keen, continue to Zeehan via the Melba Flats to Zeehan Rail Trail.

Background Information

Traditional Owners

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

Development and future of the trail

Funding had been announced some years ago to extend the rail trail another 42km back to Lilydale and potentially all the way back to Launceston linking with the Rocherlea Rail Trail and the Launceston urban cycling network.

At the time of writing, the planned extension to Lilydale is being challenged by a Heritage rail group wanting to establish tourist rail services on the old line all the way to Scottsdale. Another government inquiry into the feasibility of this proposal had recommended a compromise with the Heritage Rail group being given access to a short section from Turners Marsh to Lilydale, while the longer section from Lilydale Falls to Scottsdale be developed as a recreational trail for walkers and cyclists but any progress remains stalled.

Many would also like to see the trail continue a further 2km from Tulendeena/Billycock Hill down to the township of Legerwood and then another 10km onto Branxholm via the old rail corridor.

Branxholm has a new, easily ridden 8km cycle trail connection – the Valley Ponds trail – linking it to the mountain bike mecca of Blue Derby with trails suitable for all levels of MTB ability. The small, once dying towns of Branxholm and Derby have taken on a new lease of life and are now thriving with the influx of cyclists to these magnificent trails.

Rail line history

The initial surveying of the North East Dundas Tramway was initiated in 1895, and the first section was being used by 1897. The line was used to carry ore from the Williamsford mines to Zeehan. The official opening of the tramway from Zeehan to Williamsford (Where the car park area for Montezuma Falls is situated) took place in 1898.

The tramway used a narrow gauge of rail, which is why it was regarded as a tram line, and not a rail line.   The narrow-gauge (2 ft) was chosen because of the extremely difficult terrain that the railway crossed, requiring several big trestle bridges, including the 48 metre long one at the foot of Montezuma Falls.  After heavy rain, the engine and carriages would get soaked by spray from the falls.

There was a break-of-gauge with the mainline 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) system at Zeehan. The railway was closed in 1932.

No services listed for this rail trail.

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