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Katherine Rail Trail - Trail Description



Katherine Rail Trail

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Type: Rail trail
Location: Katherine, 320km from Darwin
Start/end: Katherine Station to Morey Rd
Status: Open
Length open: 6km
Surface: Sealed
Terrain: Flat
Best seasons: Both seasons
Public transport: Coach
Features: tourist
Contact Region: Northern Territory
The bridge over the Katherine River (Garry Long 2018)
The bridge over the Katherine River (Garry Long 2018)
Suitable for walking Suitable for cycling mountain bikes Suitable for cycling touring hybrid bikes Suitable for wheelchairs Suitable for prams Suitable for scooters in line skates



  • A high standard rail trail with the centrepiece being the high bridge acrossthe Katherine River.
  • Follow the route of the historic former North Australian Railway, where considerable effort has gone into preserving remaining infrastructure
  • Links with the seven kilometre Katherine River cycle path, the 12 kilometre path to the RAAF Base Tindal, and those around the town.


  • This rail trail begins at the former Katherine railway station. After crossing the historic Katherine River railway bridge the trail borders the Stuart Highway, for 5.2km to Morey Rd on a new section opened in 2011..
  • The centre of the trail is the former railway station and the nearby impressive bridge over the Katherine River. The station has several reminders of its past days and a steam locomotive is on display near the bridge.

Interpretive signs along the path highlight the history of the railway and the old Emungalan Cemetery. Before the Katherine River railway bridge was built, the town of Emungalan (north of Katherine) was the railway terminus.

At several locations the trail deviates from the formation to preserve the rails and Carnegie steel sleepers as heritage features. Railway culverts and bridges have been retained. Part of the path—including a bridge—has been decked in steel mesh so the rails and three different types of sleepers are visible to users. Solar powered lights have been installed over the bridge.

Two shelters on the path will house information panels about the railway and the limestone topography over which it passes.

Background Information

The first section of the narrow gauge North Australia Railway from Darwin to Pine Creek opened in 1888.  It was extended south to Katherine in 1926 and finally Larrimah in 1929, which was as far south as it got, never linking up to the Adelaide to Alice Springs railway.  Nevertheless it played a vital role in the development of the Northern Territory and Australia during the second world war.  However once the war was over improving roads and its isolation resulted in the railway being closed in 1976.

The new standard gauge Alice Springs - Darwin railway opened in 2004 and parts of the new railway were placed on the old North Australia Railway alignment. However some parts of the old line were bypassed, including that in Katherine allowing construction of this rail trail.

The bridge was opened to the public in 2007 and the 5km section of trail north of the bridge opened  in 2011.


The rail trail is managed by the Department of Lands and Planning. Please report any issues at or phone 8924 7531.


November 2011

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