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Sandy Hollow to Merriwa - Trail Description



Sandy Hollow to Merriwa

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Type: Rail trail
Location: 100km north west of Newcastle
Start/end: Sandy Hollow to Merriwa
Status: Possible
Length open: 0km
Terrain: Hilly
Best seasons: All
Public transport: Coach
Features: tourist
Contact Region: Country NSW & ACT
Merriwa railway station building (2015)
Merriwa railway station building (2015)
Not yet open



This Trail Is not developed.  It is one of 17 potential Rail Trails in NSW

The Merriwa branch is a short (39km) branch in the central north of NSW.
The section beyond Sandy Hollow was truncated to a siding in 1988. The track beyond has been washed away in several places and would take a good deal of reconstruction if services were ever to resume. The rest of the line is now part of the cross-country line between Gulgong and Muswellbrook. It has been relaid to main-line standards and sees mainly traffic from the coal loader at Ulan.

For further information on what is happening with this potential rail trail, please click on the link below.


The Merriwa Railway Society plans to restore the Station and Yard at Merriwa, plus in future display a selection of Locomotives and Rollingstock. In the Long Term it is hoped that the Society can gain permission to restore a section of the Merriwa Line in order to return trains to the line.

A lot of behind the scenes work is currently taking place in order for the Society to hopefully achieve its long term goals. There are many processes to go through so it will not happen overnight.

In 2014, the Goods Shed was being prepped for painting the exterior corrugated iron walls, the Station Platform Barge Wall is being replaced, plus continuing mowing, brushcutting and weedspraying within the station precinct.

Background Information

The Merriwa Brach Line was opened in October 1917. The Branch started at Muswellbrook and locomotives were provided at Muswellbrook Loco Depot for all freight and passenger workings. A number of branch line locomotive clases worked the line but over time it was most common to have C30T and D50 class locomtoives working the goods traffic and CPH Railmotors on Passenger duties.

Stations on the Merriwa Line were: Roxburgh, Mangoola, Denman, Myambat, Sandy Hollow, Gungal, Wappinguy and Merriwa. During construction of the section from Denman to Merriwa, Denman had a small loco depot and servicing area and was the terminus from 1915 to 1917. After Merriwa Station was opened, the depot at Denman was closed with the turntable relocated to Merriwa.

Later Years

In 1970 Merriwa was the last  branchline in NSW with steam locomotives in regular service. The last working of CPH Railmotors on pasenger duties on the Merriwa line occured in 1973. From that point only diesel hauled goods trains could be seen on the line.

In the late 1970's a temporary depot was built at Sandy Hollow to house diesel locomotives used during construction of the New line from Sandy Hollow to Ulan and further on to Gulgong. As part of this work the section from Muswellbrook to Sandy Hollow was rebuilt to mainline standard to allow heavy unit coal trains to work to the new Ulan Coal Mine. These trains were usually hauled by the relatively new 81 class Diesel Electric Locomotives, introducted by State Rail from 1982 and coal trains to Ulan commenced running in 1984.

A wheat train at Merriwa in 1988. Photo supplied by Steve Preston.

Closure of the Line

The Merriwa Line was now shortened with a junction arrangement provided at Sandy Hollow. General freight and wheat working continued to Merriwa hauled by 48 class diesels until 1988 when services were suspended. No maintainence work has been carried out on the Sandy Hollow - Merriwa section since. The juction at Sandy Hollow has since been straight railed as part of upgrade work on the Ulan line.


For further information on the situation in NSW click HERE

October 2019

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1 comment

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20 August , 2015 by johnobrien

This would be a great trail for NSW

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