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Copper Rail Trail - Trail Description



Copper Rail Trail

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Type: Rail trail
Location: 100km north of Adelaide
Start/end: Port Wakefield to Leasingham
Status: Open
Length open: 26km
Surface: Compacted earth, Coarse gravel
Terrain: Flat
Best seasons: Autumn and Spring
Public transport: Coach
Contact Region: South Australia
The trail has several sections that are enclosed by native vegetation
The trail has several sections that are enclosed by native vegetation
Suitable for walking Suitable for cycling mountain bikes Suitable for horse riding



  • Bush Track Rail Trail suited to mountain bikes
  • The trail cuts through a dense area of century plant (Agave americana) with 6m high flower stalks
  • Links to Walk the Yorke Walking and cycling trail in Port Wakefield
  • Links to a back-roads trail to the Riesling Trail in the east


The Shamus Liptrot Rail Trail, a distance of 11km from Balaclava to Halbury, forms part of the Copper Rail Trail and is described in more detail in its own webpage on the Rail Trails Australia website.

Start Points

  • Balaklava – good parking is available in Edith Terrace, near shops and amenities, and a short distance from the trail at the junction of Hudson Road and Balaklava Road.
  • Port Wakefield – good parking, cafes and amenities can be found in Port Wakefield. As construction work will commence in the near future on the duplication of the Princess Highway through Port Wakefield it may be worth considering parking near commencement of the path east of the golf course on the Balaklava Road.

The trail could be best described as a bush track rail trail which is suited to mountain bikes. The trail surface varies from rubble /gravel to a formed natural earth surface. It is a trail for the adventurous who enjoy the challenge of riding on a variable surface.

The trail is located between flat, open grain fields. However, thanks to the efforts of the local community who planted the rail reserve with indigenous vegetation 30 years ago, the rail reserve now provides cyclists with protection from the elements and great scenery.

Port Wakefield to Bowmans (10km from the Port Wakefield Golf Course)

The trail will ultimately commence from the commencement point for the Walk the Yorke walking and cycling trail in Port Wakefield however as construction work is about to commence on the duplication of the Highway through Port Wakefield, it is suggested that cyclists should start the trail on the northern side of Balaklava Road just east of the Port Wakefield Golf Course.

This section of trail is flat and has a compacted earth surface. The rail trail corridor has some vegetation and the Council plans to add new planting in the coming years.

Approximately 6km out from Port Wakefield Golf Course the trail passes through a dense planting of Century plants (Agave americana). They are easily recognisable by their long thick tapered dull grey green leaves and 7m tall flower spikes.

A further 2km on from the Century Plants the trail crosses a farm entrance. If you look closely at the rubble surface of the entrance you will be able to see several railway sleepers that were left in place when the rails were removed.

Care should be taken to cross the rail line just prior to reaching Bowmans. This line is a major freight route and carries many high-speed trains per day. The road crossing is to be used to cross the rail line.

Bowmans to Balaklava (15km)

Bowmans was once a thriving but small railway town and many of the original railway houses are still occupied. The Bowmans railway loading platform can be seen on the side of the trail.

There is a noticeable increase in vegetation in the trail corridor as the trail progresses to Balaklava. There are small sections of Old Man Saltbush and Bullock Bush that were once common in this area.

The trail has some sections of compacted earth but is mainly compacted rubble in this section.

A small section of railway line has been retained from Hudson Road to Whitwarta Road on the approach to Balaklava. It is suggested that Balaklava Road be used to enter Balaklava. The original railway turntable can be seen on the corner of Whitwarta Road and Balaklava Road.

Background Information

A private horse drawn tramway was constructed from Port Wakefield to Balaklava and onto Hoyleton in 1869. It was later taken over by the State Government and converted to steam train. The line closed in 1984.

Up until construction of the horse drawn tramway in 1869 the alignment of the line was used (Balaclava to Port Wakefield) by Bullock teams to transport copper from Burra to Port Wakefield

The Copper trail commences at Port Wakefield and extends 26km to Balaklava and continues another 11km to Halbury (also known as the Shamus Liptrot Rail Trail). From Halbury the copper trail follows a signed route along back roads, over the range to Leasingham which is located on the Riesling Trail. The Copper Rail Trail follows an unused rail reserve from Port Wakefield to Halbury, a distance of 37km.


For any issues with this trail, please contact Wakefield Regional Council (phone 08 8862 1115)

Support Services and Attractions

Information is available from Wakefield Regional Council, Scotland Place, Balaklava (phone 08 8862 1115)

August 2020

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New Copper Rail Trail Opened in South Australia

(Posted: 18/07/20)

The Wakefield Regional Council in the mid north of South Australia, has opened the 26km Copper Rail Trail from Port Wakefield to Balaklava. This trail will link with the existing 11km Shamus Liptrot Rail Trail and an 18km trail along backroads to Leasingham on the Riesling Rail Trail.