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Darwin Rail Trail - Trail Description

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Trail

Darwin Rail Trail

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Type: Rail trail
Location: Darwin
Start/end: Darwin CBD to Coolalinga
Status: Open
Length open: 27.8km
Surface: Sealed
Terrain: Flat
Best seasons: Year round but the dry season (June to August) is cooler
Contact Region: Northern Territory
The trail near Howard Springs (2011)
The trail near Howard Springs (2011)
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
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Details

Features

  • A high standard rail trail that is part of Darwin's extensive network of cycle paths.
  • Follows the route of the historic former North Australian Railway and many reminders of the railway remain.
  • The most intact part of the former rail is a 700 m restored section in The Narrows, about 5km from Darwin CBD

Description

Access Points

The rail trail runs parallel to the Stuart Highway with many access points:

• Darwin CBD – Daly/McMinns St intersection, or at the rear of No. 1 Harvey St
• The Narrows – Bagot Rd link to northern suburbs
• Berrimah – Vanderlin Drive link to northern suburbs
• Pinelands – McMillans Rd link to northern suburbs
• Palmerston – over the shared pedestrian/cycle bridge behind Gateway Shopping Centre (off Roystonea Ave)
• Palmerston – Temple Terrace
• Howard Springs – Howard Springs Rd
• Coolalinga – Grice Crescent

Darwin to The Narrows (4km)

• The start of the rail trail can be accessed from two points – the original entry at Daly and McMinn Sts intersection, or via the underpass of the Stuart Highway (opened in 2010) which can be reached via the new Garramilla Boulevard bike path and Harvey Street. This underpass was the only bridge over the original NAR.
• To take the original rail corridor to The Narrows, follow the signs to Palmerston by crossing the Stuart Highway at the Westralia St lights in Stuart Park.
• By following the signs to Casuarina, a small section of preserved rail can be seen in the garden bed at the intersection of Stuart Hwy and Salonika St, which was part of a spur line to Vestey’s Meatworks. Further on, a short (1 km) detour down Parap Rd to McDonald St will take you to the old Qantas Hangar where you can see the restored and heritage listed Sandfly, the original locomotive used during construction of the railway in 1888. Off Parap Rd is Somerville Gardens and Railway Street where railway workers lived. While none of the original dwellings remain, the Railway Club is located where the original social and workers club was in this street, which is named after James Somerville, a former manager of the railway in 1909. To re-join the rail corridor, cross the Stuart Highway at Parap Rd or Woolner Rd lights.
• In 2006 the Friends of the North Australia Railway (FNAR) restored a 700m section of the original track between Snell St and the Winnellie Post Office and re-sleepered the old bridge (with assistance from Darwin City Council). This section was heritage listed in 2011. A path runs from Snell St to a bus shelter about half way along the track. From here you can easily walk along the verge to view Bridge #4 and an information board. Cross the Stuart Highway at the Post Office lights to re-join the rail corridor and bike path.

The Narrows to Pinelands (10km)

• The rail trail and bike path follows the original rail corridor from The Narrows to Pinelands immediately adjacent to the Stuart Highway, past numerous shops, service stations and the Aviation Heritage Centre, and crosses several arterial roads leading to Darwin’s northern suburbs. Many of the original bridges are easily found along this section, some still with faint numbers (they were numbered consecutively from Port Darwin) e.g. Bridge #8 just before Amy Johnson Drive.
• About 400m before McMillans Rd are the remnants of a loading facility on a siding, used to unload cattle for the Angliss Meatworks between the 1960s to 1976.

Pinelands to Coolalinga (14km)

• This section of the rail trail deviates away from the Stuart Highway following the original railway corridor, and is surrounded by remnant bushland. There are a few path connections to shops in Pinelands, Yarrawonga and Palmerston.
• An interpretative shelter built at Yarrawonga and Howard Springs includes displays of local and railway history.
• Several distance markers have been installed by FNAR along the section of path opened in 2012 (Yarrawonga to Howard Springs).
• The path from Howard Springs to Coolalinga, opened in 2019, has retained three of the original bridges (#20, #21, #22).

Coolalinga is a rural service centre with a small shopping centre and a few cafes on both sides of the Stuart Highway. The former North Australian Railway corridor is largely retained from Coolalinga to as far south as Adelaide River, however no interest to progress the trail beyond Coolalinga has been indicated by local authorities.

·         Darwin CBD – Daly/McMinns St intersection, or at the rear of No. 1 Harvey St

·         The Narrows – Bagot Rd link to northern suburbs

·         Berrimah – Vanderlin Drive link to northern suburbs

·         Pinelands – McMillans Rd link to northern suburbs

·         Palmerston – over the shared pedestrian/cycle bridge behind Gateway Shopping Centre (off Roystonea Ave)

·         Palmerston – Temple Terrace

·         Howard Springs – Howard Springs Rd

Coolalinga – Grice Crescent

Background Information

The first section of the narrow gauge North Australia Railway from Darwin to Pine Creek opened in 1888 to service mines in the area. 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, its isolation, and finally damage to iron ore loading facilities at Darwin Port from Cyclone Tracy 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 the entire section from Darwin to Adelaide River, allowing construction of this section of rail trail. Many parts of the railway have been declared heritage places.

The original Darwin Railway Station has long gone, but was located adjacent to rail yards that remain as vacant land along Frances Bay Drive, adjacent to a bike path. The new Darwin rail terminal is located in the industrial area of East Arm.

Links

This rail trail is managed by the Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics. Please report any issues at transport.cycling@nt.gov.au or phone 8999 5511.

 

October 2020

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Contact Us About This Trail

Email or click here: nt@railtrails.org.au.

Photos

Comments

Comments

1 comment

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13 October , 2014 by Gary

Rode this short trail 6 Oct 2014. I found the surface very smooth, clean and in good repair. Wide enough for other riders, runners and walkers to pass safely. The trip from Darwin City to Howard Springs took me 1.5 HRS. The waiting for traffic at the major intersections took a few minutes. There are a few signs to indicate the History of the Rail but more information is required at major or interesting locations. You have to leave the trail, but only a short distance to get drinks or food and these places can be easily seen from the trail. Overall, a great experience for a sixty plus gent from Victoria. Good cycling. Gary H.

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News

News

Northern Territory's Howard Springs to Coolalinga Shared Cycle Path completed

(Posted: 11/10/20)

Construction of the Howard Springs to Coolalinga Shared Cycle Path in the Northern Territory was completed in December 2019.

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Darwin's Rail Trail Family Day for New Extension (NT)

(Posted: 03/09/11)

Come and celebrate the opening of the new Palmerston to Howard Springs section.

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Northern Territory Rail Trail Walks

(Posted: 28/05/07)

Guided walks will be conducted at Katherine on the 9th June 2007 and Darwin on the 11th June 2007. More...