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Denmark - Nornalup Heritage Rail Trail - Trail Description



Denmark - Nornalup Heritage Rail Trail

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Type: Rail trail
Location: 420km south east of Perth
Start/end: Hay River (15kms east of Denmark) to Station Road (2km south of Nornalup)
Status: Open
Length open: 57km
Surface: Compacted earth, Coarse gravel, Fine gravel
Terrain: Flat with some undulations
Best seasons: Early autumn, late spring
Public transport: Coach
Features: wineries
Contact Region: Western Australia
The Denmark end of the trail is at the Denmark River on the old railway bridge at the mouth of the river
The Denmark end of the trail is at the Denmark River on the old railway bridge at the mouth of the river
Suitable for walking Suitable for cycling mountain bikes Suitable for horse riding



  • The trail provides users with a variety of coastal, forest, farmland and coast heathland views
  • There are three sections of this trail currently open:
    • Hay River to Denmark;
    • Denmark to Parker Road; and
    • Peaceful Bay Road to Station Road (just south of Nornalup).
  • There are four original timber rail bridges in use on the trail.
  • As with many Western Australian rail trails, wildflowers abound in spring.
  • The Torbay to Elleker Rail Trail is 20km east of Denmark. This trail is part of the same old railway corridor.


The trail is currently in three sections: 

Hay River to Denmark (11km)

  • This part of the trail (which also forms part of the Munda Biddi Trail) passes through a range of coastal vegetation and offers beautiful views over the inlet. There is access to a couple of beaches along the way.
  • Access to the start of the trail is adjacent to the South Coast Hwy on the western side of the Hay River (Moore River on some maps), at the intersection of Pratts Road.
  • The trail joins Rudyard Place (a minor dirt road) for a short distance.
  • On the section of the trail between Crusoe Beach Road and onto Hay River the surface is typically rougher compared to the Denmark end.
  • The trail finishes at Denmark after crossing a bridge over the Denmark River.
  • There are shelters and interpretive signs along this section.

  • Heading east from the Hay River (Moore River) there is a cycling route which follows Keith, Hunwick and Sleeman Roads connecting to a route /shared path beside South Coast Highway and Lower Denmark Road to Youngs Siding.

Denmark is a medium size regional town with numerous facilities for visitors.  The foyer of the old Post Office has an information display including historical photos of the original Railway line being built.

Denmark River mouth on Inlet Drive is the trail hub and accessed adjacent to the Denmark Caravan Park at the southern end of Hollings Road. It is where the Denmark River flows into the Wilson Inlet, and this is where the Bibbulmun track, the Denmark to Nornalup Heritage Trail, the Wilson Inlet Heritage Trail, the Mokare Trail and still other Denmark walk trails meet and intersect.

Wilson inlet has an area of about 48 square kilometres. A sand bar forms at the mouth of the inlet meaning that for much of the year the inlet is isolated from the sea.

 Denmark to Parker Road (34km)

  • From the Denmark River mouth the trail passes the site of the original (second!) station site that still has some reminders of the railway including some historical railway wagons.

  • The trail west towards Nornalup may be boggy or sandy in some sections and is for keener cyclists only, though work is gradually been done to improve the quality of the surface.
  • This section of trail currently ends at Parker Road near the South Coast Highway. 
  • The 11km missing link between Bow Bridge and Parker Rd can be made by using the South Coast Highway.

 There are no facilities at Parker Road.

Peaceful Bay Road to Station Road (12km)

  • Access to the trail head at Bow Bridge is approx 1.5km south from South Coast Highway on Peaceful Bay Road.
  • The surface is still rough and/or sandy in places. 
  • The last 4km into Nornalup follows Station Road and finishes 2km out of the centre of Nornalup.

Nornalup is a small town with a few facilities for visitors.

Background Information

The South Coast Railway was built by private contractors in three stages. The Millars built the first stage from Elleker to Torbay in 1884. Then they commenced sawmilling in Denmark, and so extended the line to there in 1985. The Group Settlement Scheme started in Denmark in 1923, and because roads were non-existent and road transport was rare, there was a demand to extend the line to Nornalup, which was completed in 1929. The whole line had many cuttings and embankments, and was built entirely by hand, with pick and shovel and horse drawn drays.

After the Second World War, the motor car had become more popular, roads were being built and improved, and the railway line from Elleker to Nornalup closed in 1954.

Construction of the rail trail began in the 1990s and has been driven by Greenskills and the Denmark Shire Council. Also located on this corridor is the Torbay – Elleker Rail Trail, which is located approximately 20km east of the Hay River trailhead. The Great Southern Regional Trails Master Plan has identified the opportunity to develop the remaining sections of this rail corridor, resulting in a rail trail of approximately 100km extending from Albany to Nornalup.


The trail is managed by the Denmark Shire: 953 South Coast Highway, Denmark
Ph. (08) 9848 0300, email or

A brochure including a map is available from Denmark Tourism Incorporated ph 08 9848 2055

Further information can be obtained from the links below

1. Denmark Tourist Bureau
2. Greenskills Inc (Project Managers)
3. Rainbow Coast visitors guide

January 2020

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