- Rail Trail
- On Road
- Potential Rail Trail
- Other Trail
- Former Railway
- Rail Trail
- On Road
- Potential RT
- Other Trail
- Former Railway
- The trail passes through rich agricultural landscapes with a gentle grade
- Well interpreted Aboriginal history
- Extensive World War II history
- Produce stalls and coffee shops
- Good climate year-round; April-September optimal
- Outstanding heritage listed natural environment and unique wildlife
- Expanding network of touring, MTB and road bike trails in the region
- Proximity to Cairns, Great Barrier Reef and coastal attractions
- Well serviced towns and villages
Last updated: 7 August 2023
The Atherton Tableland rail trail currently comprises three sections – 20km from Atherton to Walkamin, an ‘informal’ 7.5km section from Walkamin to Mareeba Airport, and a recently constructed 7km section from the Airport to Mareeba Heritage Museum.
Atherton and Mareeba have all facilities while Tolga (6 km north) has toilets, cafe and pub, while the small settlement of Walkamin (14.5 km north of Tolga) has toilets, car parking and a small store
Northern Section – Atherton to Walkamin – 20km
The trail begins at Platypus Park on the southern side of Atherton and runs through the centre of the township. There are many trails leading to the Atherton Forest Mountain Bike Park (refer to map here), and the Atherton Skills Park and MTB trailhead lie on the trail.
The trail runs north to Tolga, passing the Tolga Scrub, a remnant of endangered mabi forest that once covered most of the Atherton Tablelands.
A diversion off the trail leads to the popular 28km Tolga to Kairi cycling loop.
From Tolga the trail heads gently downhill to Rocky Creek, which, during World War II, housed the largest military hospital complex in the Southern Hemisphere with some 60,000 Australian soldiers treated here for war-related conditions.
The trail passes the restored Rocky Creek igloo, one of the complex’s remaining buildings. Across the road is the Rocky Creek campground and war memorial park, the focus of Victory in the Pacific celebrations each year. There are rest and toilet facilities at Rocky Creek.
The trail continues beneath the Kennedy Highway road bridge and runs a further six km north to the small village of Walkamin through agricultural land – (see map at current Atherton Tablelands Rail Trail)
Central Section – Walkamin to Mareeba Airport – 7.5km
From Walkamin heading north, the 7.5km trail to the Mareeba Airport adopts a gentle downhill grade but is rough and informally ridden. It passes through some attractive Eucalypt country as well as agricultural properties. Mareeba Shire Council have indicated that this section could be upgraded for use during 2023 which is great news!
Mareeba Airport to Mareeba Heritage Museum – 7km
Mareeba Shire Council have recently completed this section. It is a linear trail which offers an excellent surface and Eucalypt groves provide good morning and afternoon shade for most of the trail. The Mareeba Heritage Museum is a wonderful end to your ride and offers Tours and Activities, Visitor Information and Events Calendar.
Once the link between Mareeba Airport and Walkamin is completed, the Atherton to Mareeba Rail Trail will be 36km – the fourth longest trail in Qld.
Mareeba with former Atherton line to left and inland railway to right. 
Riding the undeveloped section between Mareeba and Walkamin 
The scenery at Rocky Creek 
An 'Igloo building at the former Rocky Creek military hospital facility, which was reportedly the largest in Australia during World War 2. 
Cruising between Tolga and Atherton 
Leaving Tolga for Atherton 
The former station at Tolga is now a museum 
The former Atherton railway yards now have a pump track and shelter 
The Mazlin Creek bridge near Atherton 
Platypus Park on the way out of Atherton is shared with the Atherton Herberton Historic Railway 
Another view of Platypus Park 
Some trains are still running at Atherton, albeit models at the Platypus Park cafe! 
Platypus Park station cafe 
The railside trail on the way out of Atherton 
Thee railside trail heading out of Atherton towards Herberton 
The tunnel at the top of the range between Atherton and Herberton 
Herberton railway station 
Video of the latest development of the Atherton to Herberton shared trail beside the railway line
We acknowledge the Tableland Yidinji people, the traditional custodians of the land and waterways on which the rail trail is built.
Development and future of the rail trail
A feasibility study detailing the extension of the remaining 16 km section between Walkamin and Mareeba was released in early 2020. RTA representatives continue to work with Mareeba Shire Council on the project, which could link the two major townships of the Tablelands by way of a safe 36.5 km trail.
Extending the trail to the south from Atherton towards Herberton is also a priority. Atherton Herberton Historic Rail (AHHR) holds the lease for the railway corridor between Atherton and Herberton, and the development of a 21 km shared use trail is well advanced.
The current railway line is being restored so AHHR can operate tourist trains between Herberton and Atherton, and a section of the corridor between Atherton to Hasties Road has been developed for use by cyclists, equestrians and walkers.
The Atherton to Herberton railway line has significant historic and cultural values; the tunnel at the top of the Herberton Range is reputed to be the highest in Qld.
The trail also crosses a diverse landscape with outstanding natural features such as Carrington Falls and Hasties Swamp National Park, a large seasonal wetland that is a refuge and birdwatching hotspot for resident and migratory birds.
From Herberton the original trail runs for 35 km to Ravenshoe, but this section is partly demolished and effectively unrideable. The last 7 km section from Tumoulin to Ravenshoe is intact and the Ravenshoe Railway Company still holds the lease, though the train is not currently running.
There is limited political interest in redeveloping the redundant sectors of the Tablelands region, but there is potential for a trail of around 92 km from Mareeba to Ravenshoe.
Rail line history
The Atherton Tableland Rail Trail constitutes a small part of the extensive history of the Cairns to Ravenshoe railway system. For comprehensive information on this system, go to:
We thank Tablelands Regional Council, Rail Trails Australia and Atherton-Herberton Historic Railway Inc. for their continued support, and look forward to working with AHHR on the shared trail from Atherton to Herberton. This link will also open up safe cycling opportunities in the savannah country to the west of the Tablelands, including the Lappa Trail and the Irvinebank to Boonmoo tramline.
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