- Rail Trail
This trail is currently closed – please check with the local Mittagong authorities before visiting – update current as at 5 July 2022
This former railway line was used to transport coal from the Nattai Region to the main southern line at Mittagong. The rail corridor is now a very good bushwalk through the Southern Highlands, and the walk includes an 84 m tunnel near the end of the trail.
Walking the trail will take three to four hours for the return trip. The trail is clearly formed and has good signposts but is rough in places.
The tramway (railway) and its bridges are long gone, but the cuttings, embankments and the 84 m tunnel remain. The trail is in the scenic Nattai River Valley and features cuttings, a tunnel and an old dam. There is also a linked path back to Mittagong township.
Many of the original railway formations have been overrun but it remains a very interesting 10km round trip walk. At the end of the track are picnic tables and a superb lookout over the Nattai River. Return is via the same path. Suitable in all seasons but best in autumn and spring.
The Mittagong and Southern Highlands region offers a wide range of tourist experiences and is easily accessible from Sydney by public transport or car.
Last updated: 20 November 2022
The Box Vale Tramway Track is in one section, from the Mittagong end to the historic Box Vale Incline. There is no intermediate access.
How to reach the trail by road:
From the north, turn left off the F6 Hume Freeway at Mittagong (110 km south of Sydney), drive through the township, bear right along the old Hume Highway and follow it to cross the Hume Freeway at Welby. Turn right almost immediately onto Boxvale Road. After 100 m, bear left at a small roadway entrance marked Box Vale Walking Track. There is a clearly marked car parking area at the trailhead in Mt Alexander Reserve.
From the south, turn off the F6 Hume Freeway at Mittagong and follow the old Hume Highway to Welby. Turn left onto Boxvale Road. After 100 m, bear left at a small roadway entrance marked Box Vale Walking Track. There is a clearly marked car parking area at the trailhead in Mt Alexander Reserve.
Trailhead to Box Vale Incline (5 km)
From the trailhead, the track descends along a bush path before meeting the old rail corridor. From there, the trail runs through bushland with some creek crossings and cuttings. There are rock falls in the cuttings so some clambering is needed in places.
There is plenty of car parking at the trailhead.
On the embankment approaching the tunnel (Feb 2018)
Information sign at trailhead (Feb 2018)
Creek crossing at start of Trail. Railway bridge is missing. (Feb 2018)
Approaching the tunnel (Feb 2018)
The Casuarina Cutting (Feb 2018)
Sign at Trail Head
One of the many embankments (Feb 2018)
The Tree Fern Cutting (Feb 2018)
Tunnel on the Box Vale tramway track
View from Nattai Gorge Lookout (Feb 2018)
We acknowledge the Gundungarra people, the traditional custodians of the land and waterways on which this rail trail is built.
Rail line history
The original standard gauge line was built in 1888 to carry coal from the Nattai Gorge 7 km to the main southern line at Mittagong. The line passes through several cuttings and includes an 84 m tunnel. It ends at the historic incline by which coal was brought up from the Gorge.
The colliery probably had its heyday in 1888, when 100 tons of coal a week were shipped to Melbourne during a coal strike. The colliery closed in 1896 and the tramway (railway) was abandoned. The last part of the line was opened as a walking track, designed and financed by the Nowra Lands Office, in 1996.
Construction was done by wards of the State from Toombong School, the Mount Alexandra Committee and people employed under the Community Employment Program.