- Rail Trail
- On Road
- Possible Rail Trail
- Other Trail
- former Railway
- A beautiful trail that winds along the edge of Bass Strait, the banks of the Mersey and Don rivers, through areas of bushland and through the centre of Devonport City. Much of the trail shares a corridor with, or is adjacent to the working freight rail line and the heritage Don River railway. In places, the trail runs on the formation of the old tramway that ran from Don River heads south to Melrose.
- The trail has a good surface of mostly wide concrete or bitumen path and can be ridden in all weathers. The trail is suitable for all types of bikes, scooters, wheelchairs and mobility vehicles (except for a short section of old bitumen near Don College).
- There are frequent distance makers and numerous interpretive signs to provide a background on the Devonport area, the port history and the railway.
- Devonport is a major regional centre with a full range of facilities. Devonport is the home port for the Bass Strait ferry “Spirit of Tasmania” and the cycle trails can be directly accessed from the ferry port.
- There are plenty of accommodation options in Devonport including the Bluff Caravan Park adjacent to the trail. There are several bicycle shops in town. There are numerous cafés and eating options in the area including several delightful cafes right on the trail where it runs along the banks of the Mersey River.
- Significant attractions adjacent to the trail include the heritage Don River Railway which runs regular tourist services on a short 3km section of the old tramway from Don to Coles Beach. Some of these services are steam hauled. The railway workshops and museum have a magnificent collection of locomotives, rolling stock and railway infrastructure. There is also the excellent Bass Strait Maritime Museum (and café!) at the mouth of the Mersey River and “Tiagarra” – the Tasmanian Aboriginal Cultural Centre at the Bluff where a number of petroglyphs (rock carvings) can be viewed. There is a safe swimming area at the patrolled Bluff beach – and another good café at the Life Saving Club.
- An interesting side trip can be taken by crossing the Mersey River on the little “Spirit of Devonport” passenger ferry (bikes carried at no cost). The ferry pontoon is located adjacent to the Harbourmasters Café right on the trail. After crossing, you can continue a ride along the East Devonport foreshore path and the edge of the river and Bass Strait coast as far as Pardoe beach near the airport.
- Devonport City Information Centre is in the new paranaple centre in Rooke St one block back from the riverfront (This area is currently undergoing extensive renovation and construction as part of the new riverfront precinct)
- Tiagarra Aboriginal Cultural Centre and Keeping Place
- Don River Railway
- Bass Strait Maritime Centre
- Devonport Aquatic Centre
- Devonport – numerous access points from off street parking areas on Victoria Parade along the banks of the Mersey River
- Bluff Beach – large parking area adjacent to the Surf Life Saving Club (With public toilets)
- Coles Beach – Parking area (with public toilets) adjacent to the beach
- Devonport Aquatic Centre – at the western end of Steele Street
- Don – street parking at the Don Reserve outside the Don River Railway entrance (can be crowded on weekends). Public toilets at the Don Hall.
- Horsehead Creek – large parking area at Horsehead Creek Park on the banks of the Mersey River approx. 3km south of Devonport City.
“Spreyton Link” Horsehead Creek to Devonport City (3km)
- From the car park, head north along the banks of the river on a good path
- Take care with vehicles and boat trailers accessing the boat ramp at this park.
- Continue on a good path adjacent to the river through the Waterfront Centre complex (another good café here overlooking the river). The path then continues adjacent to the railway line and Devonport – Spreyton road. Take care crossing the busy port access road.
- The path then continues on the old railway formation including through the old loading bays that gave direct rail access for the warehouses of local businesses.
- The path now goes under the Bass Highway and continues as a dedicated cycle/walking trail adjacent to the working rail line and overlooking the rail yards and port activities until you come to the beautiful riverside park area of Victoria Parade in downtown Devonport.
Devonport City to Don (7.5 km)
- It’s a gentle flat ride on a good wide path all the way to Coles Beach.
- From the river side park area, continue north along the banks of the Mersey taking care when crossing the railway line and extra care around the boat ramp area. This section is also very popular with walkers, dogs and people on mobility scooters.
- Where the Mersey River enters the sea (at the controversial “Spirit of the Seas” statue) the path heads west along the beautiful coast line at the edge of Bass Strait. The path continues to wind through the park until you get to Bluff Beach where there is safe swimming (patrolled beach), café and public toilets.
- The path now re-joins the main rail line winding through lovely tea trees and coastal vegetation to Coles Beach. There are public toilets at Coles Beach. Coles Beach is also the terminus of the heritage Don River Railway.
- From Coles Beach the trail shares much of the corridor with the Don River railway. Tourist trains run on this section all year round so take care when crossing this line.
- The trail now passes through areas of open forest and some dense tea trees with glimpses of the Don River through the trees. The track surface is bitumen and rough in parts especially through the tea tree areas. The Devonport Council is progressively upgrading the track.
- At the Devonport Aquatic Centre, the main path heads south a further 1 km through bushland and in close proximity to the rail line to Don Village and the headquarters of the Don River Railway.
- From Don, return to Devonport by taking the Old Tramway loop on the western side of the Don River and cross the river on the new “Sawdust” bridge, cross the rail line and then a very short steep ascent brings you back out at the Aquatic Centre where you rejoin the main trail back to Devonport. (Alternatively, the loop can be done in reverse but take extra care on the steep descent to the Sawdust bridge)
On the banks of the Mersey River in Devonport (2020)
Spirit of Tasmania seen across the Mersey River (2019)
Trail beside Don River tourist railway (2019)
Trail beside Coles Beach (2019)
Trail in Mersey River port area (2019)
The trail passes right through the old rail goods sheds in Devenoport! This is unique in Australia. (2020)
Out of Devonport the trail right along the edge of Bass Strait (2020)
The Don River Railway complex at the end of the trail (2020)
We acknowledge the Tommeginne people, the traditional custodians of the land and waterways on which the rail trail is built.
Development and future of the trail
The Devonport City Council has plans to extend the trail further south along the alignment of the old tramway to Melrose, where the extensive Tasmanian Arboretum has been established, as well as the popular swimming and picnic spot of Lake Eugenana at the old limestone quarries.
The North West Coastal pathway from Latrobe to Wynyard is currently under construction, and will link many existing pathways including parts of the Devonport cycleway and significant sections of rail trails. When completed, the Coastal Pathway will link small and large towns over a network of about 110 km of high quality paths.
Rail line history
A timber tramway was built in the 1850s from Don Heads on the western side of the Don River to carry timber from the hinterland to a wharf on the river.
In 1916, a more substantial rail line was built on the eastern side of the river to carry limestone mined in quarries near Melrose as well as bringing out timber and produce from the farms further south in the Paloona and Barrington areas. Traffic on the line declined through the 1940s and 1950s and eventually complete closure of the line in 1963.
The heritage rail group was formed in 1973 and today has a substantial complex of workshops. Museum and tourist facilities at its Don River headquarters. There are regular tourist trains running on the 3.5 km stretch of line from Don to Coles Bay.
The Devonport City Council builds, maintains and upgrades many trails suitable for cycling and walking for people of all mobilities.