Trail Open

Fernleigh Track

NSW Newcastle Area

3.9 based on 8 reviews
Location: 135 km north of Sydney, 5km from Newcastle city centre
Length: 16 km
Surface: Sealed
Start / End: Belmont to Adamstown
Public Transport: Bus, Train
Suitable for:
  • Cycling – Mountain BikesCycling – Mountain Bikes
  • Cycling – Touring and Hybrid BikesCycling – Touring and Hybrid Bikes
  • PramsPrams
  • Scooters and Inline SkatesScooters and Inline Skates
  • WalkingWalking
  • WheelchairsWheelchairs

Map Legend:

  • Rail Trail
  • On Road
  • Possible Rail Trail
  • Other Trail
  • former Railway

DETAILS

Why visit the Fernleigh Track?

The 16 km Fernleigh Track between Adamstown and Belmont on the coastal fringe of Newcastle is a high-quality rail trail running through quiet bushland and suburban landscapes. A major feature is the 180 m curved brick-lined Fernleigh Tunnel beneath the Pacific Highway. The Fernleigh Track has public transport access at Adamstown, and access points at Whitebridge, Redhead, Jewells and Belmont have car parks. It is a very popular rail trail and a visit is easily combined with a short side trip to Redhead Beach. The trail is being extended south by Lake Macquarie council in the Fernleigh Awabakal Shared Track project, and will eventually connect to Blacksmiths and Swansea.

Attractions

The Newcastle region offers a large range of opportunities for visitors:

  • The region has many historic sights.
  • The harbourfront of Newcastle has been transformed into a major tourist venue, with many restaurants and shops.
  • A light rail service connects Newcastle’s main railway station with the whole CBD and the beach.
  • The Hunter Valley northwest of Newcastle is one of Australia’s prime wine production regions.
  • Newcastle has a wide range of accommodation.

Trail Guide

The Fernleigh Track consists of three basic sections: 

Adamstown to Whitebridge (6 km)

Access the trail alongside Adamstown Station on the Newcastle Central Coast line, or ride in from Newcastle CGD along well-signposted routes. The offroad portion starts at the junction of Park Ave and Bailey St, and climbs on a slight gradient up to the 180m brick lined Fernleigh Tunnel (2.1 km) under the Pacific Highway. (Take care crossing the busy connector between Park Ave and Brisbane Water Road, 700m from the start.) It then runs through bushland in the Glenrock State Recreation Area, before crossing Burwood Road (3.5 km) at traffic signals.

Considerable traces of the original railway and the coal mines it serviced can be found along this stretch, including Kahibah Station (where the trail crosses the Great North Walk). Burwood Colliery Dam, etc. Interpretive signage tells the story of the mines and railway.

Water and toilets are available at Whitebridge Station (5.5 km). This is the peak of the trail profile.

Whitebridge to Redhead (4.5 km)

From Whitebridge the trail gently descends to Redhead through native bush. The restored station platform at Redhead is a major feature of this section. Here ‘up’ and ‘down’ traffic take different sides of the platform!

Turn left at Cowlishaw St (9.5 km) to ride down to Redhead Beach (signposted), for shops and cafes. There is water available at Liles Oval near the turnoff.

Redhead to Belmont (5.5 km)
This section is basically flat and the scenery predominantly coastal bushland, the highlight being the boardwalk across wetlands. Kalaroo Rd must be crossed (11.9 km) just prior to reaching the Jewells Station platform, where water is available. 

The platform and surrounds at Belmont (15.5 km) have had considerable landscaping and interpretive signage.

The rail trail finishes in Railway Parade, a few hundred metres from the picturesque Lake Macquarie harbour at Belmont. Lake Macquarie City is extending the trail to the south towards Blacksmiths, in a project called the Fernleigh Awabakal Shared Track (FAST – under construction). While not a former railway, it will provide off-road access for much of the journey south to the Swansea Bridge (22 km) and Caves Beach (25 km).

Belmont is the best place along the trail to buy refreshments, with a range of places to eat and drink close to that end of the track. There are also shops and cafes at Redhead and Adamstown. 

Section Guides

Adamstown to Whitebridge (6 km)

The trail climbs on a slight gradient passing through the 180 m brick-lined and fully lit Fernleigh Tunnel beneath the Pacific Highway, then runs through bushland in the Glenrock State Recreation Area.

  • From the south side of the Adamstown railway station, head southwest along Park Ave to the roundabout and the start of the trail.
  • Follow the trail through the tunnel and then across Burwood Rd.

Whitebridge to Redhead (4.5 km)

The restored station platform at Redhead is a major feature of this section. Here ‘up’ and ‘down’ traffic take different sides of the platform.

  • From Whitebridge the trail gently descends to Redhead through native bushland.
  • From Collishaw Street it is 1.5 km to Redhead surf beach.

Redhead to Belmont (5.5 km)

This section is basically flat and the scenery predominantly coastal bushland, the highlight being the boardwalk across wetlands. The platform and surrounds at Belmont have had considerable landscaping, making it quite a feature.

  • The rail trail finishes in Railway Pde, a few hundred metres from the picturesque Lake Macquarie harbour at Belmont.
  • From this point, connections can be made south to Swansea and west to the Lake Macquarie shoreline.

Background Information

Traditional owners

We acknowledge the Awabakal people, the traditional custodians of the land and waterways on which the rail trail is built.

 Rail line history

The railway opened in the late 1880s to transport coal from mines in the Lake Macquarie area to the Port of Newcastle. Evidence of some of the mines is still visible from the track. It was also used as a passenger service between Belmont and Newcastle with stations at Kahibah, Whitebridge and Redhead. The last passenger train ran in 1971. Coal mines along the corridor began to close in the 1980s and the line ceased to be used in 1991. Remnants of the former railway are visible all along the Fernleigh Track. 

Newcastle and Lake Macquarie councils purchased the land of the former private coal railway to Belmont and opened the first section of the rail trail, Adamstown-Kahibah (Burwood Rd), in 2003. Stage 3 of the Fernleigh Track from Whitebridge to Redhead opened in 2009. Stage 4 from Redhead to Jewells Station was completed in mid 2010 and the completed rail trail to Belmont was opened in March 2011. The FAST track to Blacksmiths is expected to be completed in 2022.

PHOTOS

SERVICES

No services listed for this rail trail.

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REVIEWS

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8 reviews of “Fernleigh Track”

Have ridden this trail many times in the past. Walked a short section around the tunnel yesterday. A great trail passing through a variety of bush. It’s shorter than many but among the best trails in Australia, and is justifiably popular with local runners, walkers and cyclists. Note: was told that the trail and parts of the adjacent Glenrock Lagoon were closed due to fire. The trail at least now appears to be open.

A fantastic family ride with the kids (9 and 11). A few complaints and grumbling going up from Belmont, but much quicker and easier coming back Rail tunnel was fun. We were passed by some “serious cyclists”, but it was never a problem or a danger. You just need to keep an eye out for other trail users.
https://hikingtheworld.blog/2018/01/11/fernleigh-track-lake-macquarie/

This is a fantastic track and should be for everyone. I find the Lycra cyclist very arrogant on this track, pacing at fast road speeds and expecting everyone to get out of their way. It was not enjoyable taking my 4 yr old twins on a scooter ride with cyclist not slowing down. A bad accident waiting to happen if it hasn’t already. Should be a reinforced speed limit on this track.

I rode this trail over the Easter weekend 2017 with my partner and her brother. What a great asset for Newcastle, the ride was easy and as mentioned above even had areas where no pedaling was required. I know for certain of other areas in the Hunter Valley that have disused rail tracks which could easily be converted to this purpose. Look in Victoria where there are over 700 kms of tracks which attract many avid users. Get on-board to press the State Government to release this land to Local Councils so we can see more of this great activity.

Although NSW has very few rail trails, the Fernleigh trail is excellent. It has a great surface and traverses really nice country. It comes complete with some old stations and a tunnel. It will suit a family ride, no problem. Just watch the road crossings. Five stars from me.

I rode this trail this afternoon (26/3/16) with my brother, as part of doing the three main rail trails around Newcastle. This is a fantastic trail and I really enjoyed it. The highlight is the Fernleigh tunnel – which is the best rail tunnel I have come across on the trails I have undertaken. It is clearly a popular trail with a lot of other users on the whole of the trail. The trail is sealed and in very good state, though there a few road crossings that don’t provide good visual of the oncoming traffic. There is one long hill up to Whitebridge – and a great downhill, I don’t think I needed to pedal for 4 kms. I thoroughly recommend this trail and will be back.

I love this rail trail. It is well maintained and is easy to get to the start by train, which is just near the roundabout on Park Avenue just behind Adamstown Station. Once I get to Belmont I ride around the northern side of the lake and then link up with the Glendale to Wallsend track and onto Jesmond and Lambton and home.

The Address of the starting Point and End Point is not very apparent. For the benefit of the users the address should be provided in more detail along with GPS location, Street number and Street name

NEWS

Design taking shape for new Fernleigh Track amenities block

Posted: 11/12/20

A new amenities block on the Fernleigh Track rail trail in NSW will include an ...

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Cessnock City Council Trails Strategy recognises value of colliery rail network

Posted: 23/06/20

Cessnock City Council (CCC) recently released their Trails Strategy. The Strategy was developed by CCC ...

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NSW continues the momentum for developing cycling facilities

Posted: 19/06/20

Lake Macquarie and Newcastle City Councils are showing what can be done when it comes ...

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Newcastle’s Fernleigh Track to be extended

Posted: 19/02/20

The very popular Fernleigh Track – Adamstown to Belmont Rail Trail is set to be extended ...

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