Trail Open

Katherine Rail Trail

Northern Territory

Location: Katherine, 320km from Darwin
Length: 6 km
Surface: Sealed
Start / End: Katherine Station to Morey Rd
Public Transport: Coach
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
  • A high standard rail trail with the centrepiece of the high bridge across the Katherine River
  • Follows the route of the historic former North Australian Railway, where considerable effort has gone into preserving remaining infrastructure
  • Includes links to Katherine River cycle path and RAAF Base Tindal path, and other mountain bike tracks around the town

Attractions

  • A family friendly rail trail with information signs about the early days of development
  • A fully restored heritage railway station
  • Path links to the Katherine River path and cafes at Katherine Hot Springs
  • Best views of the Katherine River from viewing platforms on the bridge

Trail Guide

This rail trail begins at the former Katherine railway station and after crossing the historic Katherine River railway bridge, runs through savanna and limestone outcrops typical of the area. The centre of the trail is the former railway station, which has several reminders of its past days as well as a steam locomotive on display.

Interpretive signs along the path highlight the history of the railway including the former Emungalan township and the nearby cemetery. Before the Katherine River railway bridge was built, the town of Emungalan (on the north side of the river) was the railway terminus of the line from Darwin. After the bridge was completed in 1926, the new town of Katherine was formed and Emungalan faded away.

At several locations the trail deviates from the formation to preserve rails and Carnegie steel sleepers as heritage features. Railway culverts and bridges have been retained. Part of the path, including a bridge, has been decked in steel mesh so the rails and three types of sleepers are visible. Solar lights have been installed over the bridge.

Section Guides

Katherine Station to Morey Rd (6 km)

Starting just one street from the main road through Katherine, the trail heads directly to the nearby river. As the trail progresses from the river it rises slightly until it reaches Morey Rd, making the return trip an easy roll back.

Background Information

Traditional owners

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

Development and future of the rail trail

While there are no plans to extend the rail trail, the former rail corridor is largely retained as far south as Larrimah, around 180 km.

Rail line history

The first section of the narrow-gauge North Australia Railway from Darwin to Pine Creek opened in 1888.  It was extended to Katherine in 1926 and to Larrimah in 1929. The line did not link with the Adelaide to Alice Springs railway, but it played a vital role in the development of the Northern Territory during World War II.  The line closed in 1976.

The new standard gauge Alice Springs to Darwin railway opened in 2004 and parts of the new railway were built on the old North Australia Railway alignment; however, some parts of the old line were bypassed including that in Katherine, allowing construction of this rail trail.

The bridge opened to the public in 2007 and the 5 km section of trail north of the bridge opened in 2011.

No services listed for this rail trail.

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Nearby Trails

Pine Creek Rail Trail

Pine Creek Rail Trail

Pine Creek, approximately 225km south of Darwin

1 km

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