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Northern Rivers Rail Trail

NSW country and ACT

4.9 based on 14 reviews
Location: North East NSW, via Murwillumbah and Casino
Length: 24 km
Surface: Crushed granite, Sealed
Start / End: Murwillumbah to Crabbes Creek
Public Transport: Bus, 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

  • Rail Trail
  • On Road
  • Potential RT
  • Other Trail
  • Former Railway
View Map
  • The first section (Stage One) of 24 km between Murwillumbah and Crabbes Creek opened in March 2023
  • This rail trail in the far northeast of NSW traverses a World Heritage region.
  • This rail trail starts at the state heritage listed Murwillumbah Railway Station and its 24kms is made up of 18kms compact gravel and 6kms sealed.
  • Users will experience 26 bridges (16 restored and 10 bypassed) as well as 2 tunnels including the unique Burringbar Range Tunnel (524m) and Hulls Rd Tunnel (50m).
  • The rail trail traverses lush scenery all the way and after leaving the town of Murwillumbah, you will pass through the villages of Dunbible, Stokers Siding, Burringbar, Mooball and Crabbes Creek.
  • Views of Wollumbin / Mount Warning can be seen at various locations with many other vistas and views along the scenic and shaded route

Nearby Attractions

  • Scenic Murwillumbah is the home of Tweed Regional Gallery and Margaret Olley Art Centre –  NSW’s largest regional art gallery, featuring the Margaret Olley Art Centre, murals and art trails and the Tweed Regional Museum. The Northern Rivers region is renowned for its arts communities and is reputed to have the greatest number of practising artists per head of population.
  • The region hosts a variety of music, writers’, food and art festivals
  • Murwillumbah is the closest town to Wollumbin (Mount Warning) National Park
  • Sugarcane, coffee and tropical fruits, with paddock-to-plate growers, farmers’ markets and local markets
  • Award-winning restaurants, cafes and a variety of accommodation
  • Less than 30 minutes drive to the Gold Coast and its airport and an hour from Ballina airport

Last updated: 17 February 2024

The trail is 24kms long, and the surface is made up of a mix of compacted gravel surface, and some sealed sections at Murwillumbah and the villages along the trail.

Access Points

  • Murwillumbah Railway Station
  • Stokers Siding
  • Mooball
  • Burringbar

Car Parking available at all access sites.

Public toilets available at Murwillumbah, Stokers Siding, Moobal and Burringbar.

Refreshments are available at some of the small shops and pubs in the villages next to the trail.

Section Guides

Stage 1: TWEED VALLEY SECTION

This 24km section passes through hills and includes several tunnels.  The gradient is generally flat, with some gentle undulations at railway grade.

  • Only 8km from Murwillumbah you will reach the small village of Stokers Siding
  • A further 10km you will be at Burringbar
  • The last 6km gets you to Crabbes Creek

The picturesque town of Murwillumbah is close to the large population centres of Tweed Heads and the Gold Coast, and less than 30 minutes from the Coolangatta/Gold Coast airport, making access easy for visitors further away.

Condong to Crabbes Creek (24 km) was jointly funded by the NSW and Federal Governments.

In June 2021 Tweed Shire Council voted to accept the formation tender from Hazel Bros Qld Pty Ltd for $11.7 million.

This took the trail to the final design and construction planning stage, with construction beginning in September 2021; the trail is now operational and was officially opened on 1 March 2023

Stage 2: CASINO SECTION

Casino to Bently (13.5 km), funded by the Federal Government. A draft master plan will be  completed by December 2021.

The NSW Government gave approval in June 2021 for Richmond Valley Council to move to a detailed design and construction stage for this section. Construction will be managed by Council, eliminating the need for a tender process; this should see construction begin soon, at a date to be announced.

The railway corridor is owned by the NSW State Government, and trespassing is prohibited on unopened sections.

Stage 3: LISMORE SECTION

Bentley to Lismore (16.3 km), Lismore to Eltham  (15.5 km), Eltham to Booyong (5.9 km). Total 37.1 km

Council has included the rail trail as one of its top five projects for grant funding, and a petition asking for funding for the section between Bentley and Eltham has more than 1520 signatures.

Stage 4: BYRON LINE

A multi-modal trail for trains and a rail trail. Council is currently concentrating on the section from Sunrise in Byron to Tyagarah, hoping for around $200,000 in funding so the line can be cleared to allow the engineering company to view the bridges in detail.

 

Do you know of a bike hire or transportation service on this rail trail that should appear here? If so, let us know at admin@railtrails.org.au.

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14 reviews of “Northern Rivers Rail Trail”

Did this ride (Murwillumbah to Crabbes Ck and return) with my 12yo daughter in about 3hrs. The trail was so smooth and comfortable to ride on compared to the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail and I'd say is doable with any bike. We didn't really notice the elevation heading out, but given highest point of the trail is about the middle, it's an easy and fun downhill coast to home regardless of which way you go. We also liked the trail is well shaded and mostly out of the hot sun so will be. There were lots of other riders, walkers, joggers and kids using the trail so be careful and courteous.
I look forward to the next stages opening.

Fantastic trail! Hubby and I cycled the trail (there and back) yesterday and today. We have cycled many rail trails in Australia, New Zealand and the U.S and this is one of the best. We loved the frequent towns with lots of cafes and other facilities. The trail surface is great, the signage is excellent and the scenery is never boring. We couldn't believe how many other cyclists, walkers and runners were on the trail. Congratulations to all those who worked so hard to make this trail a reality. What a great success!

Great trail, Murwillumbah and surrounds was a pleasant suprise. The trail itself is well engineered and safe with a few cafe options along the way. It is an out and back, will be even better when extended. We travelled in May which was very pleasant. The trail is very shady, so even in summer will be OK I think.

What a fantastic trail. The scenery is beautiful and it has a quality surface. This is an easy day trip from Brisbane and back. I am looking forward to the future sections opening up.

Fantastic to tick this trail off our 'bucket list'. Loved the ride, our first experience of a 'rail trail'. Well sign-posted, a superb ride there and back. Friendly vibe, walkers, runners, riders, families. It was great to be able to stop for a coffee and snack along the way. Appreciated the parking area at the beginning of the trail. Loved the bridges and the LOOOOOONG tunnel!

My husband and I rode this trail in April. Every local we spoke to were so supportive of the trail. A beautiful ride and the tunnels are stunning. Will be back when the next section open. I have spread the word it's a must do ride

Hello All,
I visited the NRRT on the 11th of March and congratulations to all that made this possible.

Pretty much, I have all positives for this trail; Shaded Portions of the trail ✅, a fair bit of Bitumen ✅ and overall great scenery.

I did pick up up a tack (looked brand new) coming into Mooball (but my pit crew and I had that sorted quickly).

Really my only point is that the car parking spaces at Murwillumbah Station could have been made slightly wider considering that vehicles would be offloading and reloading push bikes.

Other than that – great job and a great trail. 🚵😁

Came up just to ride this new trail. Well worth the effort. High standard of sealed and gravel surfaces over the 24k length. Good interpretive signage. Beautiful bridges and 2 tunnels. Lots of riders, runners, walkers out on the trail despite the showers.

Just finished riding this wonderful trail today. Started at Murwillumbah and rode to the end and return.
We have had some showers of rain here,but i must say the gravel sections held up very well, with no soft and muddy bits. The bridge restorations are fantastic, and the bridge bypasses are excellent. I have been on other rail trails in Queensland, and some of the bridge bypasses are quite dangerous, but not on this trail. The lengthy hot mix sections are as smooth as glass, making peddaling a breeze. Great to be able to get a drink and snack at the many little villages next to the trail. Most of the trail is under a shady canopy, and riding through the two tunnels is a great experience.
Our ride took us about 4 hours with stops for coffee and photos. Our total distance was 53ks, including riding to and from our accommodation.
Highly recommended.

Had my first full length ride there and back the Thursday after the official opening and was very impressed by the whole trail. They certainly are building higher quality rail trails in NSW and the Valley of Contrasts lives up to its name with not one of those kilometres being repetitive with something different to see on each section you walk or ride.

I am pleased to be associated with Rail Trails Australia and be the local rep and if anyone is visiting the area wanting to know about local conditions or any other information feel free to contact me at is sbrown@railtrails.org.au and I will get back to you asap .

Looking forward to seeing you all soon in the beautiful Tweed Valley.

Super excited about the upcoming construction and opening of our beautiful Tweed Valley Rail Trail and the Murwillumbah to Crabbes Creek section.
We are extremely proud to support this project and be part of a new era. We will be looking forward to welcoming visitors to the trail. We have lots of great plans for the future and looking forward being part of this historical moment. We and our team will give our best to leave you with amazing memories riding our trails.

This soon to be realised and much needed Northern Rivers Rail Trail will become a wonderful way for locals and tourists of all ages and abilities to cycle and walk, away from our dangerous and busy main roads and poorly maintained secondary roads that join our beautiful hinterland villages. So looking forward to seeing people of all ages and fitness levels out exercising and exploring. Eco tourism will bring new life and sustainable economical benefits to areas well away from the overdeveloped Tweed coastal strip and footpaths.. Bring it on!

I have enjoyed rail trails in all the eastern states, and made multiple trips to NZ rail trails. The Northern Rivers area has so much potential – due to its striking topography, ideal climate, scenic villages and conservationist culture. The new rail trail will benefit both locals and visitors.

This enthralling area of NSW has always impressed me. Recently during a visit, I discovered much of the rail corridor and could not help but notice what an amazing riding experience this would be. Many countries are embracing rail trails and local economies are benefiting from the upturn in eco tourism. Just because a person rides a bike, does not mean that have no money to spend! Unfortunately I am now based on the other side of Australia, but I will support the development of this unique rail corridor wherever I can.

Background Information

Traditional owners

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

Development and future of the rail trail 

  • It will be 128 km long when completed.
  • The railway line was officially closed by NSW Parliament in October 2020, paving the way for construction of Stage One in 2022
  • Stage 1 of 24km from Murwillumbah to Crabbes Creek opened in March 2023. The Tweed Section is the second pilot rail trail to be developed in NSW.
  • Stage 2 at the southern end will be the 13.5km Casino to Bentley section, Richmond Valley Council is moving forward on Stage 2 with a construction due to be completed in December 2023

Transport for NSW completed a Casino to Murwillumbah Transport Study in 2013, following significant community requests for the return of passenger trains. The study evaluated the feasibility, benefits and costs of reinstating passenger services in the context of the current and future transport needs of people living in the study area, and potential connections to the South East Queensland public transport network.

The study found the line would not meet current or future transport needs and there were no significant opportunities with freight or tourism that could improve its viability. It determined that the rail infrastructure has deteriorated significantly, and more than $900 million would be needed to carry out the work required to ensure the system complied with safety and operating standards for frequent and reliable train services.

The rail line does not serve the major growth corridor between Lismore, Ballina, Byron Bay as well as the rapidly growing Tweed region and connections to South East Queensland. The study recommended investigating improving bus services to provide more people with frequent, cost-effective public transport to key destinations, rather than reinstating the rail line. Improvements could include increased services on key routes, better integration of timetables between services, changing other routes to include key destinations such as education campuses and hospitals, introducing new express services on the Pacific and Bruxner Highways, and improving passenger information. It recommended that the rail remain closed. The study noted that there is community interest in using sections of the rail line for a rail trail and, subject to stakeholder interest, this could be investigated further to test costs, benefits and feasibility.

To view a PDF copy of the study click HERE. (4.3MB)

The corridor has 145 timber bridges, 13 steel bridges and nine substantial tunnels, and reinstating and maintaining rail service to current safety standards will be an expensive option.

The Casino to Murwillumbah Rail Trail Study was commissioned by Ballina MP Don Page following the release of the Transport study. Released in June 2014, it states that a 130 km rail trail on the Casino to Murwillumbah corridor would have economic benefits to local communities as well as creating employment opportunities. Given the large number of timber bridges and tunnels on the corridor the estimated cost of construction is $75 million, with an estimated annual cost for maintenance between $884,000 to $ 1.15 million; significantly less than the cost of returning trains, and expenditure that would pay for itself within five years.

To see the full report click HERE

The Tweed Section is the second pilot rail trail to be developed in NSW. At the southern end of the trail is the Casino to Bentley section, with construction to follow. The Lismore and Byron sections are yet to seek funding or to embrace the rail trail.

Rail line history

The line connected Casino (on the Sydney to Brisbane main line) with Lismore, Byron Bay and Murwillumbah. The first section opened between Lismore and Murwillumbah in 1894, connecting the Richmond and Tweed Rivers. Passengers and goods were transported to Sydney by coastal shipping from Byron Bay. Nine years later, an extension from Lismore to Casino opened (later south to Grafton; it was not until 1932 that the line was fully connected with Sydney).

As early as 1889, feasibility talks took place into extending the line north from Murwillumbah into Queensland. The line became a branch line in 1930 when the North Coast main line was extended from Kyogle into South Brisbane.

The Casino to Murwillumbah railway line ceased operations in 2004.

Just in time for the holidays

Posted: 30/10/23

November UPDATE: Unfortunately the soft opening in December has been postponed due to bridge program ...

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Rail trail motion passed by Byron Bay Council for next section of Northern Rivers Rail Trail

Posted: 26/08/23

A motion for supporting a rail trail through Byron Shire was passed by Byron Bay ...

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Rail Trail Forum a Big Success (Updated)

Posted: 23/07/23

July UPDATE: Presentations added. On 24 March, Rail Trails Australia hosted the 2023 Rail Trails Forum in ...

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Usage data released on Tweed section of Northern Rivers Rail Trail

Posted: 11/07/23

Tweed Shire Council Rail Trail Managers have released the data from counters placed in various ...

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Attention turns to construction of Casino end of Northern Rivers Rail Trail

Posted: 06/07/23

The Casino to Bentley section of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail in northern NSW is ...

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More good news awards and accolades for the Northern Rivers Rail Trail

Posted: 20/05/23

The good news just keeps rolling in for the Tweed Section of the Northern Rivers ...

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Community Celebrates the Northern Rivers Rail Trail Opening

Posted: 27/03/23

The Tweed region in northern NSW celebrated the opening of the first section of the ...

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History made with Tweed Section of Northern Rivers Rail Trail opening today

Posted: 01/03/23

There was a palpable sense of history being made in Murwillumbah NSW this morning, as ...

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Northern Rivers Rail Trail Moving Ahead

Posted: 14/01/23

Leycester Creek Bridge at Lismore will be a real ...

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Tweed Northern Rivers Rail Trail Getting Closer

Posted: 24/08/22

With the good run of dry weather in the Northern Rivers, work is progressing well ...

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Northern Rivers Rail Trail (NSW) Construction Resumes & Plans Released

Posted: 30/05/22

After the devastating floods that struck the northern NSW and SE Qld this year, some ...

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Work Begins on Historic Northern Rivers Rail Trail Bridge

Posted: 12/02/22

There is a bridge in there somewhere! Construction ...

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Contractors commence construction of the Tweed Valley Rail Trail

Posted: 11/12/21

The test surface (with rail track removed) has had ...

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Northern Rivers Rail Trail releases new promotional video

Posted: 03/12/21

Rail trail lovers excitement is growing in the Northern Rivers of NSW with the commencement ...

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Byron Bay Heritage Railway Station given a facelift

Posted: 15/11/21

Byron Bay station precinct Byron Council have recently ...

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Funding announced for Bentley to Lismore Section of Northern Rivers Rail Trail

Posted: 08/10/21

Lismore Station will once again become a part of ...

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Casino to Bentley Rail Trail (NSW) moves to Phase 2

Posted: 25/06/21

The Richmond Valley Council received notice from the NSW state government to move to Phase 2 (...

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Northern Rivers Rail Trail Construction to Finally Begin

Posted: 19/06/21

Wonderful news with the Tweed Shire Council approving construction on the first section of the ...

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Express your support for the “On Formation” construction of the Tweed Valley Rail Trail

Posted: 08/06/21

Construction of theTweed Valley section of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail in NSW is near, ...

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New bicycle shop in heritage listed railway station on the Tweed Valley Rail Trail

Posted: 23/03/21

As we wait for the awarding of the contract and design for the construction of ...

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A short history of Northern Rivers rail corridor debate

Posted: 02/02/21

Here is a summary of the progress from closure of rail services to the beginning ...

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Works begins on Northern Rivers Rail Trail

Posted: 12/01/21

The beginning of a brand new year, and the beginning of a brand new rail ...

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Northern Rivers Rail Trail in NSW will soon be a reality

Posted: 16/10/20

Momentous news was received this week --- the second rail trail on a former government ...

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Casino to Bentley section of Northern Rivers Rail Trail moves a step closer to becoming a reality

Posted: 31/07/20

Naughtons Gap tunnel will be a feature of the ...

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What’s been happening on the Northern Rivers Rail Trail?

Posted: 30/10/19

Although progress seems slow on the proposed Northern Rivers Rail Trail (NRRT) in Northern NSW, ...

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Support the Northern Rivers Rail Trail Crowd Funding

Posted: 25/06/17

The Northern Rivers Rail Trail committee want to raise $75,000 for the design costs of a ...

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Northern Rivers Rail Trail Feasibility Study released

Posted: 18/06/14

A RAIL trail spanning the 130km length of the Casino to Murwillumbah line could be ...

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Northern Rivers Rail Trail proposal

Posted: 27/08/13

The minister for the North Coast of NSW, Don Page MP, announced on Friday 23rd ...

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Casino – Murwillumbah Transport feasibility study released

Posted: 26/04/13

The Casino to Murwillumbah rail line, in northern NSW,  seems set to remain closed indefinitely ...

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