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Outer Harbour Rail Trail

South Australia

Location: Port Adelaide, 20km north west of Adelaide
Length: 23 km
Surface: Sealed
Start / End: Adelaide CBD to Outer Harbour - Port Adelaide
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
  • Potential Rail Trail
  • Other Trail
  • former Railway
  • A rail trial steeped in Colonial and Maritime history
  • The trail connects with the Coast Park, a 28km shared use trail along a continuous sandy beach coast line
  • The trail links with several side trails that explore the Port Dock precinct and the coastal beach area of Semaphore
  • A flat 23.5km ride on quiet roads and paths, adjacent to an existing railway line
  • Suitable for all the family

Nearby Attractions

  • Three quality Museums in one street – National Railway Museum, SA Aviation Museum and SA Maritime Museum
  • Port Dock historic precinct
  • Access to the Coast Park and beach facilities
  • Anna Rennie (Inner Harbour) Loop Trail

Last updated: 21 November 2021

The trail is divided into three sections commencing from the Adelaide Parklands and following the existing rail corridor to the Port Dock precinct and then on to the Outer Harbour.  The Outer Harbour Railway Line was constructed in 1856 to transport passengers and freight between Adelaide and the Outer Harbour / Port Dock sea ports.

Section Guides

Adelaide Parklands to Woodville Railway Station (8 km)

The trail commences on the cycle track near the Morphett Street Bridge and follows the River Torrens and the rail line westward past the Torrens Weir and then under the railway line into Bonython Park. Follow the river to the first bridge and cross it and continue to the edge of the Park Lands where the path turns right and crosses the railway line again and follows the line under the roadway. From this point onward the trail is clearly marked and progresses through the new Bowden / Brompton housing development and utilises bridges to cross main roads.

The trail follows the quiet suburban streets adjacent to the railway line through to the Woodville Railway Station. If you need a rest, stop at the MJ McInerney Reserve.


Woodville Railway Station to Port Dock Precinct (6 km)

At the Woodville Railway Station continue straight on. There is a path on the opposite side of the railway line that follows the branch line toward the suburb of Grange. This path is still in development but will soon form a rail side trail.

The trail continues on either quiet streets or shared use paths however there are several points where the trail crosses main roads. Fortunately, the crossing points are controlled by traffic lights.

The path passes under Grand Junction Road, winds through suburban streets until it enters the old Port Dock rail yards. At this point you will see the Aviation Museum, then, in Lipson Street, you will pass the Railway Museum and once you cross St Vincent Street you will see the Maritime Museum on the right. All the Museums are excellent for children and can take some time to visit.

Please note that Lipson Street is one way so the return trip uses Timpson Street – please check the Rail Trails Map.

You are now in the Port Dock Precinct and you will come to the Port River at the end of Lipson Street. You may notice some interesting paving along the wharf area which indicates where some of the old railway lines were located. This area had numerous train, tram and trolly bus tracks, along wharfs, down streets and over bridges. There is an interesting shared use 3.5km trail (the Anna Rennie Loop Trail) that circles the Port Dock area. Further details are available in the Side Trails section below.


Port Dock Precinct to Outer Harbour (9.5 km)

The trail uses the Birkenhead Bridge to cross the Port River and then crosses Semaphore Road and follows the existing rail line along Mead Street and then weaves its way through suburbia until finally crossing the rail line into Lady Ruthven Drive. The trail crosses Lady Ruthven Drive and then continues on a short distance to a large roundabout. Follow the shared use path to the left until you get to Lady Ruthven Reserve and the Outer Harbour Lookout. This is the end of the rail trail however there is a great option for the return trip by following the Coast Park shared use trail south along the coast to Semaphore and then returning to Port Dock via the Semaphore Rail Trail.


Side Routes

Anna Rennie Loop Path – previously known as the Inner Harbour Loop rail trail (3.5km loop)

Please note that the Anna Rennie Loop Trail overlaps the Outer Harbour Rail Trail where it crosses the Port River (Birkenhead Bridge) and follows Jenkins Street and a small section of Semaphore Road.

The Loop trail circles the Port Dock precinct, also known as the New Port which replaced the Old Port dock which was further upstream in the Port River and was basically a mosquito infested, smelly swamp. It was so despised by the colonists that it was called Port Misery. The New Port on the other hand was well constructed on reclaimed land with modern timber wharfs and bridges. The loop circles the Port River and provides cyclists and walkers with convenient and safe path. The trail has many interactive maps that allow the viewer to superimpose historical photographs from a century ago over todays view of the Port. Also of interest, is Hart’s Mill Playground, a convenient place to rest while the kids burn-off some energy. Further details and maps can be found in the Information and Links section below


Coast Park Trail

A 28km trail which follows the coast from Outer Harbour to Seacliff, south of Adelaide. Please note that a 5km section of the trail currently follows Military Road from Third Avenue Semaphore Park to the Grange Jetty. This 5km section is expected to be converted into a shared use path along the coast over the next few years. The Coast Park also connects with the Mike Turtur Rail Trail and the River Torrens Linear Park. Further information is available from the TrailsSA – see the link below.

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Background Information

Traditional owners

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


Development and future of the rail trail

The Rosewater Loop is a potential Rail trail of 5km in length that would connect the Outer Harbour Rail Trail with the Port River Bikeway via Eastern Parade. The loop was constructed in 1915 to alleviate congestion in the Port Dock rail yards and is no longer in use.


Rail line history

The Railway between Adelaide and the Port Dock Railway Station was opened in 1856 and was the second railway in South Australia and is believed to be the first Government owned railway in the British Empire. The rail line was later extended to Outer Harbour when a deeper sea port was required.

The Port Dock area was incredibly busy, bringing immigrants and produce in from abroad and exporting copper and farm produce to the world. All of this movement needed an efficient transport system. Port Road which runs parallel to the existing rail way line has an extraordinary width of more that 60m and is relatively flat and it was proposed by Colonel William Light in 1836 that a canal should be constructed between Adelaide and the Port Dock precinct. The proposal was romantic but did not measure up against the cost effective and efficient new rail technology that was emerging.

The Port Dock area became a maze of small rail lines, mostly privately owned and connected to the Wharf area and smelters. There were horse drawn trams, trains and trolly buses, steam trains and electric trams. Confusion reigned as no one knew who had right of way and no one cared because the private transport operators had to make money to survive. Eventually the port activity declined, the small private transport operators closed down and the State Government railway and bus services were all that remained.

Rosewater Rail Loop to be redeveloped as a rail trail

Posted: 21/11/21

Gillman Rail Yards The Rosewater Rail Loop in ...


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