- Rail Trail
- A trail that blends into the landscape and occasionally challenges the rider with rough sections and stony creek crossings
- Complements MTB trails at the base of Mount Remarkable and surrounding forest areas
- Mt Remarkable, Alligator Gorge, Wirrabara Forest and the Southern Flinders Ranges provide an imposing backdrop
- Creek crossings are great fun!
- Climb Mount Remarkable and walk through narrow Alligator Gorge
- Ride world-class MTB trails of Mt Remarkable and surrounding forests
- Ride the Pichi Richi Railway and visit the Flinders Ranges
- Enjoy the natural setting of Melrose, Booleroo Centre, Wirrabara and Laura caravan parks and campgrounds
Last updated: 29 October 2023
The Southern Flinders Rail Trail consists of six sections that vary in terms of trail surface, scenery and topography:
- Idlib Road to Laura (3 km) – open farmland
- Laura to Stone Hut (10 km) – a good rural cycle path
- Stone Hut to Wirrabara (9 km) – follows the path of the Rocky River
- Wirrabara to Booleroo Centre (21 km) – through hills and along farmland
- Booleroo Centre to Melrose (17 km) – open farmland
- Melrose to Wilmington (20 km) –follows the base of Mt Remarkable, then crosses open plains and small creeks
Please note that while the trail is referred to as the Southern Flinders Rail Trail, the section between Stone Hut and Wilmington is referred to as the Remarkable Rail Trail as it is within the Mount Remarkable District Council area.
Idlib Road to Laura (3 km)
This section runs parallel to the Horrocks Highway. The trail has not been constructed through Laura so directions have been provided to take you through the main shopping area and then onto the recommencement of the trail.
- Coarse gravel, suitable only for walkers and mountain bikes
- The trail starts at the junction of Idlib Road and Horrocks Highway, approximately 3km south of Laura.
- The trail terminates just south of Laura so, at the end of the trail, turn left, then right onto a rubble road, West Terrace. After a short distance, West Terrace becomes a sealed road. Take the third turn on the right, into Whyte Street and then turn left into the town’s main street, Herbert Street.
- Continue along Herbert Street until the dual lane ends and take the path through the North Laura Parklands (toilets, playground and BBQ) on the left. At the end of the path, continue on Mill Street and take the third turn on the left, Alexander Street, then the first turn on the right, West Terrace.
- Continue along West Terrace. The road will become a gravel road (stock Route Road) and once across Pine Creek, turn right and follow the creek until the road turns left. The Rail Trail recommences 50m along the track.
Laura and Stone Hut (10 km)
This section runs alongside Horrocks Highway and the Rocky River. The trail is a well compacted fine gravel surface which is suited to all types of bikes and cyclists of all abilities.
- Begins at the northern ‘Welcome to Laura’ sign
- The first few kilometres of this section also form part of the Mawson Trail
- The trail ends about 650m before Stone Hut so use the Horrocks Highway verge to ride to the Stone Hut Bakery.
- 70m past the Bakery, take the road on the left (Dee Road). The trail commences again, on the right, 40m from the intersection.
Stone Hut to Wirrabara (the Remarkable Rail Trail – 9 km)
An interesting section of the trail with several points of interest along the way. A good riding surface but best suited to mountain or hybrid bikes.
- 850m along the trail you will be required to cross Horrocks Highway. The crossing is not difficult but you need to keep your eyes open for fast moving vehicles.
- 150m along the trail where the Horrocks Highway vehicle bridge crosses the Rocky River, the trail bridge crosses the river nearby. You are able to see the old concrete embankments of the original rail bridge a few metres away. Take care on the steep approaches to the bridge and be aware that there is only room on the bridge for one way traffic.
- A further 3.5km along the trail and you will be required to cross Horrocks Highway again. Signage is not good but you will see the trail on the opposite side of the road.
- 300m further on, the trail leaves the edge of Horrocks Highway. Turn left onto Hollitts Road then right onto the trail.
- A kilometre further on the trail crosses Rocky River again but this time there is no bridge. The trail drops from the old rail line to the base of the old railway bridge embankments and you can then traverse the old concrete and stone base that is now the river bed. Its not a difficult crossing but the 2-metre flood level indicator should be a warning that it can be impassable.
- Continue on and as you near Wirrabara you will notice the pine trees lining the trail. They are remnants of the pine forest planted in the area in 1877. The pine tree lined section of trail is about 300m long.
Please note that at the time of writing this trail description the trail signage had not been installed within Wirrabara. The following trail details have been provided so that you can navigate to the commencement of the trail to Booleroo Centre.
- When the trail meets Forest Road (a sealed road) turn left and a short distance down the road, the trail can be found on the right. You can take a short detour by following Forest Road to the right when you leave the trail. Follow Forest Road as it bends to the left and you will be able to view the silo art on the left. Return the way you came and turn right off of Forest Road as mentioned above.
- About 250m along the trail, use the bridge to cross Rocky River. Continue to the right and follow the trail for a further 350m and you will find Wongabirrie Park (toilets, shelter, BBQ and caravan park).
- Use the small foot bridge to cross toward Horrocks Highway where you can find the local bakery.
- Opposite Wongabirrie Park and on the right-hand side of Horrocks Highway, just past Kurrajong Street, is the well-hidden recommencement of the trail. There is a trail marker post on the edge of the road and the trail can be seen clearly from here.
Wirrabara to Booleroo Centre (the Remarkable Rail Trail – 21 km)
The first 25km of the trail have been a gentle climb (almost flat) with good shelter from the elements. The next 7km is a continuous but gentle climb which is not difficult unless you have a head wind. The trail surface is fine compacted gravel which is suited to mountain and hybrid bikes.
- The trail follows the Wirrabara-Appila Road until it veers to the north and heads toward the old rail siding of Yandiah.
- There are very few remnants of the railway however you may notice an old freight carriage on stilts which is used for farm storage. There is also a strange fence made up of a number of solid old steel railway gates
- After 6.5km the trail crosses Mahood Road, this is the highest point of the trail. The trail then slowly descends on its way to Yandiah. The feature of this section of trail is the stunning view out across the Appila Plains.
- The small and isolated town of Yandiah was established in 1874. All that remains today is an old railway siding (a few old sleepers). The construction of the railway in 1910 must have been a godsend for this small community. There is a plaque and Station Board on the edge of the road near the trail.
- It’s a pleasant drop along the edge of Pine Creek Road and then along Appila Road, leading into Booleroo Centre.
- The are a few curved narrow stock grids in this section. They seem to work well and are easy to cycle over as long as you reduce speed.
Booleroo Centre to Melrose (the Remarkable Rail Trail – 17 km)
This section was completed in September 2021 and is a good quality compacted fine gravel trail that follows the old railway alignment. The trail crosses four creeks as it moves through open farmland toward Mount Remarkable. The trial surface is compacted fine gravel however, due to the several creek crossing, the trail is best suited to mountain bikes.
- Vehicles can be left in Booleroo Centre near the historic railway infrastructure display on the Corner of Campbell St and Arthur St. Public toilets and shops are located in Stephens St, further east along Arthur Street.
- The trail from Wirrabara ends adjacent to the Town Swimming Pool at Arthur Street. Slightly to the right is Campbell Street which takes you past the rail infrastructure display and then on past the silos and grain handling sheds. At the bend in Campbell Street the path appears on the left and then turns right and continues on to Colin Street where the trail leaves the town. Mt Remarkable can be seen in the distance.
- There are several interesting curved stock grates that you will need to ride over along the route – take care as they are narrow.
- 5km out from Booleroo Centre the trail crosses Perroomba Rd and on the left, a few timber sleepers mark the remains of Perroomba Station, which was the only station between Booleroo Centre and Melrose.
- As well as crossing a few minor roads, there are four creek crossings
- Bastion East creek – take care as the embankment has steep sides
- Bastion West creek – the trail crosses through the creek bed
- Collins Creek – the trail crosses through the creek bed past the concrete pylons of the original rail bridge
- Rotten Creek – this is the largest of the creeks and can have a steady flow after heavy rains. The trail crosses through the creek bed.
- Once past the Melrose silos the trail follows Girdham Rd to Horrocks Hwy where the trail crosses into the Melrose Showgrounds and then continues on the right to Wilmington. Turning left within the showgrounds will take you into the township of Melrose (2km). Paradise Square on the left in the centre of Melrose is a convenient location to rest.
Melrose to Wilmington (the Remarkable Rail Trail – 20 km)
This section was completed in 2011 and is generally a good quality trail that follows the old railway alignment where possible. The trail surface is compacted fine gravel with some sections of coarse gravel and creek crossings, so it is best suited to mountain bikes. It features stunning views of Mt Remarkable to the west, and views of the Flinders Range to the east. The trail commences from Melrose however cyclists riding from Booleroo Centre can join the trail from the Showground entrance.
Note that the trail is best travelled between autumn and spring, and can be very hot in summer. Regardless of the time of year, take adequate water and food supplies and be aware that travel times can be slow due to creek crossings and wind. Wilmington cannot be relied on for food and water, but toilets are available.
- Begin from the corner of Joes Rd and Horrocks Highway, opposite the ‘Over the Edge’ cycle hire shop. Follow Horrocks Hwy 700 m north to Dorrington Rd; use the footpath if the road is busy
- At Dorrington Rd the trail enters private property through a gate on the corner. It is a privilege to use this private land; please leave as you found it. This section includes a ford across Willochra Creek and meanders through large eucalypts on its way to another gate at the entrance to Melrose Showground
- Follow the path around the Showground buildings and the old railway alignment to the gate at the northern end. The Showground is also a camping area; respect the privacy of those using the grounds
- The trail continues on the old rail alignment through open fields with Mt Remarkable behind you and the Southern Flinders Ranges to the left. The Flinders Ranges are in the distance to your right. The entrance to Willowie Forest Mountain Bike network is on the left
- Along this section you cross Goyder’s Line, a surveyed line that separates good cropping land from marginal cropping land (low rainfall). Surveyor George Goyder prepared the line (which can only be found on plans.) in 1865 by observing native plants while travelling 3200 km on horseback across SA. It has stood the test of time: you will notice the vegetation change as you ride north along the trail, particularly in open areas
- About 7 km from the Showground the trail crosses Horrocks Hwy and continues through open country with sweeping views of the plains to the northeast
- After crossing Spring Creek, you will see an old chimney on the right, all that remains of the township and railway siding of Terka. The town was surveyed in 1924, but people showed no interest and the town failed to develop. The siding has also completely disappeared – a reminder of how difficult life in the Southern Flinders Ranges was in the early years of last century.
- A short distance from Wilmington is the last creek crossing. Stony Creek lives up to its name; dismount and walk across the stony creek bed. It’s an enjoyable walk that gives you time to take in the scenery
- At the end of the trail turn left into Gogler Rd, which veers to the right. Continue past the silos to Tuckwell St, a wide and substantial sealed road. Proceed up a slight rise past the primary school to the main road and the Wilmington Hotel. The hotel or shop/café may be open; if not, head down the street to the corner of Dignan St, where there is a small shopfront with self-serve machines for snacks and drinks. Public toilets are on the opposite side of the road, next to the fire station. Street signs are difficult to find; use features such as the silos, school, hotel and fire station
- Mobile phone coverage is limited
Start at Laura to Stone Hut (2011)
Laura to Stone Hut 
Rocky River bridge crossing near Stone Hut 
Cruising between Stone Hut and Wirrabarra 
The trail crosses the Rocky River south of Wirrabara using the stone base of the old railway bridge 
Trail marker near Wirrabara 
Pine tree tunnel approaching Wirrabara 2023]
Silo art at Wirrabara 
Creek crossing on the climb from Wirrabara up to Yandiah 
View of the Appila Plains from the top of the range near Yandiah siding 
Railway Infrastructure display - Booleroo Centre (2021)
Collins Creek Crossing next the remains of the rail bridge (2021)
Canola crop near Booleroo Centre (2021)
Bastian Creek vegetation near Booleroo Centre (2021)
Decorative stock grate at Bastian Road (2021)
The approach to Rotten Creek with Mt Remarkable in the background (2021)
West of the former Perroomba Station site (2021)
Melrose is starting to embrace cycling tourism 
Large gum trees near Melrose Showgrounds 
Willochra Creek crossing 
The Willowie Forest north or Melrose 
Willowie Forest area bridge 
remains of a chimney at the Terka Station location 2020
Terka, heading toward Mt Remarkable 
Crossing Stony Creek near Wilmington 
Laura to Gladstone (2011)
Sign on Laura to Gladstone section (2011)
We acknowledge the Nukunu people, the traditional custodians of the land and waterways on which the trail is built.
Rail line history
A narrow gauge railway once connected the towns of Gladstone, Laura, Stone Hut, Wirrabara, Yandiah, Booleroo Centre, Perroomba, Melrose, Terka and Wilmington. It started in Gladstone in June 1884 to serve the rapidly developing wheat growing region and was opened to Wilmington by 1915. The last train left Wilmington’s wheat silo in July 1988.
Gladstone was once a busy and important station with a mixture of narrow and broad gauge lines. It had main lines from Adelaide, Peterborough and Port Pirie, and branch lines to Wilmington and a munitions depot. It had grain silos, sheep and cattle yards, goods sheds, loco sheds, a turntable, and an impressive railway station. Little remains today.
Development and future of the rail trail
It is hoped that the trail can be extended 7km south to Gladstone. This would mean that the Gladstone to Wilmington branch line, which was constructed between 1883 and 1915, would be converted to a rail trail for its entire 87-kilometre length.
The District Council of Mt Remarkable has completed the final stage of the Southern Flinders ...More...
Clearing of the trail has commenced at Booleroo Centre and design work for bridges, culverts ...More...
Turning the first sod to start construction of the ...More...
The existing 22km Southern Flinders Rail Trail rail trail from Wilmington to Melrose is being ...More...
The Southern Flinders Ranges Rail Trail in South Australia is to be extended 42km from ...More...
The District Council of Mount Remarkable will match the South Australian Governments Opens Space and ...More...