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Trail Partially open

Southern Flinders Rail Trail

South Australia

3.4 based on 8 reviews
Location: Flinders Ranges, 207 km north of Adelaide, SA.
Length: 51 km
Surface: Coarse gravel, Fine gravel
Start / End: Laura/Melrose to Stone Hut/Wilmington
Public Transport: Coach
Suitable for:
  • Cycling – Mountain BikesCycling – Mountain Bikes
  • Horse RidingHorse Riding
  • WalkingWalking

  • Rail Trail
  • On Road
  • Potential Rail Trail
  • Other Trail
  • Former Railway
  • Rail Trail
  • On Road
  • Potential RT
  • Other Trail
  • Former Railway
Trail Partially open
View Map
  • A trail that blends into the landscape and 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
  • Work will begin soon on linking sections of the trail together to create an 88 km rail trail
  • Creek crossings are great fun!

Nearby Attractions

  • 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 campgrounds

Last updated: 6 December 2022

Overall description

The Southern Flinders Rail Trail consists of four sections that vary in terms of trail surface, scenery and topography:

  • Laura to Gladstone (2.5 km) – open farmland
  • Laura to Stone Hut (7 km) – a good rural cycle path
  • Wirrabara to Stone Hut (3 km) –through hills and pine trees
  • Booleroo Centre to Melrose (17km) – open farmland
  • Melrose to Wilmington (22 km) –follows the base of Mt Remarkable, then crosses open plains and small creeks
  • Future expansion of the trail will link all four sections

Section Guides

Laura to Gladstone (2.5 km)

This section runs parallel to the Main North Rd.

  • Starts on the southern outskirts of Laura at the ‘Welcome to Laura’ sign and runs south for nearly 3 km toward Gladstone
  • Coarse gravel, suitable only for walkers and mountain bikes

Laura and Stone Hut (7 km)

Completed in 2011, this section also runs alongside the Main North Rd.

  • A high-class rail trail with a smooth, hard-packed gravel surface suitable for road bikes
  • Begins at the northern ‘Welcome to Laura’ sign
  • A couple of gates adjacent to the Laura Golf Club
  • Finishes about 65 0m before Stone Hut: use the road to get to the bakery at Stone Hut

Wirrabara toward Stone Hut (3 km)

This short section of trail was completed in 2011, and is a fair quality gravel surface with a rough creek crossing suitable for hybrid or mountain bikes.

  • Follows the rail alignment south from the silos in Wirrabara
  • Winds through scenic hilly country and shady pine trees

Booleroo Centre to Melrose (17km)

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.

  • 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.
  • Ride west along Arthur St and take the first right turn into Colin St. Continue to the bend in Colin Street where the entrance to the trail appears.
  • The trail can now be followed to the silos on the outskirts of Melrose. Mt Remarkable is always visible as your destination 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 (22 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. 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

Over the Edge Sports https://rentbikesmelrose.otesports.com/rentals or call +61 (0) 88 666 2222

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8 reviews of “Southern Flinders Rail Trail”

A really great ride this October with crops at record heights from Wilmington to Melrose to Bolero Centre and then on to Laura.
I will certainly ride these trails again next year

We rode from Laura to Wirrabara and return yesterday, June 2022.
The first section to Stone Hut has been available for more than 12 years and has a very good hard packed surface, and is approx 8km in length. The local council is now in the process of building the next 6km towards Wirrabara. We rode on the road next to the old railway corridor, and we're able to observe the progress. We then joined back onto the finished trail into Wirrabara another 3kms. I think this is the best part of the trail as it goes through some nice cuttings and a tunnel of pine trees near Wirrabara. The painted silos at Wirrabara are fantastic and well worth a look.
I have been informed that the last section will be completed by end of June 2022,but wet weather is delaying work at the moment.
The road has very little traffic, is smooth and has a wide shoulder.
It was disappointing to see that the avenue of planted trees near Laura has been trimmed down to about 3 metres high, because they are in the vicinity of a power line. A bit over the top by the tree trimming contractors.
Our return trip was about 38kms, a nice easy ride. A good bakery at Wirrabara, and also at Stone Hut. No bakery at Laura, but a really good new coffee shop. We stayed in a beautiful cabin at Laura Caravan Park. Highly recommended.

Rode Melrose to Booleroo. Very exposed trail through expanses of cropping properties with little tree coverage. Tree plantings are taking place at various sites, which is pleasing.Good surface,but a hot ride in summer and hard work on a windy day like we had. Booleroo has an IGA, but Melrose does not have a supermarket. However, Booleroo has no hotel and Melrose has two and two coffee shops plus a bike shop. Rode Melrose to Wilmington trail where the surface has improved immensely since 2011. Very scenic 22k's one way ride with Mt. Remarkable on one side and Flinders Ranges in the distance on the other side. Earlier tree plantings make for cover on the trail. Many new little bridges means only 3 off trail creek crossings. No coffee shop in Wilmington, nor supermarket. Pub still open.

We visited this trail in June 2022. It was cold and a little bit wet, but the trail is in good condition.
We did the Melrose to Booleroo section and return on day 1. The surface is a hard packed crushed blue metal, which follows the old rail corridor for most of the 20kms. There are three missing low level bridges, but the detours are quite satisfactory, and not at all steep.
On our second day we rode to Wilmington and return for a total of 45kms.
This section of trail has a lot of tree cover for the first 10km, and a very smooth surface. The next 10km offers wonderful views of the distant Flinders Ranges on one side, and Mt Remarkable on the other side.
Most of the small bridges have been replaced with a sturdy steel decking and rails. Three larger bridges are missing and a side detour is provided. Not steep or wet. However the one closest to Wilmington is very rocky, and we had to walk through it.
We stayed at the Melrose Holiday Units in Whitby Street. They have 6, 2 bedroom units at only $95 per night for a couple. The units are spacious, with full kitchen and modern bathroom. Comfortable bed and quiet split system Air Conditioning. We stayed for 3 nights, and would highly recommend it to anyone wishing to stay in Melrose.
A great little coffee shop and bike shop called Over The Edge is in the middle of Melrose. Very good coffe and cake, and the bike shop does bike hire at a reasonsble rate.
We moved to the Laura Caravan Park for the third section of this trail. Laura to Stone Hut is the oldest section of this trail, and is a real pleasure to ride.

Rode the section from Gladstone to Laura, good dirt road for 7.5km in the dry from Gladstone to the end of the 2.5km of actual gravel rail trail. Give it a miss if wet though. Passes through mostly open farmland and off the bitumen, when dry the dirt bit would be ok on a gravel or mountain bike.

Cycled the Melrose Showgrounds to Wilmington return. Sunny warm early Autumn day. Trail departs North end of Showgrounds through iron gate. Kilometre markers along the flat trail in both direction. Surface to first road crossing excellent fine gravel, then done courser gravel and fine gravel closet to Wilmington. Mid week March Pub open, Pizza/ takeaway open, and there is a 24 hour vending machine place North end near petrol station. An enjoyable section with views of Mount Remarkable NP and the plains.

Rode Melrose to Wilmington on 3 December 2020. A very scenic rail trail, definitely MTB-suited as it becomes quite gravelly once out of Melrose. Nice creek crossings, saw kangaroos and found a council worker clearing a fallen tree. I am looking forward to the new section opening.
We were on the trail on a very warm day – there is not a lot of tree coverage in some sections, and you need to take plenty of water.

Just rode Melrose to Wilmington track and found it to be not too bad. Local bike shop owner advised it was pretty rough and it was, with rocks all along the graded track. MTB’s for sure. Great fun though and made a nice change from the single track action around Mt Remarkable, with great views of the mountain. It’s great to see the rail corridor getting used, especially for biking!

Background Information

Traditional owners

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 joined 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 

In September 2021, Mount Remarkable Council commenced construction of the next section of the rail trail, from Booleroo Centre to Stone Hut.

Construction Commences on Southern Flinders Rail Trail extension

Posted: 17/02/22

Clearing of the trail has commenced at Booleroo Centre and design work for bridges, culverts ...

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Southern Flinders Rail Trail extension to Booleroo Centre officially opened

Posted: 22/09/21

Turning the first sod to start construction of the ...

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17 km extension to the Southern Flinders Rail Trail in South Australia commences

Posted: 31/05/21

The existing 22km Southern Flinders Rail Trail rail trail from Wilmington to Melrose is being ...

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Southern Flinders Ranges Rail Trail to triple in length

Posted: 16/04/21

The Southern Flinders Ranges Rail Trail in South Australia is to be extended 42km from ...

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Grant funding for Southern Flinders Ranges Rail Trail (SA)

Posted: 17/05/20

The District Council of Mount Remarkable will match the South Australian Governments Opens Space and ...

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