A hundred years ago, Western Australia had a thriving railway network that weaved its way from the South West to the Outback. Today, the trains are long gone but the railways remain, and lucky for us because these ‘rail trails’ make ideal paths for walking, cycling and horse riding.
One of the best things about rail trails is that they’re easy enough for all fitness levels. Trains aren’t good at climbing hills; so most rail trails are free from steep slopes and rough ground, making them accessible to almost anyone on two legs or two wheels. Even better, rail trails usually meander through beautiful scenery and come with an interesting history – some even have the remains of old stations and sidings to explore. To get you on the right track, here’s our ten favourite rail trails in WA.
Time: Multiple day
Length: 1070 km
Driving distance from Perth: Northern terminus is at Sculpture Park, Mundaring, 30km (45 minutes) north east of Perth. Multiple access points between Mundaring and Albany.
The Munda Biddi takes the top spot because it’s actually many rail trails in one. This 1070km cycle route connects railways, fire trails and bush tracks to take you all the way from Mundaring to Albany. The beauty of the Munda Biddi is that you can tackle it anyway you want. You can ride end-to-end for an epic month long adventure. Or you can pick a section for a pleasant day trip, like the Jarrahdale Balmoral Trail - an 11km stretch of rail trail that runs from the old Balmoral POW camp through the jarrah forest to the Mundlimup Timber Trails. Another lovely day trip on the Munda Biddi is the Wilson’s Inlet Heritage Trail. This pretty 12km section of rail trail runs along the edge of Wilson’s Inlet in Denmark, offering coastal views and plenty of bird watching opportunities.
2. Kep Track
Time: Multiple day
Length: 75 km
Driving distance from Perth: Starts at Weir Villiage Road (opposite Hotel), Mundaring Weir, 38km (1 hour) east of Perth.
If you're interested in the historical side of rail trails, make the Kep Track your first choice. This 75km trail runs from Mundaring to Northam, passing through several historic small towns like Bakers Hill and Clackline where you can still see the original railway stations and platforms. On the trail you’ll also find other interesting spots to explore including Eadine Springs, the Clackline refractory and several old mill sites. The Kep Track is mostly made up of flat gravel and has plenty of access points along the way, making it easy to break up in to smaller, family friendly day trips.
Time: Full day
Length: 23 km
Driving distance from Perth: Start at Memorial Drive, Cowaramup which is 265km (3 hours) south west of Perth. 12kms north of Margaret River.
Running from Cowaramup to Witchcliffe, the Wadandi Track showcases the heritage and natural beauty of the former Busselton to Flinders Bay Railway. The railway was built in the 1880s to carry timber for export. These days it functions as scenic bike path leading you through peppermint, jarrah and young karri forests. Along the way, you can still catch a glimpse of the trail’s past as many of the original timber bridge crossings and rail formations are still intact. There’s also cafes, picnic spots and delicious bakeries at each end of the trail, so you can rest and refuel after your journey.
Wadandi Track: Railtrails Australia
Time: Full day
Length: 41 km (Loop)
Driving distance from Perth: There are multiple entry points on the trail. A popular one is Sculpture Park, Mundaring, 30km (45 minutes) north east of Perth.
The Railway Reserves Heritage Trail is jam packed with scenery and interesting railway formations. The 41km loop trail follows the old Eastern Railway passing through John Forrest National Park where you’ll be treated to spectacular views of Perth city and the beautiful Hovea Falls. The trail continues on through a number of quaint hills communities including Darlington, Parkerville and Mundaring where you can stop for café or pub lunch. One of the highlights of the trail is the Swan View Tunnel, a delightfully spooky rail tunnel that leads you through the middle of a hillside – don’t forget to bring your torch!
Time: Multiple Day
Length: 37 km loop
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Driving distance from Perth: Nannup Foreshore Park is 282km (3 hours) south of Perth.
Located near Nannup, the Old Timberline and Sidings Rail Trails are perfect for those looking for a more challenging adventure. Unlike most rail trails, these two routes become hilly and narrow in places. The 22km Old Timberline Trail follows St John Brook Creek, taking you past beautiful scenery including Barrabup and Worker’s Pool; two natural swimming holes that also double as excellent picnic and camping spots. The Sidings Rail Trail is a 26km route that runs along an old timber railway from Nannup to Jarrahwood. Many of the original sleepers and rail signs are still intact, giving the trail a true historical feel. These Old Timberline and Sidings Rail Trail can be completed separately or connected to make a 37km loop - either way you’re in for an interesting and scenic trip.
Old Timberline & Sidings: Railtrails Australia
Time: Full day
Length: 54.5 km
Driving distance from Perth: Berindge Park, Denmark is 420kms (4.5 hours) south of Perth
The Denmark to Nornalup Rail Trail is made up of three distinct sections, each with it own unique scenery and history. The first 7.5km section follows the edge of Wilson’s Inlet to the Denmark town centre, rewarding you with beautiful coastal views and lush vegetation along the way. The second 33km section runs from Denmark town centre to Parker Road, crossing the river mouth to pass the original train station where you still spot remnants of the old railway, including several old wagons. The third and final 14km section runs from Bow River to Nornalup, taking you through rolling green hills, lush farmlands and coastal heath. Which ever section you choose, keep an eye out for the four original timber rail bridges.
Time: 1-2 hours
Length: 7.5 km
Driving distance from Perth: Rotary Park, Margaret River is 267km (3.5 hours) south of Perth
Staying true to its railway past, The Ten Mile Brook trail begins in Rotary Park next to ‘Old Kate’, a preserved steam engine at the northern edge of Margaret River. This 15km return trail follows an old timber tramway, taking you through beautiful forest to the Rusden picnic site at Ten Mile Brook Dam. From here, you can retrace your steps along the river back to the trailhead. The Ten Mile Brook trail is mostly compacted earth and gravel which means its best suited to walkers or bike riding.
Ten Mile Brook trail: Department of Parks and Wildlife
Time: 2 - 4 hours
Length: 12km return
Driving distance from Perth: The trail starts at Quenda Creek Reserve in Gooseberry Hill,26km (30 minutes) east of Perth.
Only 26km from Perth, the Kalamunda Railway Heritage Trail gives you a rail trail experience without travelling too far from the city. Built in 1890, this trail started life as transport route for the hills timber industry. Today, it's a pleasant trail that leads through the leafy Kalamunda township where you can still see the original train station, tracks and locomotive at Kalamunda History Village. Another popular feature of this trail is the Zigzag, a narrow zigzagging stretch of railway that allowed trains to climb the steep hills of the Darling Escarpment. The Zigzag is now a scenic drive or walk with fantastic city views and masses of wildflowers during spring.
9. Hopetoun – Ravensthorpe Railway Heritage Walk
Time: Multiple days
Length: 39 km
Driving distance from Perth: Hopetoun is 564km (6 hours) south east of Perth. 191km (2 hours) west of Esperence.
The Hopetoun – Ravensthorpe Railway Heritage Walk is a journey through WA’s gold mining past. This 39km walk trail begins in Ravensthorpe, following the railway through bushland and the historic gold mining towns of Desmond and Kundip. Thanks to the preservation efforts of local residents, you can explore a number of historic buildings and railway artifacts along the way. The trail finishes at the jetty in Hopetoun; a town famous for its postcard perfect beaches and stunning spring wildflower displays. You can easily split this trail into smaller sections, walking from town to town, or along the Hopetoun coast.
Hopetoun Jetty: Tourism WA
10. One Mile Jetty
Time: 1-2 hours
Length: 3 km
Driving distance from Perth: Carnarvon is 900km (11 hours) north of Perth.
One Mile Jetty is not only a rail trail, it’s the longest jetty in WA’s north. This easy 3km trail follows a tramway from Carnarvon town centre, over mangrove swamps, around Babbage and Whitlock Islands to lead you to the historic One Mile Jetty. From here, you can either walk out or catch the small ‘coffee pot’ train to the end of the jetty and back. Along the trail there marine and bird life to spot, as well as plenty of jetty activity as the bridge is renowned as a great fishing spot to catch mulloway and tailor – if you’ve got the time, bring a fishing rod and stay to enjoy the sunset.
One Mile Jetty
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