Tasmania was once stitched with railways and tramways, used for hauling ore and logs.
Most of these railways, from the days when mining and timber were dominant industries, have been abandoned, consumed by forest in some cases, but some surviving lines have been transformed into rail trails for walkers and cyclists.
Following the course of these former railways, rail trails all but guarantee to be flat (ok, flat-ish).
Want a gentle bike ride or walk packed with history and beauty? Set out on these rail trails.
North East Rail Trail
The state’s longest rail trail stretches for 26km between Scottsdale and Billycock Hill in north-east Tasmania, crossing farmland and delving deep into forest as it cuts through a chasm-like cutting sliced into the hills. Despite the dramatic landscape, it’s a ride of gentle climbs and descents.
The ride sets out from the old railway station in Scottsdale.
Tasmania’s highest waterfall deserves a grand entrance. This rainforest rail trail follows the course of the North East Dundas Tramway (once used to transport ore to smelters in Zeehan more than a century ago) to the very base of the 104m-high falls. Look for the old wooden tramway bridge beside the trail as it crosses Bather Creek. It’s an 11.5km return ride or walk.
The trailhead is at Williamsford, outside Rosebery.
Railton to Sheffield
Now part of the Wild Mersey mountain-bike trail network, this 13km path linking Railton to Sheffield follows the former Railton-to-Roland railway line. Skirting hills and forest, it also passes through the unusual Sykes Sanctuary. This parcel of land was conserved by Norman Sykes, who happened to be a keen cyclist (he generated power for his reading lamp at home by pedalling his bike). Be sure to check out the streetscape of murals in Sheffield.
Like it says on the packet, the trail links the towns of Railton and Sheffield.
This bike path beside the train line through Hobart’s northern suburbs is a popular commuter and recreation corridor, and it’s also a fun way to get to Mona. Starting on the city’s waterfront, the trail passes the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens and sheltered Cornelian Bay before cutting through the suburbs to Berriedale. From here it’s a short detour through the Moorilla Estate vines to the doors of Mona.
Start at Constitution Dock in Hobart.
Just south of Hobart, near the town of Margate, the traces of a coal-mining tramway are now the foundations of this 6km rail trail. The tramway was built in 1906 (and dismantled after its bridges were destroyed in a bushfire 16 years later). It offers a gentle gradient through a mixture of forest.
The western end of the tramway is on Kaoota Rd, off Pelverata Rd.