A 'rail trail' is the conversion of a disused railway corridor into a multi-use recreation path, typically for walking, cycling and sometime horse riding. There are currently over 100 rail trails in Australia, with characteristics such as long, flat paths and historical features appealing to numerous user groups.
In 2015 Upper Hunter Shire Council in conjunction with Muswellbrook Shire Council commissioned a feasibility study examining the merit of developing a rail trail on the disused railway corridor between Merriwa and Denman (spanning both Shires). This study suggested that the rail trail is feasible between Merriwa and Sandy Hollow, however the line is still used between Sandy Hollow and Denman so this section of the corridor should not be used for recreational purposes.
If constructed, a rail trail between Merriwa and Sandy Hollow (with a possible 'on-road' extension to Denman) would offer locals, day-trippers and visitors a safe, relatively flat trail through farming land, over creeks and rivers, gently undulating countryside and spectacular rocky escarpments.
In 2016, Upper Hunter Shire and Muswellbrook Shire Councils commissioned a Rail Trail Development Plan to provide a detailed plan of the trail, identify the issues to be overcome and provide cost estimates for both the construction of the trail and ongoing management and maintenance. The plan looks to support the existing Merriwa Rail Society's efforts at the Merriwa Railway Station and enhance what is offered at this location. The Trail Development Plan was endorsed by both Upper Hunter Shire and Muswellbrook Shire Councils in December 2017. The plan will be used in future funding applications to the NSW Government.
A “Friends of the Upper Hunter Country Rail Trail” group will now be established to assist in taking this project forward. If you are interested in joining this group please contact Upper Hunter Shire Council's Manager Business Enterprise & Tourism on the details below.
Upper Hunter Country Rail Trail Development Plan - December 2016 - PDF 6.1MB
Upper Hunter Country Rail Trail Feasibility Study - October 2015 - PDF 8MB
Upper Hunter Country Rail Trail Feasibility Study Maps - October 2015 - PDF 6.5MB
Manager Business Enterprise & Tourism
Ph: 6540 1135
Upper Hunter Shire Council is a local government authority and provides an extensive array of services including health and building; town planning; aged care; sporting and recreational facilities; roads; libraries; garbage collection; airport facilities; saleyards; public venues; water; children, youth and families and tourist information.