25 km Darwin Hike joining the Darwin Rail Trail

Darwin Rail Trail

This 25.3 km walk starts from near the Darwin Airport and ends at Girraween in the Darwin Rural Area.

I head off just after lunch with the first 6km walking through suburbia on McMillans Rd, right onto Vanderlin Drive and on to Berrimah to join the Darwin Rail Trail at the Berrimah lights.

The historic former North Australian Railway starts from the Darwin Warf and was a 509 km narrow gauge line to Birdum, just south of Larrimah. The first section was opened 1889, the last in 1929. The railway officially closed in 1981. Unfortunately I am not able to walk the 16 km of the rail trail from the Darwin Warf to Berrimah this trip and will have to save it for next time.

From the Berrimah lights The rail trail parallels the Stuart highway for 3.5 km and offers little or no shade on a typical 33 degree day. So I set any embarrassment aside and and did this stretch like Mary Poppins put the trekking umbrella up and attached it to my pack. No such thing as only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the mid day sun with a trekking umbrella!

This section of the rail trail deviates away from the Stuart Highway following the original railway corridor, and is surrounded by remnant bushland.

Darwin Rail Trail

This section of the rail trail deviates away from the Stuart Highway following the original railway corridor, and is surrounded by remnant bushland.

Interpretive Shelter Yarrawonga

There is also an interpretative shelter built at Yarrawonga just behind the new Bunnings. It also has water available also currently doubling as an Aboriginal shelter.

There are a few path connections to shops in Pinelands, Yarrawonga and Palmerston.

Darwin Rail Trail 14 Miles

Several distance markers have been installed by FNAR along the section of path opened in 2012 (Yarrawonga to Howard Springs)

After Yarrawonga the path becomes is much more pleasant with tree cover cuttings, culverts and bridges. The path parallels the Stuart Highway until the Palmerston Aboriginal town camp where the trail passes to the East of the Camp toward Howard Springs.

Darwin Rail Trail signs
Darwin Rail Trail Howard Springs Shelter

Construction of the Howard Springs to Coolalinga Shared Cycle Path in the Northern Territory was completed in December 2019. The new path begins just after the shelter at Howard Springs and has retained three of the original bridges (#20, #21, #22).

The Howard Springs shelter includes displays of local and railway history and also has water available. Neither of the shelters have seats which would have been a welcome addition.

The rail trail cycle path turns right and ends in Coolalinga. Coolalinga is a rural service centre with a small shopping centre and a few cafes on both sides of the Stuart Highway.

Darwin Rail Trail

My walk does not end here but continues following the old line which leaves Coolalinga as just a dirt track under power lines heading South until I meet Girraween Road where I turn left and head to our daughters house.

The former North Australian Railway corridor is largely retained from Coolalinga to as far south as Adelaide River, however there seems to be no interest to progress the trail beyond Coolalinga.

Find out more about the North Australian Railway history b clicking here – War Time History of the Commonwealth Railways

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