Fernleigh Track

The Fernleigh Track is 16km of fully sealed, high quality cycleway running south from Adamstown to Belmont (near Newcastle, New South Wales).

It follows the path of the now defunct Belmont branch line, which carried both passenger and coal traffic in its day.   The path opened as far as Whitebridge in 2003, and was completed to Belmont in 2011.  The track takes its name from the Fernleigh tunnel under the Pacific Highway, one of the tracks most prominent features.


There is food and water at both ends of the trail, together with to water points along the trail.  There are public toilets just off the track at Redhead.  On a hot day carrying two water bottles is a good idea, you can refill them on the trip.

Getting to the start of the track

The starting point (with water)
The train is an easy way to get to the start of the Fernleigh trail.  Although Adamstown station is almost directly at the start of the trail, Broadmeadow station is only slightly more inconvenient, and it has a faster and more frequent train service.  Trains are permitted on the Cityrail trains, and the Newcastle trains usually have 3-4 carriages with bicycle hooks at the carriage ends.  As only one bicycle can be hung at the ends of these carriages, if you are travelling with more than one, you may want to use separate carriages and meet elsewhere in the train.  If you are disembarking at Adamstown you will need to be in the rear four cars, as it is a short platform.

From Adamstown station just follow the wide footway south between the road and the rail line.  At the first roundabout you will see the start of the trail, about 100m from the station.

From Broadmeadow follow the road by the side of the railway south under the road bridge, then turn second right onto Coolah Rd, and then follow the signs at the next block on Teralba Rd to the start of the trail.  It is hard to get lost.

Adamstown to Pacific Highway Tunnel

The first section of the trail is a gradual incline.  Not enough to pose any major challenge at the start, but just enough to realise that the final section of the return journey is going to be a cruise back down to the end.  The track stays close to civilisation, but the track is on a different level to Park Avenue that runs parallel to it, so it isn't like you are riding by the side of a road.

Northern entrance to the tunnel
There is a view down to Kotara on the right hand side.  You can see the shopping centre at Kotara easily enough, but the hill to traverse down to it doesn't make it look like an attractive diversion.

The road is good, asphalt all the way, and 2.5 metres wide.

The Pacific Highway tunnel is the top bill of this railtrail.  Fully restored, lit and made safe.  It is wide, and most of it is the original brick, with only some concrete and wire reinforcement in place.

Pacific Highway Tunnel to Redhead

The track gets shadier, and heads downhill through eucalypt forest to the Redhill turn.

Some of the original rail sections remain in place, and some of the platform structures have been restored.

Redhead to Belmont

Between Redhead and Belmont there is a long boardwalk section, made from concrete planks.  These give quite a bumpy rid.  Again, the ride is removed from civilisation until you get to Belmont, with no shops or major centres adjacent to the track, and only a few road crossings.

Belmont station has been restored, with a station platform, picnic tables and a park.  Curiously, just as you are reaching the end of the cycleway, there is a sign excluding bikes from the last 100m of so of the path.  Supposedly you are either expected to go onto the road for the last section of the trail, or walk your bike.  The reasoning here is lost on me.

Getting to Belmont shopping, or to the lake or beach isn't straightforward either, unless you are familiar with the area.  There are no directional signs at the Belmont end like there are at the Adamstown end, and the no bicycle signs on the footpaths don't encourage you to push on further.

The easiest route to take to the beach and shopping is to turn right onto Ernest Street until you get to Macquarie.  Macquarie is a wide pedestrian mall into the centre of town, and continues down to the lakeside precinct.  It is a quiet, easy ride.

Elevation Profile

The first half of the trip has some gradient, a slowish climb mainly up to the tunnel, than a fairly rapid 80m descent.  The second half of the trip is just flat.